Friday, November 9, 2012

reads #9: september 2012

Breakfast at Tiffany's (Truman Capote, 1958)

I have to say it puzzles me that the first thing you generally hear about Truman Capote's Breakfast at Tiffany's is that it's NOTHING like the movie (or vice versa). Well yes, the ending is different. Yes, the narrator (Buster, aka 'Fred') is a bit of a loser compared to the dazzling blonde Paul in the film, yes there's little confusion as to what Holly Golightly's doing for a living in the book, whereas in the movie you could easily not notice it. Yes, the language is a bit cruder. Yes there's no 'conventional' love story between 'Fred' and Holly... but what did one expect? It had to be hollywood-ised. All of these for me are mere details, the essence is the same. That is Holly Golightly's fiery nature (and to think that Truman Capote wanted to cast Marilyn Monroe...). All her best lines are there: the mean reds, the sense of belonging or running free, the lipstick, etc... Sublimed by Truman Capote's writing which is incredibly cinematographic. I couldn't choose which I prefer between the book and the film, they're the same to me, but one has a happy ending and the other a truer-to-life, gritty feeling.

With Breakfast at Tiffany's, you also get 3 other short stories. House of Flowers which is about a young Carribean prostitute who discovers love. A Diamond Guitar is the story of a tragic friendship inside a prison. And finally, A Christmas Memory where Truman Capote recalls his childhood and his special best friend.
I enjoyed them all, Capote has this way of writing that shoots clear pictures in your mind. I don't think I'll ever forget that scene from A Diamond Guitar where the two prison friends are eating oranges under the pine trees. I swear I could smell it all. The short story though that particularly left a mark on me is A Christmas Carol and that's where my favourite quote of this book is from.
Truman Capote made a screen adaptation of it where he narrates the story himself with his wonderful voice. With Christmas coming, it feels apt that I should link it here.

Favourite quote: My, how foolish I am! You know what I've always thought? I've always thought a body would have to be sick and dying before they saw the Lord. And I imagined that when He came it would be like looking at the Baptist window: pretty as colored glass with the sun pouring through, such a shine you don't know it's getting dark. And it's been a comfort: to think of that shine taking away all the spooky feeling. But I'll wager it never happens. I'll wager at the very end a body realizes the Lord has already shown Himself. That things as they are, just what they've always seen, was seeing Him. As for me, I could leave the world with today in my eyes.

PS: I am now on Goodreads if you'd like to add me, I am curious to know what you are reading. If you don't have an account, you can tell me about it here if you'd like.


Jane said...

The book version of Breakfast at Tiffany's blew me away, it's one of my favourite books now. I must say I do like it better than the movie. I enjoyed the three short stories that came with it as well; I didn't realise there was a short film of A Christmas Memory, thanks for the link!

moira said...

out of curiousity, did you watch the movie or read the book first?

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