“Breakfast at Tiffany’s” &c.

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I bought this Truman Capote 700+ page book so that I can read and review some of its contents, including ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’.

Some of my other reviews of Truman Capote works can be found in the list HERE.

I have found it appropriate to recommend his work to readers who enjoy many of the horror and weird books I review on this site.

When I commence my review, it will be found in the thought stream below or by clicking on this post’s title above…

28 thoughts on ““Breakfast at Tiffany’s” &c.

  1. BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY’S

    Up to \”It’s a chamber of horrors.”

    “…her eyes had an assessing squint, like a jeweler’s.”

    … on the rare occasion 18-19 year old Holly Golightly takes off her sunglasses!

    The unnamed narrator’s engaging portrait of the chronically key-losing Holly, sharing the same block of flats and her wholly go-lightly relationships. She calls him ‘Fred’ after her brother, so I will call him Fred, too. Fred is recounting all this some years after the events, after being reminded of her by an African sculpture found by others connected with Holly when on an expedition to the wilds of that continent, a sculpture that looks remarkably like a likeness of Holly’s head! A preternatural synchronicity worthy of my Dreamcatching…?

  2. \”I hate snoops.”

    “Very few authors, especially the unpublished, can resist an invitation to read aloud.”

    Holly’s version of small talk or flirtation with ‘Fred’ is either verbal diarrhoea or an amusing creative use of bending, veering, twisting in conversational audit trails, as she covers the subject of fiction writers like ‘Fred’, lesbians and Sally Tomato (the man she visits in jail), and more.
    Temperamental, too.
    To the background of pigeons “gargling on the fire escape.”

  3. \”You always nigger-lip.”

    “She isn’t a phony because she’s a real phony.”

    ‘Fred’ tells us that Holly turns over a new leaf after their argument, and gets her own entrance key, without her now bothering him. But then they later re-engage and when ‘Fred’ goes round for drinks, she is showering, and he meets OJ Berman who spills the beans of the low-key filmic career of Holly, expecting more knowledge than ‘Fred’ actually has, until Holly emerges from the shower and picks up the cat…
    Later I shall pick up the thread…
    Meanwhile, we garner more of the gestalt of Golightly, with our building up the trickledown leitmotifs of the wittily-honed text. A lightsome Goliath of a work, if that is not a contradiction in terms,

  4. \”I left her to enjoy it.”

    “After that, marriage and divorce sustained his place in the tabloid-sun.”

    A tabloid-sun in 1958?
    Holly’s gathering of three becomes a real party of sparklingly conveyed characters, each of whom is a stranger to the other, all of them invited by Holly discretely if not discreetly!
    Her cool chatter exposes aspirations regarding Tiffany’s… Along with the phrase ‘ego tagging’.

    And a wonderful character called Mag Wildwood…

    “She was a triumph over ugliness, so often more beguiling than real beauty.”

  5. \”all the way home.”

    “The saleslady was occupied with a group of nuns who were trying on masks.”

    Sounds like a Federico Fellini film to me, as Holly and ‘Fred’ go out to celebrate his having a story accepted for publication.
    Then, with Holly’s encouragement, stealing masks from a shop by wearing them before walking out without paying for them.
    That’s a rum do, too. Seems to me to be a perfect emblem for all wordprint-masked fiction itself?

  6. \”I’ll give you two.”

    “She sped from one book to the next, intermittently lingering on a page, always with a frown, as if it were printed upside down.”

    “We had an irresistible guide, most of him Negro and the rest of him Chinese, and while I don’t go much for one or the other, the combination was fairly riveting:”

    “That’s how your stories sound. As though you’d written them without knowing the end.”

    The last two statements are Holly’s. And there are many other indications of the polarities of her self: so many polarities that she spins in the mind of the reader. Good and bad, cruel and kind, honest and dishonest, disloyally promiscuous and generously loyal – an interbreeding within the single soul, a miscegenation of the birdcage mind.
    Like that earlier quote about someone else: an overcome ugliness can excel intrinsic beauty. We can only hope while we shake our heads and wonder if the St Christopher Medal — bought by ‘Fred’ for Holly in Tiffany’s before she leaves on her South American trip — lost its own way rather than Holly losing it herself?

  7. \”and things disappear.”

    “Never love a wild thing,”

    Never love a wild book unless you want to be made wild yourself.
    We now learn Holly’s real-name and the touching backstory, here become front of stage, about once being ‘married’ when she was 14 to a man named Doc Golightly.

    “–it’s better to look at the sky than live there.”

  8. \”unlike any other I’ve lived.”

    “Miss Margaret Thatcher Fitzbue Wildwood.”

