Now the literary snob in me can be appeased because I can say I’ve read Truman Capote. This was my choice for my turn in book club on the advice of my good friend, Jamie, who also is an English teacher and fellow snob. The consensus of my book club was that they liked Capote’s writing but couldn’t stand the main character. What the What? I didn’t get that and the more I think about it the less I get that. I love Holly Golightly. I want to stand back and look at her because she is interesting and different and broken and captivating in her own weird way. Not in a rage to become best friends with a Holly Golightly but I can appreciate her. It’s like my sister Chanel. She and her husband are both successful stylists at a very high-end salon and they both look the part. They are high fashion, (she wore beetle earings to go hiking…3 inches long an inch wide, brass beetles hanging from her ears) inaccessable and distant but beautiful. We get along well but are almost too different to really be good friends. Jamie explained it wonderfully: I love Picasso’s Guernica. I love looking at it, it is moving and poignant and emotional. But I’m not going to hang it in my living room. That’s how I feel about Holly Golightly.
I get now why Truman Capote is one of the great American authors. He is a master of Subtly and Nuance. For the most part pop culture is formulaic and straightforward. Not easy to predict but you just have to find the happy medium between “oh look! shiny and new and different” and “safe, comfortable, known” without going into “new and different and distrubingly weird.” None of that needs or even wants subtly and nuance, but I think those two things are what make a classic. And it takes a great author to even start to do that well. Those two things allow me to make the book/movie/song what I need it to be in my head right now, but in ten years when I experience it again it can be what I need it to be at that time. Does that make sense? A classic grows with you. And that makes a classic timeless and brilliant. In Holly he created a character that speaks to a part of all of us, wether we admit it consciously or not. The part that so desparately wants to name the cat but can’t or won’t. I think most of us figure out a way to name the cat but alot of people never get there and live perpetually with the mean reds. The best part is, Capote asks you to look at this about yourself without telling you what you should do or think about it. Subtly. Nuance. I loved it.