Carmen's Reviews > Breakfast at Tiffany's

Breakfast at Tiffany's by Truman Capote
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really liked it
bookshelves: american-author, fiction, he-says, published1958, read-around-the-world-2018, traditionally-published, classics
Recommended to Carmen by: Pantsless
Recommended for: People Who Are Curious
Read 2 times. Last read April 5, 2018 to April 6, 2018.

Those final weeks, spanning end of summer and the beginning of another autumn, are blurred in memory, perhaps because our understanding of each other had reached that sweet depth where two people communicate more often in silence than in words: an affectionate quietness replaces the tensions, the unrelaxed chatter and chasing about that produce a friendship's more showy, more, in the surface sense, dramatic moments.

So. This is going to be a hard one to review.

For one thing, the MC is not in love with Holly nor pining after her nor wanting her as his wife/girlfriend. In fact, he is (IMO) a stand-in for Capote, who certainly had no interest in fucking women. Holly seems to see MC as a safe-space, someone she can trust because he is gay, and he reminds her of her brother (safe, brother) who is off at war. MC is unnamed in the book, but Holly insists on calling him "Fred," her brother's name - another way of establishing he is no threat and that they are of no sexual interest to each other. It's not only canceling out his own autonomy but it is a way for Capote to insert himself into the novel. Nameless MCs were/are very in vogue and considered an exciting literary technique in some circles.

Very few authors, especially the unpublished, can resist an invitation to read aloud.

An author who lives upstairs and has no interest in fucking Holly. Capote stand-in.

Holiday Golightly is a woman who hangs around older, rich men and takes money from them to 'go to the powder room' and 'take a cab home.' She's 'trained herself' to 'only be excited by men over 42.'

So, she's a prostitute.

CARMEN: *sighs* *sips coffee*

I mean,... sure. I feel like slapping a label on this is just another way of tearing people down and shaming them, but sure. She has sex with older, rich men for money, she cashes in on her looks and sexuality, and these are men she is not physically attracted to. I personally wouldn't call her a prostitute, because I'm not about that female-hate life, and also because she's not in a situation where she has a pimp or takes on all comers or does stuff she doesn't want to do. Instead, she realizes that her looks and personality are her currency and uses them to her best advantage to get men to give her money. She's tricking.

I don't have a problem with this, just as I said in my review of Bunny Tales, I don't have a problem with women who are tricking nor do I have a problem with women who ruthlessly use their looks and sexuality to get what they want. Life is hard. *shrug* I am not pro-prostitution, I think being a prostitute is soul-crushing and soul-destroying, moreso when you have a pimp or madam to please, but even if you work for yourself. I'm a romantic. However, I'm a realist enough to know that life happens and it's absolutely against my nature to hate women or shame them for using their beauty or body to get ahead. I'm also not stupid enough to think that prostitution (in any of its forms) is going to magically disappear from society.

The good thing about Holly is that she has no pimp, she answers to no one, and she doesn't have to fuck anyone she doesn't want to fuck and she doesn't have to engage in any sexual acts she doesn't want to engage in. Occasionally she runs into trouble, like the time she takes a man home and he bites her while in bed with her, she flees to (safe) "Fred's" place and sleeps in his bed. Again, because he has no sexual interest in her and is one of the few men in the novel who don't feel like they can own her, claim her, and control her.

Holly has a deep, deep fear of and problem with being 'caged' - a running theme in the novel. She avoids the zoo. She (view spoiler) She'll never attach to one man or one place. She can't even commit to owning a cat, actually, the idea of pet ownership disgusts her. If an animal and a human choose to journey through life together, that's one thing, but she doesn't believe in owning animals.

This is so shocking and revolutionary in a 1958 book, it's amazing how Capote has captured Holly and all her feelings in this way. While you are reading it it becomes clear exactly who Holly is and why, and her worldview is so exquisitely crafted by Capote that it's frankly genius.

Holly's problem is that because she's so beautiful and charming, men want to possess her. Not just for one night, they want to marry her or claim her in some permanent way which would allow them to tell her what she can and cannot do and that is the anti-Holly. She'll go to great lengths to avoid this fate.

