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13 July 2008 @ 09:44 pm
distance has no way  
Breakfast at Tiffany's, Truman Capote

My edition of this - liberated (read: stolen) from my aunt's bookshelf, because I believe books are made for reading, not decoration - has four short stories in it: Breakfast at Tiffany’s, House of Flowers, A Diamond Guitar and A Christmas Memory. I don't know if that's customary, but obviously I, being an idiot, thought they were chapters. Regardless.

I'm not sure what to say about them. A Christmas Memory was vapid, inconsequential, with pretty writing - but it sent a chill through me at the last. A Diamond Guitar wasn't half what it set itself up to be, and the scenario itself wasn't believable for what it was. House of Flowers was pure insane. Breakfast at Tiffany's was definitely the best. I must watch the film; I'm curious to see how they made a script out of that.

Holly Golightly was tres fab. It struck me that her dialogue - her way of going on, is very like the way certain people write 'charming' characters. sarahtales is the most obvious example. The only thing about it is that she was never redeemed, at least in Capote's eyes. He decides she's a phony and a 'time-waster', not anyone else. Then again, Capote - or whoever the narrator in that story is - doesn't set himself up as the most reliable source. For eg, wanting to hit people when they criticise your writing? Not exactly the best way to advance your publishing career, yo.

Plots et cetera aside, his writing is truly gorgeous.

It's better to look at the sky than live there. Such an empty place; so vague. Just a country where the thunder goes and things disappear. (Breakfast at Tiffany's)

On love: You feel as though pepper has been sprinkled in your heart, as though tiny fish are swimming in your veins. (House of Flowers)

Her smile was fragmentary, it clung to her lips like cake crumbs. (House of Flowers)

(I can't help the naughty wistful thought that it's a shame such lush, lyrical prose wasn't attached to stories that are more ... substantial. Then again, it's not like I've read anything else by him. Maybe In Cold Blood is lugubrious enough to rival Eliot. Or, you know. Not.)

I'm most amused by how easy this was to read after slogging through Middlemarch, Love, Oscar and Lucinda, and Kim. When I first liberated (read: stole) this, it was quite the switch from whatever I was reading at the time - Maeve Binchy or Pterry or Meg Cabot or Georgette Heyer, I suppose. It was one of the reasons I abandoned it, short as it is. I'm very proud of myself for not weakening at all in the last month and a half.

Next ... hmm. Finish Madame Bovary, The Inheritance of Loss or Vanity Fair? Or start Sons and Daughters, On the Road or The Godfather? Meh, I'll probably end up falling asleep over the rest of Atonement. (Oh yeah: I made a Solemn Vow to finish all the books in my shelves that were never finished or - in some cases - started. The pain, you guys, is not to be believed. Me/classics/literary masterpieces =/= OT3.)
 
 
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Really great hairseshat1 on July 13th, 2008 09:08 pm (UTC)
Ha, I have made that same promise. I have already broken the "no buying new books til you get at least half way through" part of the one I was doing though. Oopsie! Hehe.

Also, I heard that Breakfast at Tiffany's in the book is *very* different to the movie, but both good in their own right. I can't say, I have never read the book, though I will when I find a copy to liberate (heh). I love the film though - light enough to watch when you're not feeling up to heavier stuff but plotty and interesting enough to stop you from wondering away when more than 5% of your brain is working (read: never if you're me!)
every Starbucks should have a polar bear: Audrey Hepburnscoradh on July 13th, 2008 09:29 pm (UTC)
I'm really, really tempted to buy Havemercy ... the only thing stopping me is that I'd have to go through the net and, well, no visa! Otherwise, I have been very good.

That picture of Audrey Hepburn with the pearls is so iconic. I think I should watch it just for that. :D
post potter omnia tristes estspare_change on July 13th, 2008 10:09 pm (UTC)
I think the last time I read "Breakfast at Tiffany's," you hadn't been born yet! But I do remember appreciating the fact that Capote never allows himself to become blinded by Holly Golightly's apparent charms. I don't have very much patience for writers who are too in love with their own creations to have any distance from them.

Capote was apparently really unhappy that Audrey Hepburn was cast -- he wanted Marilyn Monroe, whose lush sluttiness fit the character better than a waifish gamin. As much as I love Audrey, I would love to have seen a Marilyn play the role.
every Starbucks should have a polar bear: Art: frangipaniscoradh on July 13th, 2008 10:22 pm (UTC)
I think the last time I read "Breakfast at Tiffany's," you hadn't been born yet!

I gotta admit, that's kind of hilarous. :D

Oh, it's a refreshing take on the trope. But still and all, I'm warped by fanfic - I really would have liked a longer story, where she fell in love with some sweet, decent guy and they just ... weren't false. Together.

I'm so influenced by that pearls 'n' sunglasses pic of Hepburn that I actually imagined Audrey as Holly. I'd find it a little hard to put in Marilyn, although the descriptions do match her better. And yet - if I'd thought of her like that, it would have put my hackles up. I like my gamine!Holly.

