Saturday, March 26, 2016

'Breakfast at Tiffany's' Revisited: The Three Stories

Here we see the cover of my middle-school paperback copy of Breakfast at Tiffany's by Truman Capote. I bought it circa 1989, probably through Scholastic book order. (Perhaps it would be more proper to say my mom and dad bought it for me; I didn't have a job when I was 12.)

I voluntarily read this book after my English class read "A Christmas Memory." "A Christmas Memory" is one of the three short stories that follow the Breakfast at Tiffany's novella in this volume. The four were published together in the 1957 original. "A Diamond Guitar" originally appeared in Harper's Bazaar, and "A Christmas Memory" was originally printed in Mademoiselle.

I reread the three stories this week after (finally) watching the film Capote, and they were even more brilliant than I remember, especially "A Christmas Memory." It's also much more poignant than I remember. I remembered that the little dog, Queenie, died (I'd hated that part as a child), but I forgot that it ends with the elder relative's slow decline and eventual death. I remembered it largely as a beautiful, happy Christmas story, despite the Depression-era poverty of the characters. It's actually bittersweet.

I loved Greco-Roman myth when I was a child, but I never caught onto the fact that "House of Flowers" was a modernized version of the myth of Cupid and Psyche. I learned from Wikipedia ( that there's a musical version Truman Capote himself helped write; I wish it had caught on better than it did.

I just wish the short story didn't imply that light-skinned Haitian women were universally acknowledged as more beautiful than dark-skinned Haitian women. Dark-skinned Haitian women are as beautiful as any other segment of the female population.

I was also surprised how much the character Tico Feo ("Ugly Tico," apparently meant ironically) foreshadows Capote's later meeting of Perry Smith, one of the multiple murderers covered in Capote's "nonfiction novel" In Cold Blood. A multiracial (indigenous American and white), charming prison inmate who plays the guitar and dreams of escape to an idealized paradise, prone to violent outbursts and conniving? Perry Smith. But this book was published in 1957, and Capote didn't meet Smith until 1960 - eerie.

I'm currently listening to an audiobook recording of In Cold Blood from my local library.

"In Cold Blood without even blinking
I mean damn, what was Capote-pote-pote pote thinking?"

Photos are my own, all taken of my personal copy of Breakfast at Tiffany's.

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