I love short stories. I've read so many novel series, where the same characters travel the same streets doing essentially the same thing, that it seems odd when a writer crafts a rich world and deep characters, only to share them with us for a dozen pages or so.
Truman Capote was a master of short fiction. In this slim collection, he shows us a brothel in Haiti, a prison work camp, a small Southern town, and Holly Golightly's New York City.
"Breakfast at Tiffany's" is the novella anchoring this collection. The film has become so iconic that I wonder if anyone bothers to read the story. It's not uncommon to excise subplots to make films. However, I had to laugh. The "Fred" character isn't a tall, handsome, George Peppard who gets the girl. He's gay. Other characters in the novella disappear completely. It's sad.
In my mind's eye, I naturally pictured Audrey Hepburn as Holly. Capote had lobbied for Marilyn Monroe for Holly.
It is a lovely piece of writing.
The short stories included are "House of Flowers," set in Haiti, the prison camp tale "A Diamond Guitar," and "A Christmas Memory." Each shines in its own light, but "A Christmas Memory" goes supernova. It's largely autobiographical, and redolent with smells and tastes and tactile sensation.
Truman Capote had three careers. He was a story writer first. Then he was, after "In Cold Blood," the most famous writer in the world. His sad third career was a spiralling, alcoholic self-parody who never published another book.
"Breakfast at Tiffany's" et al, shows the preternatural skill that led Norman Mailer to describe him as, "The most perfect writer of my generation."
I highly recommend this collection.
(Note: This edition is from The Modern Library. Kudos to them for this high quality, hardcover, beautifully printed and bound book. It's nice to see a publisher use as much care in production as the author did in creation)