(It's a little weird that he never asks why she called herself Holiday, though! That was a random lol.)
pir8fancier on July 13th, 2008 11:20 pm (UTC)
Capote despised the film version. Of course, Hollywood couldn't possibly make Audrey Hepburn a prostitute, so they just made her a party girl. It's one of my favorite stories of his, but if you want the "true" Truman, I suggest you read a book of his magazine pieces, and, of course, In Cold Blood. The book that destroyed him. The biography of Truman by Gerald Clarke is pretty good.
every Starbucks should have a polar bear: Art: socksscoradh on July 13th, 2008 11:30 pm (UTC)
HAHAHA SO SHE WAS A PROSTITUTE? I'm telling you, I'm so dumb when it comes to literature. So that's what the 'fifty dollars for the powder room' meant? (I was wondering could you buy stuff in powder rooms in the forties ... nuts and condoms, idek.)

*sigh* I know the story of In Cold Blood and it so doesn't appeal to me. Plus, there's those other thirty books to get through this decade ... but for the sake of his prose, I'll add it to the 'future, maybe' list.
pir8fancier on July 13th, 2008 11:52 pm (UTC)
It's not really out there that Holly was turning tricks; he's pretty sly about inserting enough hints. But I also think that he wasn't judging her for it either, which is another reason why it was only implied.

In Cold Blood should be read not for the subject matter, but really for the writing style. Although Truman liked to think he coined the entire approach, he certainly was one of the first authors to almost erase the POV and present a story like it was fact. But I think he WAS the first one to publish a blockbuster (and this book took the country by storm when it was published) using this technique. This was the era when you didn't have blockbusters either. Mailer pretty much stole the whole concept for Armies of the Night. It's Truman's finest writing. After that he descended into rampaging alcoholism and narcotics abuse. And, really, small wonder because he couldn't finish the book until the murderers were hanged. He became their friends and yet he had to have them die to finish the book. The story about how ICB was written is just as fascinating as the book itself.
every Starbucks should have a polar bear: Art: rose petal bowlscoradh on July 14th, 2008 12:12 am (UTC)
I did think some of her assignations were fancy- (and payment) free. Jose? I liked the implication that he was open-minded about homosexuality too, cf: Holly's monologues.

Heh? Does that mean it's written like a historical biography? You're not really selling it to me here. ;D (Not because it's not good, I just have a very limited view of what constitutes fun reading. Then again. I read Middlemarch.)

Mailer. That's another guy I need to read. And more Kurt Vonnegut.

pir8fancier on July 14th, 2008 12:27 am (UTC)
Turning the occasional trick was really incidental. The thing with Jose was real. And Truman was one of the first people who were completely unfront about their sexuality. I mean, he just said it out loud and proud. Like Gore Vidal (that is someone you should read). Given this was the 1950s and 60s, they had lots of cojones for putting it out there that they were gay.

The style is really more journalistic. It's spare and, again, it's the POV is muted. It's written like a documentary, but it's not dry at ALL. Of course, now, a lot of people write like that, but then it was quite revolutionary.

Mailer? Sigh. One of those brilliant writers who hates women so much that I cannot read his stuff. I mean, really, his misygony is overwhelming. He was married about 8 times and stabbed one of his wives. Yet, I can't stay that he's not a brilliant writer, he is. Just can't read him.

Vonnegut? Yeah. Gore Vidal's historical series is fascinating. One of the BEST American writer's, bar none, is Joan Didion. Both she and Vidal are superb essayists as well. As a near doctor, you might want to read her "Year of Magical Thinking." It's about the year after her husband's death.
every Starbucks should have a polar bear: Art: For the Roadscoradh on July 14th, 2008 08:59 pm (UTC)
Given this was the 1950s and 60s, they had lots of cojones for putting it out there that they were gay.

It's clearly guys like them who paved the way for gay marriage to (slowly) become legal. Go Truman.

Hmm, I must say I don't think I've read many books like that. See: my earlier habit of just abandoning books if they were too hard/didn't grab my attention enough.

I've heard that about him. I suppose I should try, just for the sake of it. Again. Managed Middlemarch and Love in the Time of Cholera. It'd be interesting to see if there's books I can hate more than those.

Cool! *takes note*
trichinopoly ash: confession: intellectaldehyde on July 14th, 2008 06:08 am (UTC)
i haven't read breakfast at tiffany's or seen the movie - although i've been planning to do both for the longest time. your post just reminded me how far behind i am on my list of books/movies i need to read/watch ;/
every Starbucks should have a polar bear: Art: Pretty headscoradh on July 14th, 2008 09:00 pm (UTC)
I think you'd take less time with the story - it's only 100 pages long! And I'm sure the film is at least one and a half, maybe two hours.
lecharmediscret on July 15th, 2008 04:59 pm (UTC)
Oh oh! Read On the Road! And the Godfather. I don't like any of Mario Puzo's other books, but the Godfather makes me so... happy.
every Starbucks should have a polar bear: Art: sunflowerscoradh on July 15th, 2008 08:01 pm (UTC)
Horse's heads in the bed make you happy? (Not that I'm judging. Much.)

Seriously, though, I think you're right. I went with Atonement and now I want to rip it up and stuff it IN MY EYES.