Finished reading The Godfather last night. It wasn’t the satisfying read I had expected, given its reputation, especially because of the film, as an iconic piece of American culture.
The novel itself is a structural mess, leaping back and forth in great chunks of narrative between the present and past of the Coreleone family. It’s also a stylistic mess, not, say at the level of Theodore Dreiser, but the sentences, the narrative as a whole is pretty dry.
There is a story of some interest in this murk–Puzo has an idea somewhere in there about the criminal mind and it’s justification of itself. (Talk about a clunker of a sentence.)
Interestingly enough, according to a Salon article on Puzo, who died in 1999, Puzo wasn’t happy with the novel itself, except that it made him a ton of money:
Figuring he could raise some cash writing a book that collected the many stories he’d heard about organized crime, he dashed off "The Godfather." "I wished like hell I’d written it better," he would later say. "I wrote below my gifts in that book." But the desire to make a quick buck on Mafia sensationalism turned out to be a true devil’s bargain. Read all over the world, the book is regarded as his single achievement, and his regret — how many times must he have rewritten in his mind what he had believed were disposable sentences — must have been keen.