    So that is Mag’s full name!
    Some amusing as well as sad misunderstanding, as Holly’s breakdown is not concerned with a lost lover called Rusty but her brother Fred’s loss in action. She stops calling me ‘Fred’ from that point on.
    She has a Brazilian boy friend now and tries to learn Portuguese, and I am jealous, I admit to myself.
    Intriguing, in this context, that, in my current review of a Brazilian author, just started, of Clarice Lispector’s stories here, I had reason earlier today to mention Truman Capote’s work.
    As I read on, Holly’s character, as well as my own, develops almost to the point where we literally LIVE. I wonder if Lispector’s ‘Obsession’ and sense of polarised or magnetised destinies are drawing us (Holly and I) nearer and nearer, despite the wildness of temperament?
    But what about the Tobacco Tapioca? Best not to describe it.

  9. \”please feed the cat.”

    “Suddenly, watching the tangled colors of Holly’s hair flash in the red-yellow leaf light, I loved her enough to forget myself, my self-pitying despairs, and be content that something she thought happy was going to happen. Very gently the horses began to trot, waves of wind splashed us, spanked our faces,…”

    My horse-riding with Holly before she leaves for Brazil is exuberant, exhilarating – and eventually dangerous. But then her visiting Sally Tomato in Sing Sing suddenly makes sense soon afterwards. Watch the famous film of this novella if you want to know about this turn of events, I guess. Not that I have ever watched it.

  10. \end

    “; her eyes were dilated by unhappy visions, as were mine: iron rooms, steel corridors of gradually closing doors.”

    The gradually closing doors of this work, as Holly skedaddles off to Clarice Lispector Land. I eat a galaxy chocolate in celebration of this fine work. Sorry for her cat, though. And the possibly green guitar…

    “The guitar filled with rain,…”

    Holly a literary icon of a character. Heartwarming. Go lightly when you cross swords with her words, Tobacco or Tomato Tapioca notwithstanding.

  11. And now to another novella:

    THE GRASS HARP

    I can’t resist quoting a whole paragraph from this work’s opening pages:

    “Imagine what it must have been for her when I first came to the house, a loud and prying boy of eleven. She [Dolly] skittered at the sound of my footsteps or, if there was no avoiding me, folded like the petals of a shy-lady fern. She was one of those people who can disguise themselves as an object in the room, a shadow in the corner, whose presence is a delicate happening. She wore the quietest shoes, plain virginal dresses with hems that touched her ankles. Though older than her sister, she seemed like someone who, like myself, Verena had adopted. Pulled and guided by the gravity of Verena’s planet, we rotated separately in the outer spaces of the house.”

    The narrator, at eleven years old, is adopted by his Aunt Verena after his mother died…and he falls in love with Dolly, living with Verena.
    I infer Dolly tantalisingly told him about the grass harp…

  12. \”the dwelling whippoorwills.”

    “If some wizard would like to make me a present, let him give me a bottle filled with the voices of that kitchen, the ha ha ha and fire whispering, a bottle brimming with its buttery sugary bakery smells–”

    Growing-up measurement marks still there on the wall like scars, the boy narrator reaches the age of 16 in an idyllic world with Dolly (and her commercial dropsy medicine) and her friend Catherine – exquisitely characterised – and the tree house like a ship that seemed to “sail along the cloudy coastline of every dream.”
    And Aunt Verena once scorned in Sapphic love…

  13. \”shook down their dew.”

    “…the autumn winds would be curving through the taut red grass, releasing all the gone voices,…”

    I gain more of a sense of the magical domain of the China Tree, the Tree House and the ghosteopathic grass…when the trio of us — Collin the narrator, together with Dolly and Catherine — plan to billet there, to escape Verena (and her wide-boy accomplish, Dr Ritz – what a characterisation!) who plan to exploit Dolly’s marketable dropsy medicine, a recipe known only to Dolly…

  14. \”Do I remember you offering a drumstick to anybody who would like it?”

    Hilarious, well-characterised group of holy citizens hunt out the trio in the tree house, the trio who have just been fraternising with a local lad who gave them cigarettes.
    One thing about Capote is that age is often defined but is equally indefinable. I am not sure if this section’s quoted telegram from Dr. Ritz to a sheriff in another town giving the trio’s ages is correct. If it is correct, the formidable Dolly and Catherine are much older than I anticipated. It seems certain Collin is only 16, but probably older than his actual age, too. The reader is ever on a shifting ground of wild precociousness or miniaturised maturity.

  15. \”But here we are, identified: five fools in a tree.”

    “Spirits are accepters of life, they grant its differences — and consequently are always in trouble.”

    The trio in the the tree thus becomes five, honest-to-goodness outliers all, and the atmosphere and bonhomie over a drumstick of chicken: one of the most heart-warming scenes in all literature, I suspect. Particularly by the characterisation of Judge Charlie Cool, one of this famous five in the tree. They could all be in their teens or ninety-something.

  16. \”It was the last thing I saw.”

