Holly Golightly: What do you do, anyway?
Paul Varjak: I’m a writer, I guess.
Holly Golightly: You guess? Don’t you know?
Paul Varjak: OK, positive statement. Ringing affirmative. I’m a writer.
Paul Varjak: They’re not the kind of stories you can really tell.
Holly Golightly: Too dirty?
Paul Varjak: Yeah, I suppose they’re dirty, too, but only incidentally. Mainly they’re angry, sensitive, intensely felt, and that dirtiest of all dirty words – promising. Or so said The Times Book Review, October 1, 1956.
TAVI: Many of your characters are kind of pathetic and lonely, but somehow your observations seem more compassionate than condescending. Are you concerned at all with making sure you’re not making fun of them, or does it just end up that way? Do you think you’ve ever made fun?
DANIEL CLOWES: I try not to worry about that too much, but I try to make fun of myself more than I would make fun of anybody else. I try to hold myself to the same amount of scrutiny that I would any of my characters, so I would hope anything I do never comes across like I’m trying to show myself as being better than my characters or making a point about how people shouldn’t live this way or anything like that.
Do you find it comforting or terrifying that people can relate to characters that are closer to you?
It is comforting. In a way that’s the whole idea, I think: to try to get across things that I feel are so personal that they actually can’t be put into words, trying to create characters that will express these feelings that I can’t quite articulate, and to have people actually respond to those things in an emotional way. That kind of connection with other people, I think—that’s what you can hope for when you’re doing this kind of stuff.
“Writers talk a lot about how tough they have it – what with the excessive drinking and three hour workday and philandering and constant borrowing of money from people they’re so much better than. But what about the people married to writers? Their kids? Their friends? Their labradoodles? What happens to them? I’ll tell you what happens to them. They go fuqing nuts.”
“Tolstoy’s wife, Sophia, after copying War and Peace – 1,225 pages – by hand seven times and having thirteen children by him, is rumored to have poisoned him in his eighty-second year.”
Holly Golightly: You know those days when you get the mean reds? Paul Varjak: The mean reds, you mean like the blues? Holly Golightly: No. The blues are because you’re getting fat and maybe it’s been raining too long, you’re just sad that’s all. The mean reds are horrible. Suddenly you’re afraid and you don’t know what you’re afraid of. Do you ever get that feeling? Paul Varjak: Sure. Holly Golightly: Well, when I get it the only thing that does any good is to jump in a cab and go to Tiffany’s. Calms me down right away. The quietness and the proud look of it; nothing very bad could happen to you there. If I could find a real-life place that’d make me feel like Tiffany’s, then – then I’d buy some furniture and give the cat a name!