Thursday, November 7, 2013

Breakfast at Tiffany's by Truman Capote

This book was quietly wonderful. It wasn't one of those books you have no choice to love, that grab onto you and force you to love them, like Les Miserables or Wuthering Heights or Little Women. No; this was a book that quietly took its place in the corner, folded its hands, and just sat.

What struck me about this book was that there was virtually no significant plot. Sure, there were events, but the events mainly served to expose the character, Holly Golightly. Holly Golightly was the only thing that mattered in this story. Even the narrator was there only as our eyes, to enable us to see her, as a person profoundly interested in her.

Holly is not the everyman that novels are famous for, the main character that everyone can relate to. She's much better than that; she's completely unique. She's an enigma, a celebrity, a personality circus freak. She's wild. She's amoral. She's out of the bounds of anything society tries to impose on her.

That makes her sort of admirable, and sort of terrifying. I think that's how the narrator sees her. We have societal codes for a reason. They keep us all sane. But Holly doesn't fit in. And it's not because she's an awkward ignoramus or even a rebel. She's just Holly--and it just so happens that Holly isn't like everyone else.

But because she's not like everyone else--or anyone else, for that matter--she's always distant. Not just unattainable, but unconnect-able. She doesn't have real relationships. That's the sadness of her.

I was going to re-watch the film (which I haven't seen in a couple years, at least) after reading the book to compare and contrast, but with my busy school semester, I haven't had a chance to yet. But from what I remember, the book doesn't translate particularly well to the screen. How could it? The book is just snapshots of a fascinating character; it's not really a story, to my mind. Plus, it would be impossible to use the narrator in a movie the same way he was used in the book. (I seem to remember his character in the film being some sort of rich woman's plaything. Is that true?)

(Side note: This book was really hard to get hold of. Not one of my three libraries owned a single copy; I had to use inter-library loan. Is that weird, or is this really just not a popular book?)

What are your thoughts?


  1. Yeah, the guy in the movie is sort of a gigolo--IIRC he's "a writer," but he's letting this rich older lady keep him in comfort.

    Now I'm interested in reading the book. I'm surprised that it's so hard to get--though I guess that is the fate of many a novel that gets turned into a more high-profile movie.

    1. I'd be interested to see what you think of it. It wasn't much like I remembered the movie being.

  2. I really liked the book, though I don't recall it being hard to find. I liked the ending SO much better than the movie's -- I don't see those two being happy together, but Hollywood just assumes that "together" equals "happy" and changed it.

    In the movie, he's not so much a gigolo as a "kept man." He's a writer, but his older lady friend pays his bills. She's his sugar mama, to put it another way.

    1. Ah--I didn't remember that they got together in the movie. Yeah, that definitely doesn't make sense. I liked that in the book she got to go off and have more adventures and continue to be herself.