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21 August 2010 @ 04:05 pm
Breakfast at Tiffany's  
Breakfast at Tiffany's by Truman Capote is one of those stories that reminds you that, perhaps, not as much has changed in the past seventy years as you might think. It chronicles the friendship of a nameless aspiring author with Holly Golightly, a vivacious society girl who lives below him in a brownstone apartment in New York. It is supremely non-judgemental about Holly's promiscuity, despite being set in the middle of World War 2 and it doesn't appear to expect its readers to be particularly shocked or outraged by her. That said, I think you are expected to experience a kind of vicarious thrill at her lifestyle, but I suspect that is as true now as it was then.

As a character, and the story is primarily a character study, Holly Golightly is a little frustrating. Her behaviour is often very child-like, indeed that is presented as part of her attraction, but in the end the kind of faux-naivety of her attitudes seemed a little too idealised. Maybe that is the point. Her past is revealed to have been one of great poverty, marrying a Texan farmer at the age of fourteen in order to secure a home for herself and her brother. Many of the men, certainly the narrator, who surround her are, in part, attracted by her very childishness. Come to think of it, that makes the story more than a little creepy.

I enjoyed the story a lot and was interested to see what happened to Holly. But she is supposed to be fascinating and frustrating in, I think, a moth to the candle flame kind of way and I'm not sure I ever entirely bought into how particularly compelling she was to those around her. I certainly never quite believed in the extent to which certain people became intensely loyal to her.

My version of the story packages it up with three others by Capote, House of Flowers, A Diamond Guitar and A Christmas Memory. I can see why Breakfast at Tiffany's is better known that these other three. It's setting is more immediately identifiable and we observe the child-like Holly Golightly from the outside viewpoint of her upstairs neighbour. In the other three stories the viewpoint character has a slightly side-stepped view of the world, like Holly Golightly does, and that makes it harder to engage with the story.

I have a very vague memory of watching the film of Breakfast at Tiffany's at some point. My chief memory is of how incongruous it was to see Hannibal from the A-team acting opposite Audrey Hepburn. I've read a synopsis on on Wikipedia which suggests it is actually remarkably faithful to the book, although adding more of an idealised veneer to the almost romance between Holly and the book's narrator, but I actually remembered nothing of the detail.

This entry was originally posted at http://purplecat.dreamwidth.org/16846.html.
the little creep: snufkinnyarbaggytep on August 22nd, 2010 11:25 am (UTC)
I found it a strangely uncompelling story, which didn't really raise up any strong feelings in me. The film I hated.
Kargicqkargicq on August 23rd, 2010 06:27 pm (UTC)
Whereas I thoroughly enjoyed the film right until the ending (which at least is sent-up in other Hepburn movies), and haven't read the short story. I'll agree that in the film version, none of the characters are particularly sympathetic.
louisedennis: bookslouisedennis on August 23rd, 2010 06:41 pm (UTC)
I'm slightly surprised at how little I remember of the film. Certainly there were events in the book that took me by surprise which Wikipedia tells me also occurred in the film. But in the book the "romance" between Holly and the author is far more one-sided than it would appear to be in the film and he recognises it as such, at least from the distance at which he is writing.
louisedennislouisedennis on August 23rd, 2010 06:39 pm (UTC)
I found it interesting and easy to read but I was slightly flumoxed at why all these men are so fascinated by Holly. The film is an odd blank in my memory, beyond the actors.
Pollyjane_somebody on September 10th, 2010 11:05 pm (UTC)
Whereas conversely, when I first saw the A-team I remember finding it incongrous that an actor I associated with the classic movies I liked to watch on weekend afternoons was in a modern action-adventure series :-) (And of course there was also Starbuck from Battlestar Galactica, playing much the same character.)
louisedennislouisedennis on September 11th, 2010 04:03 pm (UTC)
I don't recall ever being particularly disconcerted by the Starbuck/Face thing - but then as you point out, the characters were sufficiently similar that it probably seemed quite natural and I was old enough, at that point, to work out that actors could appear in several shows, even if I found it disconcerting when they genre hopped.