Book Review – Truman Capote: Breakfast at Tiffany’s

The narrator of Breakfast at Tiffany’s commented on “the inevitable sense of shortcoming” many writers experience. (Page 21) I wonder if Mr. Capote had these sensations when he finished writing this book. I wouldn’t even classify it as a novella. He took a series of clichés, added elements of salacious gossip and combined them into a book. The result was predictable.

From my reading of Breakfast at Tiffany’s, I interpreted it at a character sketch of the protagonist presented through the eyes of the narrator. I couldn’t detect a plot. In essence, Holly Golightly shuffled through a series of unusual boyfriends. One worked as a horse doctor, another served as a Brazilian diplomat and yet another was an organized crime boss. While Holly’s unorthodox love life was interesting, I didn’t find it strong enough to sufficiently comprise a story.

I thought the narrator falling in love with her a very hackneyed story line. (I use the term ‘story’ loosely, here.) The two lived in the same building. He knew how frequently she changed men. She’d disappear for days. What caused the attraction?

On the same tangent, why did Holly keep moving from boyfriend to boyfriend? I understand she started out very poor (another hackneyed story line) and had aspirations of becoming a famous actress. (Once again, this story has been written myriad times.) Why? The depictions of her behavior suggested someone very flighty. It would’ve held my attention if the Mr. Capote presented some hints as to her motivations. “She grew up poor” just didn’t work for me.

To the extent Breakfast at Tiffany’s had a story I’m guessing one of the story sparks took place when…SPOILER ALERT….You know what? With all the clichés in this book, I’m sure readers already guessed by now: Holly’s long-lost husband showed up! Really? Truman Capote possessed skill as an author. I’m surprised that he couldn’t have come up with something more original here.

Since the author littered the book with clichés, I got the impression he saved all his creative ideas for the characters’ names. We encountered the protagonist, Holiday Golightly. We met a crime lord with a name that stuck terror into the hearts of his enemies. He went by the horrifying eponym: Sally Tomato. The author also introduced us to the narrator’s landlord named Sapphia Spanella. I didn’t find the book very good to begin with. The bizarre names just made it a caricature of itself.

At one point Holly told the narrator, “It’s better to look at the sky than live there.” (Page 74) I say looking at the sky is more entertaining than reading Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

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