Sunday, February 08, 2009

Breakfast at Tiffanys

Despite its stature as a classic, I'd never read the book. I'm so glad I did. A slim 80-something pages, Breakfast At Tiffanys reads very quickly but I have to agree that it is a defining work by a then up-and-coming author who got it just right. Had it been any longer, it would have risked being overwritten and betrayed the outstanding economy of the story. I knew I was done for when Capote described Holly as "a fragile eyeful".

This was a New York of a different time. Much romanticized since, it was a city that could contain majesty amidst squalor, like the story's neighbors under the shared roof of a Manhattan apartment building.

I saw the movie version years ago and don't remember it all that well, though I knew then it was quite different from the novel. Usually, a book turned film can't be done justice because of its length and depth. Breakfast At Tiffanys certainly has the depth and one would think the book's length would accommodate, for once, film's limitations. Whether Hollywood wasn't at a place in time where they could stay closer to Capote's story or they simply chose this as a starring vehicle for Audrey Hepburn, I don't know. After reading the real Holly, I don't see Hepburn at all--less nymph and more strumpet is in order--but I am curious to watch it again.

Still, if this is one of those books you've always meant to get to, I encourage you to spend a short time with Capote and with Holly. It's a wild ride but a trip well worth taking.