Capote really illustrates this with teasing glimpses of her past, and we get an idea of where Holly came from and where she's going and why. It's brilliant and subtle on Capote's part.

Another main highlight of the book and a reason to read it is the deep, philosophical conversations all the characters have with each other constantly and at the drop of a hat. Capote really unrealistically has people go on long, philosophical soliloquies which drop truth and explain feelings very well. He is unrealistic, as well, with his almost hilarious tendency to have everyone and their brother go up to the MC and start telling him their life stories. Unintentionally hilarious as everyone MC meets starts telling him long monologues about their lives. :D Cracked me up.

RACISM
I have to say something about the racism in this book. It's fucking disgusting and it was very disturbing to me. N-word this, n-word that. Latinos. Japanese. Slurs, slurs, slurs. And don't give me any of this "It was 1958!" shit. I don't give a fuck. It was really gross, mean-spirited, and not able to be ignored by this reader. Really damaged my enjoyment of the book and it was SO unnecessary. Fuck this shit. Ugh. Take this into account before you read this. Fair warning.

WRITING
Capote actually writes the shit out of this book. I had never read anything by Capote before, and I was surprised to find out he can actually write. Capote, the man, is such a figure, people talk about him all the time. He's kind of like Hemingway in that regard. People almost talk about Hemingway as a man more than they talk about his actual books. He's become a larger-than-life figure. But, both Hemingway and Capote can actually write, so there's a plus. I hate when an author is very hyped and then I read his/her work and am like, "Meh." Or "That was terrible." No, Capote is a classic for a reason, apparently. He's skilled as an author in more ways than one, and the book kept surprising me with its cleverness. Very well-written.

THIS BOOK REMINDED ME OF:
The Diary of a Teenage Girl: An Account in Words and Pictures

Bunny Tales

The Catcher in the Rye. Actually, Capote reminded me of Salinger quite a bit.


TL;DR - I would say the biggest drawback of this book is the disgusting racism. Asking me to brush it aside is asking too much from me.

On the plus side: amazing writing. Classic. Capote doesn't shy away from deep meaning or exploring the depths of human psyche or life. I'm glad I read it.

READ WITH: Pantless Group. ;)

The sky was red Friday night, it thundered, and Saturday, departing day, the city swayed in a squall-like downpour. Sharks might have swum through the air, though it seemed improbable a plane could penetrate it.
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Quotes Carmen Liked

Truman Capote
“It’s better to look at the sky than live there. Such an empty place; so vague. Just a country where the thunder goes.”
Truman Capote, Breakfast at Tiffany's


Reading Progress

Finished Reading
April 5, 2018 – Started Reading
April 5, 2018 – Shelved
April 5, 2018 –
page 4
2.82% "The men, both red-eyed with fever, were forced for several weeks to stay shut and shivering in an isolated hut, while the young woman, having presently taken a fancy to the woodcarver, shared the woodcarver's mat.

"I don't credit that part," Joe Bell said squeamishly. "I know she had her ways, but I don't think she'd be up to anything as much as that."
"
April 5, 2018 –
page 5
3.52% ""I see pieces of her all the time, a flat little bottom, any skinny girl that walks fast and straight - " He paused, as though too aware of how intently I was looking at him. "You think I'm round the bend?"

