reading / the classics club

Book Review – Breakfast at Tiffany’s, House of Flowers, A Diamond Guitar, A Christmas Memory

Goodreads blurb:

It’s New York in the 1940s, where the martinis flow from cocktail hour till breakfast at Tiffany’s. And nice girls don’t, except, of course, Holly Golightly. Pursued by Mafia gangsters and playboy millionaires, Holly is a fragile eyeful of tawny hair and turned-up nose, a heart-breaker, a perplexer, a traveller, a tease. She is irrepressibly ‘top banana in the shock department’, and one of the shining flowers of American fiction.

This edition also contains three stories: ‘House of Flowers’, ‘A Diamond Guitar’ and ‘A Christmas Memory’.

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My review:

First Impressions:

Breakfast at Tiffany’s – definitely not exactly like the movie, but still rather intriguing. Capote has the same skill with simple but effective sentences like Fitzgerald, and it makes me writer envious.”

House of Flowers – interesting. Perfect words and sparsely drawn but vivid characters. Capote really is quite amazing.

A Diamond Guitar – I think at this point, I’m more enamored of Capote’s descriptions than his plot, though it’s good as well.

A Christmas Memory – possibly the best of the lot. Beautifully written, and my heart was tugged.

Isn’t it nice to know that a book is a classic and an author is lauded as talented for good reason? Sometimes we hear so much about how good a book is or how amazing a writer is over the years, that when we finally get around to reading it/him or her, we are ultimately disappointed by the build-up.

Thank goodness that didn’t happen here.

I saw Breakfast at Tiffany’s the film within the last five years. Also, something that had been majorly built-up by others, and yet I still enjoyed it.

The book (as so many others have reviewed here on Goodreads) is different than the movie. Of course it is. Hollywood constantly changes the source material. Breakfast at Tiffany’s the movie is a romance and ends as such. The book is our introduction to the very first (to my knowledge) Manic Pixie Dream Girl and rightly so, (view spoiler)

Capote’s ability to construct a sentence has made me rather enamored with him. I haven’t quite felt like this since I read The Great Gatsby for the second time (when I found I actually liked that book). So far it seems to be an American ability: to craft a sentence sparingly but incredibly rich with color and shape.

Shall I show you what I mean?

“‘You can love somebody without it being like that. You keep them a stranger, a stranger who’s a friend.'”

“The way his plump hand clutched at her hip seemed somehow improper; not morally, aesthetically.”

“Like many people with a bold fondness for volunteering intimate information, anything that suggested a direct question, a pinning-down, put her on guard.”

“Very few authors, especially the unpublished, can resist an invitation to read aloud.”

The book is darker, much more inappropriate, than its film counterpart. Holly uses very un-politically correct words and in a way, that makes her different than Audrey Hepburn’s version. At the core, they are the same spirit. One is brunette, one blonde. One likes Moon River and the other “liked the songs fromOklahoma! “.

Holly Golightly is so much the Manic Pixie Dream Girl, and the narrator’s interest in her is never truly reciprocated. Which makes sense. You can’t save a girl like that.

She would have to save herself.

I hope to read this again in a year or two and find even more to that strikes me.

“House of Flowers” is interesting. I enjoyed it, but at the same time, the story is rather unsatisfying. Short stories often are as they leave the reader with questions that he or she is just supposed to accept as unanswered.

The descriptions are again, mind-blowingly perfect.

“Baby was like a wheel, round, rolling; junk rings had left green circles on several of her fat fingers, her teeth were dark as burnt tree stumps, and when she laughed you could hear her at sea, at least so the sailors claimed.”

In reply to how do you feel if you’re in love?: “you feel as though pepper has been sprinkled on your heart, as though tiny fish are swimming in your veins.”

“Royal himself did not have shoes; his golden feet were slender and airy, and the prints they left were like the track of a delicate animal.”

Ottilie is the protagonist. I both like and worry for her. She is young, a prostitute, who runs away with a guy from the mountains like her. And in some ways, I was so pleased that she got away from the brothel-life, but then Royal goes about his business as he did before he married. What does that mean exactly? Does he cheat on her? Or just hang out with the guys till all hours of the night?

Old Bonaparte is evil and that was awesome. The small battle of wills between her and Ottilie was fabulous, and I’m please that Ottilie (view spoiler)

The final scene, the final paragraph is what keeps me in question. What exactly is the future of this couple’s relationship? Two children playing at adulthood without actually having the type of partnership one hopes for?

“A Diamond Guitar” made me nervous. Weird thing to feel in a short story, but I just felt like there was no way Mr. Schaeffer wouldn’t be hurt by Tico. It set me on edge for the whole of the story, and by the end I was sort of right, but not sure how I felt about it all.

“Mr. Schaeffer–…–is a lanky, pulled-out man.”

“in the night his hand sometimes searches it out, and his fingers drift across the strings: then, the world.”

“A Christmas Memory” is equally my favorite from this, along with Breakfast at Tiffany’s. And because of that, I don’t want to share too much of the story. You must read it and be moved just like I was.

Have some tidbits of finely crafted sentences:

“She is small and sprightly, like a bantam hen;”

“Dusk turns the window into a mirror: our reflections mingle with the rising moon as we work by the fireside in the firelight.”

“Lovely dimes, the liveliest coin, the one that really jingles.”

“Is it because my friend is shy with everyone except strangers that these strangers, and merest acquaintances, seem to us our truest friends?”

“she is weeping into a pillow already as wet as a window’s handkerchief.”

“Frozen rime lusters the grass;the sun, round as an orange and orange as hot-weather moons, balances on the horizon, burnishes the silvered winter woods.”

“It’s bad enough in life to do without something you want; but confound it, what gets my goat is not being able to give somebody something you want them to have.”

“As if I expected to see, rather like hearts, a lost pair of kites hurrying toward heaven.”

Oh, and you’ll cry. Even if you have a hard heart, you might feel the prickling of tears anyway.

Rating: **** (out of 5) (subject to change)

© ecnewman, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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