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Breakfast at Tiffany's: A Short Novel and Three Stories (1958)

by Truman Capote

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
7,172203952 (3.84)69
In this seductive, wistful masterpiece, Truman Capote created a woman whose name has entered the American idiom and whose style is a part of the literary landscape. Holly Golightly knows that nothing bad can ever happen to you at Tiffany's; her poignancy, wit, and naïveté continue to charm. This volume also includes three of Capote's best-known stories, "House of Flowers," "A Diamond Guitar," and "A Christmas Memory," which the Saturday Review called "one of the most moving stories in our language." It is a tale of two innocents--a small boy and the old woman who is his best friend--whose sweetness contains a hard, sharp kernel of truth.… (more)
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Showing 1-5 of 196 (next | show all)
Flawless writing. Brilliant story-telling. Unforgettable.
I winced more than once at the ugly racist language that was a sign of the time.
Remarkable... ( )
  mortalfool | Jul 10, 2021 |
I've been looking for a copy of this for a while to read but none of my local shops had one. I could have and maybe should have got it via Amazon but I prefer to use shops where possible. While wandering through my library I spotted it on the shelf and was annoyed that I hadn't thought of reserving it earlier.

This book appears in the '1001' books list and I was also aware that a very successful movie was made. I haven't seen the movie but of course have seen the images of Audrey Hepburn as Holly. Initially I was surprised at how short the story is, I expected it to be a few hundred pages and I suspect that because of this, the edition I read had a few short stories also added in.

I found Holly to be an odd character, I didn't like her but I also liked her at the same time. The fact that she basically lived off other people is something that initially grated with me but her flighty nature and innocent charm won me over. As the story develops and we find where she came from it also helped cement her charm.

The story had a few twists along the way and although I found it ok it never really sucked me in. The characters make it work rather than the plot. I am a bit of a sucker for post war New York, I really love books based in this era and this one has its own type of charm.

At no point was I ever completely won over by the book but I did enjoy it none the less. ( )
  Brian. | Jun 19, 2021 |
I read this short story and watched the movie in my early teens. I adored both. But I had never gone back to re-read or re-watch them.

After re-reading the book some 35 years later, I had trouble figuring out what I originally loved about the book. Holly Golightly is this bad-ass, debonair, wild young woman living an independent, and what appears to be a very lonely, life. Her character is amazingly cutting-edge and the story risque for the time it was written. Perhaps young adolescent me was drawn to this risk-taker?

Much older me was saddened, however. What became of Holly? Did she find her happiness? Perhaps she was happy, but as the story is told through her neighbour's point of view, it didn't appear to be to him. Perhaps this is the real charm of this story - to question what is happiness and how do we seek it? What is freedom, and how do we achieve it?

I also love the feminist themes that arise from reading this book. I don't know that I could have identified those when I was younger. Holly's behaviour is racy and certainly counter-cultural. And yet if she had been a man, the story would have been normal and no worth reading. Why is that? And does this still hold for today? What would a modern Holy Golightly look like?

Now I am off to rewatch the movie...

( )
  ColourfulThreads | Feb 18, 2021 |
"Breakfast at Tiffany's" is one of those stories that is such a classic that I can't recall anyone actually ever telling me about it; it has just been there in my greater awareness for decades. Last night I was sitting in my armchair, and noticed a vintage paperback copy of it on the floor next to me. I've never read it before, so I picked it up, and gave it a go in one sitting (it is only 85 pages long, and small pages at that).

ENERGETIC POIGNANCE
Immediately you can see why it is famous. It has the poignance and attention to emotional and energetic detail that you also find in a book like "Anna Karenina." "Perhaps my face explained she'd misconstrued, that I'd not wanted advice but congratulations: her mouth shifted from a town into a smile" (page 44). It's exchanges like this—where, if we were there, much of the interaction would be perceived subconsciously so that we don't even notice it happening—that bring a surreal clarity to the work.

AMERICAN PRINCESS ARCHETYPE
And then there's the content. Truman's homosexuality has not deterred from the way he has captured the iconic 20th century American princess. The racism and sexism condemns this story as a barbaric 20th century beast. Despite (maybe because of?) Capote's bigotry, he has captured a certain archetype that has significant cultural weight.

Our protagonist, Holly Golightly, is a whirlwind. You want her attention. Her world is under the compression of a sound engineer; she's so blasé about bringing you into the intimate folds of her life, and simultaneously it is as though nothing matters. Due to your infatuation, this leaves you desirous of her affections, which come like rain during climate change—unpredictable and inundating.