"It's just that I didn't know you'd been in love with her. Not like that."
"
April 5, 2018 –
page 6
4.23% "...the ragbag colors of her boy's hair, tawny streaks, strands of albino-blond and yellow, caught the hall light. It was a warm evening, nearly summer, and she wore a slim cool black dress, black sandals, a pearl choker. For all her chic thinness, she had an almost breakfast-cereal air of health, a soap and lemon cleanness, a rough pink darkening in the cheeks. Her mouth was large, her nose upturned. A pair of"
April 5, 2018 –
page 7
4.93% ""If there's one thing I loathe, it's men who bite." She loosened a gray flannel robe off her shoulder to show me evidence of what happens if a man bites."
April 5, 2018 –
page 8
5.63% ""I can't get excited by a man until he's forty-two.""
April 5, 2018 –
page 9
6.34% "Very few authors, especially the unpublished, can resist an invitation to read aloud."
April 5, 2018 –
page 10
7.04% ""I'm not sure that would be quite cricket.""
April 5, 2018 –
page 12
8.45% "A disquieting loneliness came into my life, but it induced no hunger for friends of longer acquaintance: they seemed now like a salt-free, sugarless diet."
April 5, 2018 –
page 15
10.56% ""There are so few things men can talk about. If a man doesn't like baseball, then he must like horses, and if he doesn't like either of them, well, I'm in trouble anyway: he don't like girls.""
April 5, 2018 –
page 16
11.27% ""I want to still be me when I wake up one fine morning and have breakfast at Tiffany's.""
April 5, 2018 –
page 20
14.08% ""Well. Does he bite?"

Meg dropped a stitch. "Bite?"

"You. In bed."

"Why, no. SHOULD he?" Then she added, censoriously: "But he does laugh."

"Good. That's the right spirit. I like a man who sees the humor; most of them, they're all pant and puff."


I agree."
April 5, 2018 –
page 22
15.49% "We ate lunch at the cafeteria in the park. Afterwards, avoiding the zoo (Holly said she couldn't bear to see anything in a cage), ... "
April 5, 2018 –
page 23
16.2% "Outside, we ran a few blocks, I think to make it more dramatic; but also because, as I'd discovered, successful theft exhilarates. I wondered if she'd often stolen. "I used to," she said. "I mean I had to. If I wanted anything. But I still do it every now and then, sort of to keep my hand in.""
April 5, 2018 –
page 25
17.61% ""Look in the bedroom. There's a present for you."

I had one for her, too: a small package in my pocket that felt even smaller when I saw, square on the bed and wrapped with a red ribbon, the beautiful bird cage.

"But, Holly! It's dreadful!"

"I couldn't agree more; but I thought you wanted it."

"The money! Three hundred and fifty dollars!"

She shrugged. "A few extra trips to the powder room. Promise me, though
"
April 5, 2018 –
page 30
21.13% "n-word this, n-word that, spanking, writing style, genius"
April 5, 2018 –
page 32
22.54% "Everyone just instantly tells the MC their life stories. For no reason."
April 5, 2018 –
page 67
47.18% "Those final weeks, spanning end of summer and the beginning of another autumn, are blurred in memory, perhaps because our understanding of each other had reached that sweet depth where two people communicate more often in silence than in words: an affectionate quietness replaces the tensions, the unrelaxed chatter and chasing about that produce a friendship's more showy, more, in the surface sense, dramatic moment"
April 5, 2018 –
page 77
54.23% "4711"
April 5, 2018 –
page 80
56.34% "The sky was red Friday night, it thundered, and Saturday, departing day, the city swayed in a squall-like downpour. Sharks might have swum through the air, though it seemed improbable a plane could penetrate it."
April 5, 2018 –
page 142
100.0% "THE END."
April 6, 2018 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-32 of 32 (32 new)

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message 1: by Donna (new) - added it

Donna Fantastic review, Carmen! I’m glad you enjoyed much of this book. I’m with you there when it comes to racism or anti-Semitism in books, no matter what year it was published. So thanks for the warning. I haven’t read any of Capote yet, but I see I’ll need to get on that soon. I hope you’ll have a great discussion about it in your group. :)


Carmen Fantastic review, Carmen! I’m glad you enjoyed much of this book. I’m with you there when it comes to racism or anti-Semitism in books, no matter what year it was published. So thanks for the warning. I haven’t read any of Capote yet, but I see I’ll need to get on that soon. I hope you’ll have a great discussion about it in your group. :)

Thank you, Donna! The racism was a huge turn-off, but overall I'm glad I read the book. I had been curious about Capote for a long time.


message 3: by Alexandra (last edited Apr 06, 2018 02:22PM) (new) - added it

Alexandra I haven't read this one yet, but I have read In Cold Blood, so I agree with you, Capote could write. :D


message 4: by Lisa (new)

Lisa Vegan Wow! Really great review, Carmen. I found what you said about the book very interesting. I've seen the movie, but many years ago so I don't remember too much, but I remember enough to know that a LOT was left out of it.


