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"Truman Capote I do not know well, but I like him. He is tart as a grand aunt, but in his way is a ballsy little guy, and he is the most perfect writer of my generation, he writes the best sentences word for word, rhythm upon rhythm. I would not have changed two words in Breakfast at Tiffany’s which will become a small classic."
-Norman Mailer

Truman Capote was already a celebrity by the time Breakfast at Tiffany’s was released in 1958. It was written at the end of what he called his second cycle of writing which began with his first published novel, Other Voices, Other Rooms. Although it was never assumed by the critics at the time, Breakfast at Tiffany’s was to become one of the most famous and influential works Capote ever wrote. I would put it second only to his non-fiction novel, In Cold Blood which emerged in his third cycle.

Like Capote’s other works, including Other Voices, Other Rooms, Breakfast at Tiffany’s received mixed reviews. Some writers called it "slight" or not living up to Capote’s earlier work such as The Grass Harp. William Goyan, writing for the New York Times titled his review "That Old Valentine Maker" calling Capote that last of an old generation of romantic "Valentine-like" writers giving the book his "unmistakable touch." I found most reviews to be somewhat consistent, they thought the book was funny but unrealistic or well-crafted yet faulty.

I personally found Breakfast at Tiffany’s to be a beautifully written, excellently executed novel that not only touched me but will forever. It is a short book that can easily be read in one sitting, but then to reflect upon it: it’s motifs, inspirations, characters, and suggestions can take much longer. To read my full length analysis click here.

Capote had a difficult time coming up with an ending to the novel and it took him longer than he expected to finish it. But Capote finally did it in the spring of 1958 and although he already had a deal with Random House for it to come out as a book, he also signed a deal with Harper’s Bazaar entitling them to publish it in the summer before the book came out. But unfortuately the Hearst Corporation seemed determined on editorial integrity and tried to get Capote to omit his use of four-letter words and the way that Holly made her living. Capote was of course outraged and refused to change a word, thus a Hearst executive cut Breakfast at Tiffany’s and as Capote’s biographer Gerald Clarke said, "Without much ado, Harper’s Bazaar had ended its long and distinguised history of printing quality fiction."

Capote later in life said that Holly Golightly was his favorite character. In an early version of the book her gave her the inappropriate name of Connie Gustafson, but later gave her the more symbolic name Holly Golightly: for she is a woman who makes a holiday of life, but treads through it lightly. Along with the book’s publishing came what Capote called the Holly Golightly Sweepstakes, where half the women he knew and some he did not, claimed to be the inspiration for his character. One New York resisdent, named Bonnie Golightly, even tried to sue Capote for invasion of privacy and libel. But she was an overweight forty-year-old woman and lost the lawsuit without much effect. But in truth the person that Holly most resembles is her creator. She shares Capote’s philosophies as well as his fears and anxieties, an example is Holly’s panic attacks which she calls "the mean reds."


     
  Capote’s first page of the first draft of Breakfast at Tiffany’s which begins:
"I am always drawn back to places where I have lived,
the houses and their neighborhoods."


Source:
Clarke, Gerald. Capote: A Biography. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1988.