Just finished reading The Godfather and it gave me a lot to think about. It was an epic book and I enjoyed it. I can see why it’s a classic.
On the flip side of that, I, unfortunately, thought the movies were much better. So if your on the line about what to do: read the book or watch the movies, I would just watch the movies, they are done better.
The Good stuff: The Godfather is truly an iconic book. It brings you to the heart of gangsters of the 1940s. The book is gritty and graphic and doesn’t hold back on sexism or racism of its time. I liked getting to understand the underworld of the Corleone family and how it got its start and the individuals in the family. Even if part of the family tried to stay out of the family business it sucked them in anyway. I felt like no character was all bad or all good, “It’s just business.” This book has so many quoteables, some of which I didn’t even realize came from this book, most of which are in the movies.
A difference between the books and movies: Once difference I noticed in the books and movies where that some of the characters came across differently. For example, in the book, I really liked Sonny and was sad about what ended up happening to him. He was a dynamic character with flaws, but he seemed more real to me than any of the other characters.
In the movie my favorite character was Michael. He was cool and collected but didn’t want anything to do with the family business, until he was forced into it. In the book, it starts off like this, but his call to arms for the family comes without much hesitation. In the book, he is kind of boring and too much like his dad. It’s like a story with two different characters, but they are exactly the same.
One thing that makes the movies so much better than the books is the cutting of unnecessary plot and characters. I could have done without ever meeting Johnny or Lucy and been better off never learning of their characters. I’m not really sure why they are there at all. They bring absolutely nothing to the table at all.
The unfortunate: The main thing that got on my nerves reading this book, also why I’m giving it 4 stars instead of 5 is the writing. I’m not sure if the editors of this book just thought it wasn’t going to do well, so hardly made any changes, or editors back then just didn’t do as good of a job as editors now? Whatever the cause, the book has very weak prose. I constantly saw b for h mixed up in multiple words and other similar mix-ups. And the way Puzo writes just drove me a little crazy. He would explain something, then he would show it happen, and just to make sure you didn’t miss anything give you a rundown of what happened a few pages later. Sometimes I wonder if he even read his manuscript more than once before turning in to the editor. And this happens throughout the book. I’m thinking maybe the rules of writing weren’t around back then or maybe he just didn’t bother to look them up, but there is so much info dumping going on at every stage of this book.
When we finally meet the other 5 families we get an info dump for each one in case you really needed to know all their backstories of how they came to power and what their main bracket of power they hold (drugs, politicians, police, gambling, or prostitutes.)
Also, this book is pretty much all show an no tell. I didn’t really realize how much this bothered me until I read this book.
I still recommend this book and enjoyed it despite the writing.