Posted by: Nathan | October 12, 2006

What About Breakfast at Tiffany’s?

No, not that Breakfast at Tiffany’s, nor that song about the movie–I write about the Truman Capote novella that started it all. Now, it’s been a month or two and a few books since I’ve read this puppy, but I’ll try to piece together a decent review anyway.

What stands out about Breakfast is its unyielding devotion to one subject who is also the main character: Miss Holiday GoLightly whose card states “Traveling” as her occupation. I suppose one could say this novella is really a overgrown character sketch. Holly is the book. The narrator (whom Capote never names but Holly calls “Fred” because he looks like her brother Fred) is completely fixated on Holly, and so is the reader. She is fascinating: the epitome of outgoing but always hiding herself from everyone. She is as sexually loose as one can be, yet she retains elegance, charm, and naivety.

The plot exists to showcase various facets of Holly. The narrator meets Holly because she lives in his apartment building. He becomes interested in her (it’s never clear whether it’s a romantic kind of interest or merely platonic–some argue that “Fred” is gay) and becomes her only real friend through all of her escapades. They have a falling out, then Holly leaves, and that’s it. This is a very simplified version; many of the escapades are funny, and some are really great to encounter (especially the horseback ride).

I gave away the ending because the plot is not why you should read this book. It’s a wonderful delving into the life of a woman who can’t help but affect those around her but never can quite understand herself. Holly is the reason to read the book. Additionally, it’s a really quick read: less than 11o pages in the version I read, which is why it’s so pathetic that Seinfeld‘s George can’t finish it*. It was a fun and entertaining read; I’ll grade it a B- and a 6.9/10. Capote accomplished what he set out to do very well, but it wasn’t a lot to take on either.

If you read to augment your life experience, read Breakfast. If you read for enjoyment, feel free to read it also. However, if you approach novels with an expectation of a neat plot and a tied-together ending, I’d stay away from this book; however, it’s never wise to expect closure form 20th Century novels. I’m glad I read it and would recommend it; you can finish it in an afternooon.

*George: “If it’s not about sports I find it very hard to concentrate.”

Jerry: “You’re not very smart, are you?”

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