Monday, 7 February 2011
It sneaks up on you
To my surprise, Breakfast at Tiffany's isn't only Breakfast at Tiffany's; it's Breakfast at Tiffany's plus three short stories, including "House of Flowers", "A Diamond Guitar", and "A Christmas Memory". And I have to say - I liked the stories much better than Breakfast at Tiffany's. (I wonder how many times I can repeat the novella's title before it loses all meaning and just reads like a jumble of random and unrelated letters?)
"A Christmas Memory" was especially good, fully embracing as it does what I think is Capote's best sub-genre, based on the 178 comprising this volume: Southern Gothic. "A Diamond Guitar" also fits the bill and Breakfast at Tiffany's has a few unexpected scenes of the SG which greatly improved my felings about it, but "A Christmas Memory" is the best. It's like a smoother, toned down, more optimistic Faulkner story - which makes the sad ending so much harder to bear. Yes, 15 minutes ago, I was weeping fit to die.
I wept fit to die at the end of Breakfast at Tiffany's as well, which really surprised me because while I have concluded that Capote was generally a very good writer indeed, his most famous book had some embarrassingly bad lines. The example that has most stuck with me: while riding horseback with Miss Holiday Golightly through a park in NYC, the narrator of BaT's describes the wind "spanking" their faces. I laughed out loud, in horror; then I cringed; then I felt a deep wellspring of pity building within me; then I wished anyone, anyone at all, had been around, so I could read it aloud to them and laugh with them. I thought, "The lengths some people will go to create an anti-cliche (i.e., a phrase you can be sure no one will ever steal from you)!" Ah well. We're none of us perfect, except David Mitchell and maybe also William Faulkner.
Bottom line: I like Truman Capote. At first, I wasn't so into his writing but it grew on me, in spite of some shaky bits in BaT's. In fact, it snuck up on me, and left me discovering how deeply involved I was in each tale only at the end when I found that I'd been sitting much closer to the waterworks than I'd realized.
I also owe you a review of Osamu Dazai's No Longer Human, which I'm hoping to do on Wednesday; tomorrow, I definitely can't do it as I'll be banished from my apartment as the water will be turned off all day - AGAIN - for repairs of some sort. Sigh.
(Book 7 for the Awesome Author Challenge!)