Carmen Alexandra wrote: "I haven't read this one yet, but I have read In Cold Blood, so I agree with you, Capote could write. :D"

Thank you, Alexandra. I will have to check that out at some point.


Carmen Lisa wrote: "Wow! Really great review, Carmen. I found what you said about the book very interesting. I've seen the movie, but many years ago so I don't remember too much, but I remember enough to know that a LOT was left out of it..."

And changed. I think in the movie, if I recall correctly, (view spoiler) Completely not in the book and also completely at odds with the WHOLE, ENTIRE point of the freaking novel. SMH


Carmen And thank you, Lisa!


message 8: by Lisa (new)

Lisa Vegan Carmen, yeah I think so and yep I rarely appreciate the changes made from book to movie.


Carmen Lisa wrote: "Carmen, yeah I think so and yep I rarely appreciate the changes made from book to movie."

Well, especially when Hollywood feels like they have to 'fix' it. Changing one or two things to make it fit better to the screen vs. changing the whole freaking point is a big difference IMO.


message 10: by Lisa (new)

Lisa Vegan Yes I agree with you. It's when they change the whole spirit of the thing that I think what is the point that they would've been better off making a brand new story.


Carmen Lisa wrote: "Yes I agree with you. It's when they change the whole spirit of the thing that I think what is the point that they would've been better off making a brand new story."

Exactly.


Kandice This is, by far, my favorite review of yours yet! I love this book and it made me feel everything it made you feel, I'm simply not eloquent enough to express it.

Beautiful review!!!


Carmen Kandice wrote: "This is, by far, my favorite review of yours yet! I love this book and it made me feel everything it made you feel, I'm simply not eloquent enough to express it.

Beautiful review!!!"


Aw, you have made my day, Kandice. Thank you. :)


Cecily Brilliant review. And the fact you gave it 4*, despite strong flaws, and that those stars make sense, is a credit to the book and your review.


Kristin Excellent review, Carmen! Seriously. I don't think I can even try and come close to phrasing what you did so well. I have read In Cold Blood but did not enjoy it near as much as this one. I have seen the movie, but it has been ages, but I do know that it is DRASTICALLY different, particularly the ending. I'm looking forward to re-watching it. I will never see the book Holly and Audrey the same way again though.


Carmen Cecily wrote: "Brilliant review. And the fact you gave it 4*, despite strong flaws, and that those stars make sense, is a credit to the book and your review."

Aw, thank you so much, Cecily. :) I had to remove a star for the racism, it was just too disgusting for me. Otherwise it would have gotten five stars, as I think it was very well crafted.


Carmen Excellent review, Carmen! Seriously. I don't think I can even try and come close to phrasing what you did so well. I have read In Cold Blood but did not enjoy it near as much as this one. I have seen the movie, but it has been ages, but I do know that it is DRASTICALLY different, particularly the ending. I'm looking forward to re-watching it. I will never see the book Holly and Audrey the same way again though.

Dear Kristin,

Yes, Hollywood certainly used to want to end everything with a (view spoiler), and that I understand, but they messed up the whole entire meaning of the story. It was very strange.

I haven't read In Cold Blood, but now perhaps I'll pick it up. It helps that I actually know Capote could write, now.

And they really don't... explore her, um, profession in the movie. I feel like it is a lot more hidden in the movie, if not erased altogether.


message 18: by Alexandra (new) - added it

Alexandra Carmen wrote: "I haven't read In Cold Blood, but now perhaps I'll pick it up. It helps that I actually know Capote could write, now.
"


I put it off for a long time because anything that widely popularized or deemed a "classic" tends to be something I don't like. But when I got around to it I was sorry I put it off for so long.

It helps that I like True Crime stories, but it's definitely compelling reading.


Carmen I put it off for a long time because anything that widely popularized or deemed a "classic" tends to be something I don't like. But when I got around to it I was sorry I put it off for so long.

It helps that I like True Crime stories, but it's definitely compelling reading.


