Sunday, July 4, 2010

In which Snickers tackles short stories and Breakfast at Tiffany's.

The Book
Title/Author: Breakfast at Tiffany's: A Short Novel and Three Stories (Modern Library) by Truman Capote.
Published: The copy I read was published January 13, 1994 by Modern Library (first published 1958)
How I Got It: Oh, library, how I do adore you.
Why I Read It: I read it for the Goodreads College Students group. It was one of two books selected for June.
My Rating:
3 stars.

The Review

There's something freaky about short stories. They have the nagging tendency to haunt you - you get the feeling that the characters are looming ominously over your shoulder as you read.

Breakfast at Tiffany's was much the same. The actual "Breakfast at Tiffany's" story was delightful. It was different in lots of ways from the movie, the first being that Holly was generally more of a brat. I don't think that Audrey Hepburn, fantastic actress though she is, has the capability to really bring out what a childish and selfish and fashionably bratty character Holly is. Audrey's just too classy, and Holly's too brash - the two don't mix. Secondly, while the plots were more or less the same, the beginning and ending were COMPLETELY DIFFERENT from the movie. I won't go into details (since that would spoil the fun), but don't expect the happy ending you've swooned over in the movie. Still, the story is excellent in its own right - especially considering we would have never met the infamous character known as Holiday Golightly without it.

That was the enjoyable part, the part I would have given 4 stars.

The other three stories, "House of Flowers", "Diamond Guitar", and "A Christmas Memory", are what makes this edition of Breakfast at Tiffany's freaky. I found myself reading them with a cautious eye, waiting, just WAITING for an axe murderer to leap out from the pages and split my skull in two. I'm sure that this is in part due to the first collection of short stories I remember reading: Stephen King's Four Past Midnight. As a child, I vaguely remember reading some generally terrifying collection of horror stories that gave me nightmares. I can't even remember the title of the collection, only the cover image - a tree, looming ominously in faint sunlight. It doesn't help that my most recent short story read was A Good Man is Hard to Find and Other Stories, by Flannery O'Connor - talk about spine-chilling!

So there's nothing wrong with the stories themselves; it was mainly just my reaction to them. "A Christmas Memory" left me gnawing on my hangnails - I was just WAITING for the grandmother to die some horrible violent death, thus scarring the little boy for life. "House of Flowers" was the same. I didn't react quite as negatively to "Diamond Guitar" for some odd reason - I think maybe it had something to do with the fact that these characters were already in prison. It was all upfront from the get-go, and I appreciated this ease in my anxiety.

The catch here is that they're not supposed to be scary stories. I was able to perceive this through my haze of paranoia, which only served to frustrate me. I wasn't able to enjoy the stories as just that - stories.

Breakfast at Tiffany's is certainly worth more than 3 stars, and not just for the title story, either - the others are just as good. In my case, though, it was my deeply instilled auto-reaction to the short story what caused me to give it three stars. Short stories truly are an acquired taste.

For those of you who've read Breakfast at Tiffany's before, go ahead. Admit that you only read it for the Holly Golightly goodness, or for the Goodreads College Students group. You and I both know it's true. Do you disagree with my assumption? Please comment, and include why you read it, and what you thought of the OTHER stories, as well.


  1. Why did I read it? The first time was because of the movie, which I love dearly. I was disappointed because I liked Audrey's Holly much better. This one was just too brash, especially with Audrey looming over my shoulder. The second time I read it was because of a guy I was dating. I read it with the intention of liking it. In retrospect, I don't think I liked it any better the second time; I just pretended I did. I haven't read the other stories. But I'll read them soon and let you know my thoughts.

  2. I, also, picked up this book because I loved the movie. Honestly? I didn't like the story. I'm a sucker for a happy ending, and Holly reminded me far too much of some of the annoying, irresponsible friends I had in school. I think it was the director's choice to create a different Holly character, because I can't see the audience becoming too invested in Capote's Holly.

    As for the other stories - it wasn't just you. Breakfast at Tiffany's set the tone, so I was feeling this menacing vibe as I read each one.

    House of Flowers was this perverted little love story, and you wouldn't believe how hard I wished for them to live happily ever after.

    The Diamond Guitar had pretty good storytelling, had the same violence looming over it as the other stories, but didn't affect me so much. Probably because we could see where it was going from the first page.

    I agree on your thoughts of A Christmas Memory wholeheartedly.

    In any case, I found the entire book pretty depressing, but I'm a complete sap like that.

  3. I'll admit I read the collection just because I loved Breakfast at Tiffany's. Honestly though I was unimpressed, in fact I don't even remember the main story that well and can't recall if I ever read the other stories. One of the rare instances where the movie is much better and I most likely blocked the book because I didn't want it to ruin the movie

  4. I really wanted to read this but now I'm kind of turned off. I've read some Capote nonfiction which I enjoyed, but he's really different. I love the movie but I've heard before that the Audrey rendition isn't exactly like the story.

  5. I haven't read the book yet, either, though I did like the film (and now I have that song stuck in my head). Reading only Flannery O'Connor and Stephen King's short stories before would, I suppose, give one a skewed view of the medium. I recommend a dose of "Dubliners," by James Joyce, especially the stories "Araby" and "The Dead." They're haunting, just in a less murderous sort of way.


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