With a fleeting fondness, I recall the Holly Golightly's I've encountered, in all their intensity, spontaneity, and ephemerality. The evenings splitting a bottle of red wine at the retreat house in the Rockies followed by a two-person dance party. The mornings in the shower, washing each other's bodies. Holding hands while walking across the park, wondering at the perception of onlookers. Skinny dipping in the mountain streams. Kissing on the half-erected frame of a barn at sunset. Picking strawberries under a midnight full-moon. Watching the way eyes and hearts follow them across the dance floor. The pastels of dawn after an all-night conversation.

There's a timelessness to these experiences, not just because there's no knowing whether the next fling might be a decade or a lifetime away.

Setting aside our wistfulness and psychoses of longing, it seems there's still something essential about the human experience that Truman relates here, somehow tied into themes of innocent awe—of one another and the world.

FIRST PERSON PERSPECTIVE
And then there's the easygoing storytelling style Capote utilizes. Its him, telling his own story. He didn't try to tell the story from someone else's perspective, which may be why he was able to tell something so exceedingly relatable—there was no translation across identities necessary.

The story has a nostalgic feel to it, due to it being set in the past tense, a recollection of the iconic years of youth; "There is a brownstone in the East Seventies where, during the early years of the war, I had my first New York apartment" (page 9).

I recently picked up my dogeared copy of "The Rolling Stone Book of the Beats." Reading publications like Bookforum and the New Yorker, it's easy to see the continuous strand of slick New York hipster coming through. And, at the same time, I'm left wondering—was Capote a beatnik? Was this story frame-breaking for the 1950s? This is something I don't know. ( )
  willszal | Jan 4, 2021 |
It at first seems unpromisingly light, but Breakfast at Tiffany's proves to be an excellent novella. The story of a New York socialite doing New York socialite things doesn't sound like the most gripping of stories, but the fully-realised nature of Holly Golightly's character quietly works on the reader throughout. When combined with Truman Capote's rich but robust prose style and the cool glamour of the Big Apple in the Forties, you're taken in.

I never would've thought I'd be entertained by a character like Holly, the sort of girl-woman where "you can beat your brains out for her, and she'll hand you horseshit on a platter" (pg. 28), but Capote manages it. Nowadays, in the influencer/e-thot era of vain young women, Holly's self-regarding personality is much more common (though Holly they ain't) and has morphed into something fundamentally dislikeable. But something about the glamour, the innocence and the whispers of sincerity attending Holly's story win you over, perhaps because it comes from an earlier age when women like this were mercurial, a delight, a change of pace. Their own mind rather than a likes-chasing hive mind. It's writing like this which helped give New York its reputation as a writer's arena, and, by the end, you are completely settled and comfortable in the story's setting and cadences. It's writing almost as comfort food.

The other three stories in this collection ('House of Flowers', 'A Diamond Guitar' and 'A Christmas Memory') pale in comparison to 'Tiffany's'. The writing is good but they all progress and end much as you would expect them too, and none come close to the headline story for engagement. In fact, their greatest use is as a reinforcement to the conclusion one must reach about the book as a whole: it is frivolous, but in the best possible sense, and shows great writing craft. Ultimately, this is a worthwhile read and short enough to be given a chance even if it doesn't sound like your thing. It might surprise you. ( )
2 vote MikeFutcher | Dec 20, 2020 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Truman Capoteprimary authorall editionscalculated
Hall, Michael C.Narratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For Jack Dunphy
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I am always drawn back to places where I have lived, the houses and the neighborhoods.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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This record is for books which contain the stories Breakfast at Tiffany's, House of Flowers, A Diamond Guitar and A Christmas Memory. Please do not combine editions containing only Breakfast, or with editions that have a different selection of stories.
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In this seductive, wistful masterpiece, Truman Capote created a woman whose name has entered the American idiom and whose style is a part of the literary landscape. Holly Golightly knows that nothing bad can ever happen to you at Tiffany's; her poignancy, wit, and naïveté continue to charm. This volume also includes three of Capote's best-known stories, "House of Flowers," "A Diamond Guitar," and "A Christmas Memory," which the Saturday Review called "one of the most moving stories in our language." It is a tale of two innocents--a small boy and the old woman who is his best friend--whose sweetness contains a hard, sharp kernel of truth.

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CONTENTS:

Breakfast at Tiffany's [novella]

House of Flowers [short story]

A Diamond Guitar [short story]

A Christmas Memory [short story]
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Penguin Australia

4 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0141182792, 0141037261, 0241951453, 0734306210

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