Thank you, Alexandra. I will check it out!


message 20: by Alexandra (new) - added it

Alexandra Carmen wrote: "Thank you, Alexandra. I will check it out! "

I'll be interested to hear what you think when you do.


Carmen Alexandra wrote: "Carmen wrote: "Thank you, Alexandra. I will check it out! "

I'll be interested to hear what you think when you do."


I will let you know. :)


message 22: by Alexandra (new) - added it

Alexandra Carmen wrote: "Alexandra wrote: "Carmen wrote: "Thank you, Alexandra. I will check it out! "

I'll be interested to hear what you think when you do."

I will let you know. :)"


:D


Chrissie It is always interesting to compare how friends react to books you have yourself read. We have both given it four stars but that is just the beginning of the comparison.

In Cold Blood is definitely worth reading.


Ɗẳɳ  2.☊ Nice review, Carmen, and nice catch on Holly's fear of being caged.

I agree there was a lot of casual slurs, but I never got the sense that Holly or the MC were racist. I just searched my ebook and the n-word only appeared twice. Once when describing how someone was holding a cigarette wrong, and the other when Holly was critiquing one of his stories and suggested that nobody wants to read about brats and n#%@s. She even liked the idea of having a baby that would look mix-raced, saying how cute it would be.

I also found this to be very well-written, and more enjoyable than In Cold Blood. Not because the subject matter was so much lighter but more that the plot was tighter and the story was concisely written. In Cold Blood included a sample page from Perry’s personal dictionary for Pete's Sake!


Carmen It is always interesting to compare how friends react to books you have yourself read. We have both given it four stars but that is just the beginning of the comparison.

In Cold Blood is definitely worth reading.


Thank you, Chrissie. I will definitely keep In Cold Blood in mind. :)


Carmen Nice review, Carmen, and nice catch on Holly's fear of being caged.

I agree there was a lot of casual slurs, but I never got the sense that Holly or the MC were racist. I just searched my ebook and the n-word only appeared twice. Once when describing how someone was holding a cigarette wrong, and the other when Holly was critiquing one of his stories and suggested that nobody wants to read about brats and n#%@s. She even liked the idea of having a baby that would look mix-raced, saying how cute it would be.

I also found this to be very well-written, and more enjoyable than In Cold Blood. Not because the subject matter was so much lighter but more that the plot was tighter and the story was concisely written. In Cold Blood included a sample page from Perry’s personal dictionary for Pete's Sake!


Thank you, Dan!

I was bothered by the racism. Sometimes I can brush things off, sometimes I can't, and this time I couldn't.

I can't compare this to In Cold Blood because I haven't read that one yet, but I do think I will be less interested in it. A quirky young woman is more interesting to me than serial killers.


message 27: by Joe (new) - added it

Joe Valdez Wonderful review, Carmen. I wish we read more of the same books because you did such a good job of describing what this novel is and putting it in perspective. It's probably one of the top five most politically incorrect well known books but does not seem to have been written to offend anyone or stir things up.


Carmen Wonderful review, Carmen. I wish we read more of the same books because you did such a good job of describing what this novel is and putting it in perspective. It's probably one of the top five most politically incorrect well known books but does not seem to have been written to offend anyone or stir things up.

Thank you, Joseph. Do you plan on reading this?


message 29: by Joe (new) - added it

Joe Valdez Carmen wrote: "Thank you, Joseph. Do you plan on reading this?"

Ultimately.


Carmen Joe wrote: "Carmen wrote: "Thank you, Joseph. Do you plan on reading this?"

Ultimately."


It seems like something you would enjoy. NYC. 1958. Charming and promiscuous young woman. Great writing.


message 31: by Joe (new) - added it

Joe Valdez Carmen wrote: "It seems like something you would enjoy. NYC. 1958. Charming and promiscuous young woman. Great writing."

You have been mining my data better than Jeff Bezos.


Carmen Joe wrote: "Carmen wrote: "It seems like something you would enjoy. NYC. 1958. Charming and promiscuous young woman. Great writing."

You have been mining my data better than Jeff Bezos."


😉


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