[SS] Two from Truman Capote
May 1, 2010 § 2 Comments
The edition of Breakfast at Tiffany’s that I read and talked about the other day also contained three of Capote’s short stories. One of them was A Christmas Memory, which I had already read and posted about. The novella and the short story were quite different, in terms of style and content, also with how much I resonated with them, so I was admittedly quite curious to see how I would react to the remaining two short stories.
First was House of Flowers. This story, I think, might have been intended to be a love story. Ottilie is a very young girl who lives in a ‘house’ where men come by every night to buy drinks for the ladies who live there. Having only known the worth of things that shine, Ottilie is baffled at the idea of love, and one day goes to ask a Houngan, a man who is in touch with the gods, how she would know if she ever found love. He tells her:
You must catch a wild bee, he said, and hold it in your closed hand… if the bee does not sting, then you will know you have found love.
This is a phrase I’m sure I’ve heard of before somewhere, very much like the phrase from Love Story by Erich Segal, “Love means not ever having to say you’re sorry.”
For me, the story fell a little flat. I didn’t quite like how the story flowed, nor did I like the direction the story took after a while. Maybe it’s because I couldn’t quite connect to Ottilie, which feels like quite a shame, really, considering how much I connected to Holly in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Just not my kind of story, I suppose.
A Diamond Guitar, however, was simply beautiful. I loved the writing, the style, the prose and language, all so well-controlled, yet so expressive. This is a story about a man in prison, one Mr Schaeffer, and the bond he shared with a once fellow-inmate, Tico Feo. For a story about prison and the loneliness it exudes, this story had more than its share of tenderness. The story was calm, gentle, almost soothing.
To be alive was to remember brown rivers where the fish run, and sunlight on a lady’s hair.
This story just took me away with it. Everything felt so subdued; almost like wanting to suppress unnecessary emotions. But it was the quietness that I found so honest and raw. It made what little emotions there were in the story stand out. Overall, just absolutely beautiful.
From what I’ve read of Capote so far, I think it’s safe to say that he doesn’t quite like to indulge in flowery language. There’s an elegant simplicity to his prose that can be quite engaging.