Saturday, January 23, 2010
The Godfather - Mario Puzo
I think I may be the only person in the United States between the ages of 25-45 who has not seen the movie "The Godfather." But, I decided to read the book first since it was listed in my book, 1001 Books to Read Before You Die. I'm so glad I did because frankly, this book is AWESOME. It seems impossible that anyone wouldn't know that The Godfather is the story of the organized crime family, the Coreleones - headed up by Vito (the Don), along with his three sons Sonny, Fredo, and Michael. When the Don is shot following the marriage of his only daughter, the leadership and strength of the family comes into question, and the need to figure out who is loyal and who has betrayed whom becomes of paramount importance. At this point, much of my perception of the mafia has been clouded by "The Sopranos," but so much of this book reminded me of Tony and his pals. Figuring out how and when the family's enemies would take action and how and when to respond is a delicate balance of psychology and brute force. There were story lines I could have done without (particularly the Frank Sinatra-like character Johnny Fontane and his adventures in Vegas), but I was fascinated by Michael's transformation from Dartmouth student to scheming insider. The story immediately drew me in, and despite the unsavory nature of the Coreleone family's activites, it's hard not to root for them. On a side note - whenever movies are based on books, I wonder how much work it really takes to write thescreenplay. But when reading this book, I noticed that one of the most famous lines from The Godfather, "Luca Brasi sleeps with the fishes" appears in the book as the less catchy, "The fish means that Luca Brasi is sleeping on the bottom of the ocean," proving to me that sometimes those movie writers really do earn their keep.