The Godfather by Mario Puzo
I’m not a movie person. It’s hard for me to sit there for 2 hours unless I’m already in a movie theater, and you’d have to first convince me to pay $20 for a nap. Unsurprisingly, I’ve never watched The Godfather, a supposed cultural phenomenon. One advantage that books, particularly ebooks, have over movies is that I can read a book from 1928, and it doesn’t feel old. For movies and TV, standard definition is a hard pass. So I thought that reading The Godfather would be my only way into this famous Mafia world. I’d been very hopeful after reading all the flattering reviews, but boy was I wrong. Notwithstanding the decent plot, this was the most poorly written book I’ve read in years.
1) “‘You found America a paradise. You had a good trade, you made a good living, you thought the world a harmless place where you could take your pleasure as you willed. You never armed yourself with true friends.'” – the Don
Growing up in Boston, it’s weird to think of Italians as immigrants.
2) “‘Friendship is everything. Friendship is more than talent. It is more than government. It is almost the equal of family. Never forget that. If you had built up a wall of friendships, you wouldn’t have to ask me to help.’” – the Don
It’s whom you know, not what you know.
3) “‘A lawyer with his briefcase can steal more than a hundred men with guns.'” – the Don
Every once in a while, I have fleeting thoughts that it’d be cool to be a lawyer. Fleeting thoughts.
4) “Counting the driver, there were four men in the car with Hagen.”
This first line of chapter 3 is when I started getting worried about finishing the book.
5) “This man got along too well with the black people, which hinted at some flaw of character.”
History moves fast.
6) “It was done in a matter of moments, very quickly and very efficiently.”
Unclear “it”. Passive voice. Redundancy. Sounds vaguely Trumpian.
7) “‘It’s all personal, every bit of business. Every piece of shit every man has to eat every day of his life is personal.'” – Michael
I’m in the camp that everything is subjective.
8) “He claimed that there was no greater natural advantage in life than having an enemy overestimate your faults, unless it was to have a friend underestimate your virtues.”
The Don’s life advice hard carries this book.
9) “‘I want them to grow up to be All-American kids, real All-American, the whole works. Maybe they or their grandchildren will go into politics.'” – Michael
I’ve honestly never understood what All-American meant.
10) “‘You cannot say “no” to the people you love, not often. That’s the secret.'” – the Don
When in doubt, say yes.
I made it through the book, but it was rough. Goodreads ratings have high precision, but this is one of the rare false positives. Sometimes I wonder if classics and seminal works disappoint because others have emulated them, and the original is no longer that special without the context. That said, The Godfather was truly poorly written, and I might have done better falling asleep during the movie.