Monday, November 18, 2013

If there's one thing I loathe, it's men who bite

I can't remember exactly what made me decide to pick up Breakfast at Tiffany's. Laura reviewed not this book but a book sort of about this book, which at least reminded me BoT was something I wanted to check out at some point. Then it was on sale. I'm sure that's what did it.

Going into this book I knew pretty much nothing about it. Or I guess actually I knew this
And nothing else. Not the context of this image, nothing other than "Hey, I've seen this image forty million times before and know it's from Breakfast at Tiffany's." And according to Laura's post this image barely has anything to do with the movie but was mostly promotional stuff that Tiffany's made her do in exchange for letting them film in their store. Oh, and I know that song by Deep Blue Something. Neither of these things really give you any clue what the story is about. Not that I think that's necessarily a bad thing.

In case you'd like to know what it's about, here's the plot. Narrator (Holly just calls him Fred after her brother and we never learn his actual name) and the bartender Joe are talking about a picture they've found in a newspaper. A man in Africa has created a sculpture of a woman that looks just like Holly Golightly, whom neither of them have seen in years. And then "Fred" tells us about meeting and befriending Holly, who I am pretty sure is the first manic-pixie dream girl. Except she actually has some depth, so that's fun.

Holly is...I think just calling her a prostitute isn't quite right. I suppose she's closer to an escort. She's a society girl who entertains wealthy men, who buy her things and give her money. Her goal is to marry one of them some day. Sex is implied, it's certainly not shied away from, but it's never discussed outright.

There isn't too much that happens, now that I think about it. She and "Fred" hang out, she throws parties, another society girl/escort moves in with her for awhile, she and "Fred" fight, she disappears. There's slightly more that happens, but really, it seems so secondary to the point of the novella, which is just learning about Holly Golightly. Except Holly really doesn't want you to know who she is or where she came from.

What really makes the story is the language. The only other Capote I've ever read is In Cold Blood, which has a very different subject in mind. Here are some of the quotes I particularly enjoyed

She was never without dark glasses, she was always well groomed, there was a consequential good taste in the plainness of her clothes, the blues and grays and lack of luster that made her, herself, shine so. 

I knew damn well I'd never be a movie star. It's too hard; and if you're intelligent, it's too embarrassing.

"You know those days when you've got the mean reds?"
"Same as the blues?"
"No," she said slowly. "No, the blues are because you're getting fat or maybe it's been raining too long. You're sad, that's all. But the mean reds are horrible. You're afraid and you sweat like hell, but you don't know what you're afraid of. except something bad is going to happen, only you don't know what it is."
("Fred" calls this angst. And he says it in a really dismissive way, because "Fred" kind of sucks.)

"Everybody has to feel superior to somebody," she said. "But it's customary to present a little proof before you take the privilege."

There was a plot point in the novella I was not expecting. It is sort of a spoiler so if you haven't read the book, I would recommend avoiding this section. I haven't seen the movie so I have no idea how they handle it, if at all.
This mysterious man seems to be stalking Holly and when "Fred" confronts him he tells "Fred" that he's actually her husband and her name is Lulamae and they got married when she was going on fourteen and oh, he was a middle aged man then with children just about her age and WHAT THE FUCK? And you know what "Fred" does? He BRINGS THIS GUY RIGHT TO HOLLY. Because "Fred" sucks. Holly ran away from this guy when she was little, the guy tells "Fred" this, and instead of thinking "Hmm this middle aged guy married a child. That's messed up" he thinks "I must return this man to his wife" or some other bullshit.

THEN later Holly says something about how she's only ever had eleven lovers not counting anything that happened before she was thirteen and OMG HOLLY, WHAT HAPPENED TO YOU? You never find out. Which I think is better cos if they really delved into that this would be a very different book. So I'm sort of torn between really wishing there was a prequel or something about Holly, and then just wanting there to be more hints in the text but nothing official.
*spoilers over*

There were three other stories included with Breakfast at Tiffany's but they' I read them because I wanted to say I finished the book but I can hardly remember two of them and the last one I can't remember at all. But that's ok because Breakfast at Tiffany's was worth it over the other stories. Now I just need to see the movie.

Title quote from page 17, location 210

Capote, Truman. Breakfast at Tiffany's and Other Stories. Vintage, 2012. Kindle edition. Originally published 1958