    “Wind surprised, pealed the leaves, parted night clouds; showers of starlight were let loose: our candle, as though intimidated by the incandescence of the opening, star-stabbed sky, toppled, and we could see, unwrapped above us, a late wayaway wintery moon: it was like a slice of snow, near and far creatures called to it, hunched moon-eyed frogs, a claw-voiced wildcat. Catherine hauled out the rose scrapquilt, insisting Dolly wrap it around herself; then she tucked her arms around me and scratched my head until I let it relax on her bosom–You cold? she said, and I wiggled closer: she was good and warm as the old kitchen.”

    Another whole paragraph I could not resist quoting.
    Despite the exquisite nature of this sentimental setting of a human quincunx and the tree house, despite the call by the cool Judge for them all to issue secrets and make them into one face, one body, there is a suspicion of things more than meet the eye, of at least one hidden desire, of secrets below secrets, and of a certain antipathy about other races…. Unpolitically correct?
    That edge to the sentimentality makes it even more exquisite.
    And there is an an aura of Stephen King, as I pointed out earlier about Capote’s story ‘Master Misery‘…

  17. \”…singing a music that seems a blizzard of butterflies flying,”

    “…Dolly and the Judge, who, like two children lost in a witch-ruled forest, were asleep with their cheeks together.”

    The idyllic quincunx thrown to the wind of recrimination, and innocence waylaid. The various characterisations amass, miscegenations to the skin, and a whiskery catfish is used like a morning star.
    All amid the rumoured machinations of Verena and Ritz. Confusion is the only clarity, because if life is clear it is not life at all?

  18. \”…a painted clown, flopping, powdered, elegantly angular.”

    “The field of grass was without voice, no pheasant rustle, furtive flurry; the pointed leaves were sharp and blood-red as the aftermath arrows of a massacre:”

    …and that speaks of the aftermath beyond the diaspora of the quincunx, but the quincunx’s central dot remains Collin as he travels incognito in Riley’s car to visit the delightful bakery of Mr and Mrs C.C. County.

  19. \”catching his death.”

    “…well, maybe, I deserved a gingerbread man.”

    …as Judge Cool once deserved a drumstick?
    Collin, after tearful catharsis in front of the Countys, brazens it out in town, glimpses Catherine’s goldfish bowl in her jail window, listens secondhand to a camp barber’s account of Verena’s monetary shafting by an absconded Ritz…
    And much more swirling around the race consciousness of those days, those people. The text flows through you like syrup, peppered with various necessary angsts that strangely help that flowing.

  20. \”I do believe you’re sitting on my father.”

    “She saw everything first, and it was her one real vanity to prefer that she, rather than you, point out certain discoveries: a birdtrack bracelet, an eave of icicles — she was always calling come see the cat-shaped cloud, the ship in the stars, the face of frost.”

    Me, too, like that description of Dolly. So, come see two quotes above that should be famous quotes from all great literature.
    And we meet one of the great scenes of literature featuring Sister Ida and her fifteen children – and her God’s washing-line.
    Come, see.

  21. \”…newspaper picture puzzles; find five boys and an owl in this drawing of a tree.”

    “The overloaded tree house gave an evil creak; from my vantage point, its tenants seemed a single creature, a many-legged, many-eyed spider upon whose head Dolly’s hat sat perched like a velvet crown.”

    This is delightfully like the Famous Five or Swallows and Amazons with postcocious adults acting as the children, while first listening to Sister Ida’s entrancingly brave narration of her equally brave backstory — followed by their defence of the tree house against invaders…
    The highlight of this section was one of Ida’s little girls who had a secret name she wanted to keep secret. I hope it is not a spoiler to divulge that her name turned out to be Texaco Gasoline…

  22. \”the woods we left to winter.”

    “The rain had thickened, fish could have swum through the air; like a deepening scale of piano notes, it struck its blackest chord, and drummed into a downpour that, though it threatened, did not reach us: drippings leaked through the leaves, but the tree-house stayed a dry seed in a soaking plant.”

    The invasion finishes with two dying falls, except they are only dying ones in the musical sense. Riley’s been potshotted from the tree, and taken away for medical care, and Dolly decides a deadly decision between Verena and Judge Cool. All swaddled in the most capacious capotements of rich text,

  23. \”We listened.”

    image“Houses at night announce catastrophe by their sudden pitiable radiance.”

    Aftermath, denouement, musical coda, call it what I might, this last section is a poignant profit and loss of life’s relentless spirit of clinging on to the grassy earth, all fingers and toes, like a headstone without stone, a harp without strings.

    From ‘walking pneumonia’ to their painting a ‘skeleton suit’ for Collin, we are left with a warm feeling in the heart and the sound of blades strumming and a real harp with earth’s real strings… A green guitar again?

    “I’ve read that past and future are a spiral, one coil containing the next and predicting its theme. Perhaps this is so; but my life has seemed to me more a series of closed circles, rings that do not evolve with the freedom of a spiral: for me to get from one to the other has meant a leap, not a glide. What weakens me is the lull between, the wait before I know where to jump.”

    (End)

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