Thursday, October 21, 2010

"Well, Is she or isn't she?"

You know what that’s from don’t you? It's from Breakfast At Tiffany’s -- Holly Golightly’s manager asks this of Paul Varjak and Paul’s response? “A phony . . . I don’t think so, do you?”

Breakfast At Tiffany’s changed my life when I first saw it. I was nineteen and home on Christmas break from college. I couldn’t sleep, so I went down to the old TV room in my grandparents’ house and turned on the set. They still had a black and white TV and it was 1985. And I bumbled into the opening scene of a film that I had never seen before. I was well-read, and I already loved movies, but I had never seen anything like this movie before. The story was vibrant, and the people were complex, and though it was 24 years old at the time, it was as contemporary a movie as I had ever seen. I had been given Capote’s In Cold Blood to read in the 9th grade -- and it terrified me, I wouldn’t have finished it if it wasn’t assigned homework. I was so frightened by it, that I avoided anything by Capote thereafter, until, Breakfast At Tiffany’s came into my life. It was because of Capote that I found the period of writing and writers that I wanted to spend the most time with. The mid-twentieth century, The New Yorker crew; E.B. White, John Updike, John Cheever, and this branched out to Nabakov. I had a good foundation of Hemingway and Fitzgerald, but I needed these modern suburban writers to finish the job for me, with a little Beat Generation and Expat lit from the likes of Paul Bowles . . . my mother said of Bowles upon finding out how much I enjoyed his stories, “He’s a bit decadent isn’t he?” and I think she meant Gay by that, but I decided to only reply by saying, “Yes, very decadent indeed.”

And so lately, I’ve been feeling all afloat, I’ve been trying to ground myself in what I want to accomplish with all this, where is my creative fountainhead? Its with movies like Breakfast At Tiffany’s and Sweet Smell of Success and On The Waterfront and the stories of Cheever and Updike . . .  I need to revisit this foundation again, and build confidence in my direction again, and not be concerned with the fact that my Voice is born of something just slightly older than me. Who knows, maybe Old will become New again.

Well, am I or aren’t I? A phony? I hope not . . .

1 comment:

T.S. Dogfish said...

So many of us are beholden to the influences that sparked us in years gone by - that good old stuff.