Thursday, January 7, 2010

Week 1: Breakfast At Tiffany's - Truman Capote (192 pages)

When I embarked on this book reading project it was with enthusiasm tinged with a bit of trepidation. I have been known to bite off more than I can chew on more than one occasion, but this seemed to be the ultimate mix of two things I love: Reading and projects. This project affords me the opportunity to read more – something that has been missing in my life the last few years. It is also a project I can get enthusiastic about because I like mapping out which books I am going to read, each book’s length and will I be able to fit my busy life into my book reading plans. So far, I’m juggling it well. However, this is just January!

I have seen the movie Breakfast at Tiffany’s at least a dozen times. It even makes my top 50 favorite movies of all-time list, so color me a little embarrassed that I had never read the source material. The first thing that struck me about the book is that it is set 20 years earlier than the film. The book is also quite a bit darker than the feel-good film featuring the lovely Audrey Hepburn. Some of the elements are still the same, but the tone is nastier, I would say. Holly has no problem referring to black people as “coons” or “darkies” and generally disparaging those that don’t meet her social standards. I guess I was shocked, but really should not have been given the time and place this story occurs.

The story is about a year in the life of Holly Golightly and the unnamed narrator that Holly affectionately names Fred (after her favorite brother). The other main character in the book, Joe Bell the neighborhood bartender, had great affection for Holly. It is interesting to note that this character was deleted completely from the film version. Holly is a whirlwind of activity and subterfuge and is clearly a woman who is hiding from something, running away seeking to find “something always better” on the horizon. In the film we get a quirky character that seems to change her mind as the wind blows. However, in the novel, although Holly does seem quirky, there is definitely thought and calculation behind what she does. Conniving, though a harsh word, is the one that popped in my mind most frequently while reading the book.

If you have not read Capote, I would strongly recommend this book. He has a great voice and I found it hard to put the book down. Though it was quite different from the movie, I really quite enjoyed it.

1 comment:

  1. Great review! You have me even more interested in this especially because, color me embarrassed, but I haven't read it OR seen the movie. Yes, my head hangs in shame.