Even though I started a book jar last month, once in while something going on in my life compels me to pick a specific book next. When we were heading to New York a couple of weeks ago, I was inspired to read The Godfather by Mario Puzo, a book I’ve had on my shelves for a long time and fit perfectly with my list for the Eclectic Reader Challenge.
I am stupid in love with the Godfather films. Well, definitely the first two, of course. The third is “meh” for me. But seriously I think I could play the first two in my head entirely by heart. It’s pretty rare that I would have seen the movie before reading the book, so of course while reading I pictured Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, James Caan, etc. as the characters. I didn’t know about the book until much later, well after I had watched the movies.
If you don’t know the story already, here’s the basic version: in 1945, Don Corleone, head of the Corleone Family (one of the Five Families of organized crime in New York), is approached to incorporate drugs into his business because of his connections with judges and politicians, for protection. Don Corleone is old school, believing drugs are too dangerous to deal in, and so declines. His refusal incites violent actions which spark a war between the Families, and Don Corleone’s youngest son, Michael, who always vowed not to be a part of that world, is forced to join his family in the fight.
The films (Parts I and II) are very faithful to the book, of course thanks to Mario Puzo writing the screenplays. (It is really difficult not to compare…!) There are additional scenes in the book (sometimes lengthy) that seemed to not have anything to do with anything at first, but did end up giving depth and backstories to minor characters, if nothing else. Also, the writing style, while solemn and deliberate but still highly descriptive, occasionally became repetitive.
The characters are flawed, which humanizes them and makes them compelling. Their brutal and vengeful actions can be shocking, but everything they do is calculated and explained logically. It’s incredible how Don Corleone is described as being the most convincing person ever. I was convinced! The women in the book are fairly one-dimensional… but it works. They are so in the films, too. Mostly I just loved reading The Godfather because it gives a greater understanding to these beloved characters’ thoughts and feelings. Reading the book made things that happened in the movies connect better in my mind.
Read from April 12 to 28, 2013.