Thursday, February 19, 2009

'Breakfast at Tiffany's'

by Truman Capote
Fiction/Classic/Novella, 1958
Penguin, trade pb, 146 p.
It’s New York in the 1940s, where the martinis flow from cocktail hour till breakfast at Tiffany’s. And nice girls don’t, except, of course, Holly Golighty. Pursued by Mafia gangsters and playboy millionaires, Holly is a fragile eyeful of tawny hair and turned-up nose, a heart-breaker, a perplexer, a traveller, a tease. She is irrepressibly ‘top banana in the shock department’, and one of the shining flowers of American fiction.
This edition also contains three stories: ‘House of Flowers’, ‘A Diamond Guitar’ and ‘A Christmas Memory’.
I’d read two other books by Capote before this one. In Cold Blood, which I thought was ok, but looking at it through modern eyes, just didn’t seem terribly shocking. Then last year I read Other Voices, Other Rooms, which I really didn’t care for. It started out well but completely lost me by the end. After Other Voices, Other Rooms I wondered if Capote just wasn’t for me. Breakfast at Tiffany’s is on the 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die List though so I thought I’d give it a try and ended up thoroughly enjoying it. What a great character Holly is, flirtatious, flighty, charming, vulnerable, capricious Holly! I haven’t seen the film yet, but Audrey Hepburn certainly helped turn her into a lasting, iconic character, and I’m glad to have finally ‘met’ her through the pages of the book. All in all it was a very fun read and proof that sometimes it’s worth trying an author again.
I knew damn well I’d never be a movie star. It’s too hard; and if you’re intelligent, it’s too embarrassing. My complexes aren’t inferior enough: being a movie star and having a big fat ego are supposed to go hand-in-hand; actually, it’s essential not to have any ego at all. I don’t mean I’d mind being rich and famous. That’s very much on my schedule, and some day I’ll try to get around to it; but if it happens, I’d like to have my ego tagging along. I want to still be me when I wake up one fine morning and have breakfast at Tiffany’s.
Along with Breakfast at Tiffany’s, this edition also contained three short stories, which I fully enjoyed as well. They were each quite different but I found each of them to be engaging glimpses into human nature. So it seems that Capote has finally won me over and I’ll be less hesitant to read something else by him in the future.

Read more about Capote at CapoteBio.
If you don't want to read the full novella, you can always read the Digested Classic version of Breakfast at Tiffany's in The Guardian.

First sentence: I am always drawn back to places where I have lived, the houses and their neighbourhoods.

My Rating: 4/5
(#7 for 2009, 1% Well-Read Challenge)

Also reviewed at:
Reading Matters
katrina's reads
Have you read and reviewed this title? Let me know and I'll link to it here.


  1. Capote's on my list of authors to read since I read Kim Powers' Capote in Kansas. When I get to him, I think I'll try this one. Thanks for the review!

    Diary of an Eccentric

  2. Hi nat :)
    I have the movie at home, love to watch it once in a while. I am going to read the book, never have, just reading a little excerpt I realize a lot was left out in the movie.
    Glad you finally got to like Truman Capote. It is true and shows how violent and frequent crime has become that IN COLD BLOOD has lost it's shock value, today's crimes make this book a simple who dunnit... The Movie did upset me when I saw it, I had arrived in the states recently when it showed on tv.

  3. Lovely review! I've never picked this up, although I've seen the movie. Sounds like I need to read the book as well!

  4. I always wanted to read this book, but still haven't got around to it. I have never read any Capote before but I have had books by him in my hands at the bookstore before... One of these days!

  5. I definitely like to give authors another chance if their first book didn't work for me. I've had some good surprises that way.

    Really enjoyed reading about this one. I've not read any Capote but one of these days I plan to. I may just have to start with this one!

  6. I know I'm strange but I have seen the movie so many times that I haven't wanted to read the book in case it ruins the movie in any way for me ... silly! I plan to read it this year though.

  7. I haven't read this one but I have seen (and loved) the movie. I have heard that the book is quite different from the movie (aren't they always?!) so I think that's why I have stayed away. Maybe I will have to change my mind...

  8. When I get around to reading Capote, I'll start with Breakfast at Tiffany's. Thanks, Nat.

  9. I really need to read this book. And see this movie. I mean, does it get more iconic that that picture of Audrey Hepburn? Really, I think not.

    I'm glad the third time was a charm for you and Truman Capote :-)

  10. I'm so glad you enjoyed it so much :)

  11. Although I have read and loved Truman Capote's short stories, I haven't read Breakfast at Tiffany's. I have seen the film many, many times over the years. I always cry when "Cat" gets unceremoniously dumped in an alley...

    I have loved "Music for Chameleons" and "Other Voices, Other Rooms" and read all the stories many times over the years. I recall hearing Capote reading "A Christmas Memory". If it was for a dramatised version of it, I cannot recall... hearing him speaking it was what sticks in my mind...

  12. I just read the first few pages of Breakfast" on Amazon... nothing like the film but now I HAVE to read it...

  13. Anna - I thought Capote in Kansas sounded really good when it toured last fall and added it to my wish list. Now that I've actually really enjoyed a Capote story I'm even more interested to read it.

    Sylvie - I've heard the film is quite different in places. I look forward to seeing it one of these days. It's sad how UN-shocked we are now by violence!

    priscilla - It really was a fun read!

    Kailana - I think Breakfast at Tiffany's would be a good one to start with.

    Iliana - I'll usually give an author another chance too but 3 duds or disappointing reads is my limit.
    Like I said to Kailana, I think this one would be a good introduction to Capote.

    Kristen M. - I can understand that, especially if you know it inside and out, it can be hard to accept a different version.

    Karen - It does sound like the book and the film are quite different but I'm curious to see it for myself.

    Rebecca - I'm looking forward to finally watching the movie one of these days.

    Booklogged - I do think this would be a good place to start with Capote. Hope you enjoy it when you get to it.

    Kim L - Such an iconic image! I'm glad I finally read it, and hopefully soon I'll get to see the film.

    Nymeth - I'm very glad too! :)

    Mudhooks - That would've been something to hear Capote himself read that story. And LOL - hope you enjoy reading the book!


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