February’s Book: Breakfast at Tiffany’s

The book's cover

I was browsing through Gramedia’s bookshelf thinking of what kind of book I want to read this month when my eyes caught Breakfast at Tiffany’s, a classic novel from Truman Capote. To my embarrassment that I have to admit here – I just knew that Capote is the one who wrote Breakfast at Tiffany’s with its very famous character Holly Golightly. I’ve seen Breakfast at Tiffany’s the movie long long time ago, when I was a kid. I remember the very beautiful Audrey Hepburn playing a character of a very cheerful girl. Of course, as a kid I don’t really remember how I feel about the movie. Anyway, I recognize Capote from a movie too with title – humor me – Capote! Hahaha… It’s hard to forget such movie where Phillip Seymour Hoffman play the main character brilliantly, Capote who’s trying to write about the murder of a family, in book title In Cold Blood. And that’s how I picture Capote ever since,  a gay from high-society class with a great sense of humor and always the heart of a party. Anyway, back to Gramedia book store, so I reached out the novel and decided, classic it is for this month! Glad I did it.

I chose to read the Indonesian translations instead, for a particular reason; I just want to know how it’ll be and how I feel about the translation, plus enrich my bahasa verbs, even the translation is worng. I’m sorry Serambi, your translation is sort of erroneous, but it’s explicable since many of the terms Capote used are American’s expressions that need a cultural background to understand it, for example what “Mean reds” it’s a saying a state of anxiety that is worse than just fear. But in Indonesia language, it’s kinda hard to translate it except to a literal red that will definitely confused you. And that’s how I ended up searching in internet for the English version and found the English summary that helped me understand more the novel.

CAPOTE, Truman. Breakfast at Tiffany’s. New York: Random House, 1958. Octavo, original cloth, original dustjacket.

However , I’m not going to give an in-depth review about  this classic novel, I’m nowhere close to a literature or linguistic expert. I just want to give an honest statement of how I feel as I flipped page to page of Breakfast at Tiffany’s on my bed. The story started with a narration of a man who once a friend of the main character, Miss Holly Golightly. He hasn’t met Holly for about 15 years and suddenly there was news about her and the narrator reminded of how he first met Holly and their story.

Audrey Hepburn as Holly Golightly

Audrey Hepburn as Holly Golightly

As Asian of course Holly is not kind of a role model character as she’s so materialistic and “half” prostitute which Capote described ironic enough, make us sort of feel sympathy yet confuse by her free spirit and outspoken persona. But as my mind keeps picturing the elegant Audrey Hepburn as Holly, I can’t make myself dislike Holly in the Novel. Be that as it may, Capote’s skill in writing something dramatic and irony captivated me and succeed in making me stop to have an intense thinking at some chapters. Holly’s goal in life is written plainly and simple in the novel: to find a home, where she can belong, just like Tiffany’s. It’s about a girl with a very sad childhood who dreams to make it in this big world – in New York for specific – by justifying all effort. Capote described her as an odd mixture of childlike innocence and street smart sexuality, confused yet determined, and she know very well what she want. But I pity her, I pity her deeply, as I also pity the narrator who so in love with Holly but will never ever be with her.

Holly singing Moon River. Song that gave Breakfast at Tiffany's one Oscar

In fact, I pity all the character because their life were so evolving around her in the end, and she’s gone, and they’re still obsessing about her. the old Joe Bell – bar owner – who also have a never-end infatuation with Holly, O.J Berman, her former talent agent that Holly’s bail out from, the sad baby look multimillionaire Rusty Trawler, the on-off friend Mag Wildwood who married Rusty because of Holly too, Jose Yberra-Jaeger (I loooovee the name) who Mag’s ex then became Holly’s boyfriend which she falling in love too but  then left her in jail back to Brazil. Oh the last, Doc Golightly, Holly’s husband who obssed to her the most, and dream of taking her back to the farm. They’re all sad characters.

Some words are so vivid that it straightly embedded in my mind, like Holy’s philosophy on love: never love a wild thing!  It also conclude all for once Holly’s view about herself. “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 the sky. … If you let yourself love a wild thing, you’ll just end up looking at the sky.” Other thing is Holly unfaltering effort to deny the idea that she’s a hostess such as by saying: “I mean you can’t bang a guy and cash his check and at least not try to believe you love him”.

I just realized that different from the movie, Breakfast at Tiffany’s is actually not a happy ending story – at least not from my personal feeling about the whole story. The unhappy story, closed by Holly’s journey that found no end yet, in fact she’s involved with a married man, and the remembrance of her by the narrator that still single even thou he haven’t see Holly for 15 years. Whatsoever, my adoration is to Capote’s assiduous effort to describe in detail each scene and character’s dialogues. No wonder Breakfast at Tiffany’s is one of the most influential works for Pop Culture. If such a – supposedly – light topic like Breakfast at Tiffany’s can be so deep and “disturbing”, I don’t know whether I have the heart to read In Cold Blood. O well, thanks Capote! Now, I’m searching for the movie and looking forward to see it again.

The famous 1st scene of Holly eating croissant for breakfast in front of Tiffany's store

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4 thoughts on “February’s Book: Breakfast at Tiffany’s

  1. Hi , Lolo
    A very good summary of the book; now you have motivated me to check this book out at my local library.
    Audrey Hepburn is one of my favorite actresses to watch on Turner Classics Movies on the cable channels where I live. When I watch her, I wish she were alive today, such a wonderful actress.

  2. Gracie,
    Thank you… 🙂 yes, the book is good, Capote is good… 🙂 I’m looking forward to read In Cold Blood, but I still got few new books I try to finish 🙂

    Yes, Audrey Hepburn is wonderful… I wish i can collect her movies… please advice which one I need to see soon 🙂

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