5 of 52 finished 19 February
Most of the novellas I’ve read so far this year have asked for a heavy dose of removal of ideology. Breakfast at Tiffany’s, like Slaughterhouse 5, like Falconer, was written by an incredibly inspiring writer in terms of the way they arrange words on the page, both to create a story and evoke emotion. But here, with Capote, an oppressive layer of racism hangs over the text. From the first pages of the book, Mr Yunioshi is described as ‘the Jap’ and multiple characters casually drop the n-word into conversations about African or African-American people. Even having seen the film and knowing this intrinsic horror might be there, it took me ages to get past the first few pages. Written in 1958, apologies really can’t be made for this sort of thing. It’s awful to read.
Holly Golightly is the most dimensional female character I’ve read so far this year, but of course, what that actually says for her, I’m not sure. Her hair, skin, and clothes are described a lot. She is a mystery the reader knows only through narration from an introverted male gaze. How much we’re expected to believe from this lens, I don’t know. I didn’t believe very much of what they said about her – particularly, Truman Capote.
The most genuine, loving, and fraught relationship is between Holly and her cat, and this is Breakfast at Tiffany’s redeeming quality. I honestly don’t give two shits that Joe Bell feels sad about Holly leaving, that the narrator sliced his toes to ribbons trying to chase after her. Jose Ybarra-Jaegar is a dick and so is Rusty Trawler and probably even Doc Golightly, too, you know, for being a child rapist.
Capote knows how to talk about animals.
‘Never love a wild thing, Mr Bell,’ Holly advised him. ‘That was Doc’s mistake. He was always lugging home wild things. A hawk with a hurt wing. One time it was a full-grown bobcat with a broken leg. But you can’t give your heart to a wild thing: the more you do, the stronger they get. Until they’re strong enough to run into the woods. Or fly into a tree. Then a taller tree. Then the sky. That’s how you’ll end up, Mr Bell. If you let yourself love a wild thing. You’ll end up looking at the sky.’
Holly stepped out of the car; she took the cat with her. Cradling him, she scratched his head and asked, ‘What do you think? This ought to be the right kind of place for a tough guy like you. Garbage cans. Rats galore. Plenty of cat-bums to gang around with. So scram,’ she said, dropping him; and when he did not move away, instead raised his thug-face and questioned her with yellowish pirate-eyes, she stamped her foot: ‘I said beat it!’ He rubbed against her leg. ‘I said f—- off!’ she shouted, then jumped back into the car, slammed the door, and: ‘Go,’ she told the driver. ‘Go. Go.’
If you can read to the end of the book without crying you hate cats and I hate you.
Rating system might die out soon at this rate, haha, get it:
General gross Capote-ness 3/10