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text 2018-11-09 15:53
Got Gusticed for 7/10
The Family - Mario Puzo,Carol Gino

I can’t blame you for singing “we are family, I got all my sisters with me…”now. As a matter of fact, I’m doing it too. BUT, oh boy, once you read this one you won’t be singing it so carelessly anymore. Guaranteed.


Let me take you back to the Italy of greatest minds in the history. We shall meet with Michelangelo, Machiavelli and many many more and it’s hard to argue, that this was somewhat of an intellectual climax of our good planet so far. What is even harder to debate, though, is that when it comes to dirty minds, we will have to time-travel a trifle more to Sodomy to find some competition and I know way too little about that one to do that.


Puzo knew about it certainly less than he learned about the era of, who he deemed to be the predecessor of all the dons, Pope Alexander VI (Borgia).


Let me tell you, this book can get really nasty and Puzo does it in his very own way, where he describes even the worst possible acts with such a tenderness that at times you feel like “ah ok, it’s some bad shit they did, but they are not the worst people ever…I mean, they were just too weak to fight their desires, aren’t we all victim of the same sin from time to time too?”. (And you naively jerk your head from side to side)


Well, you certainly remember yourself heading to the nearest mobsters recruiting center after reading The Godfather. Feats, these grand people of God do, are way worse, so you might not end up being excited as much as you were back then, but you will still have some hard times to condemn them. (I shall help you with that a bit later when reviewing Erasmus’s Praise of Folly, but shhh about that one for now…)


Puzo would have an automatic 8, but this book was finished by somebody else (for obvious and not very jolly reason) and although he’s not bad, he’s no Puzo.


I guess you won’t be too surprised by the corruption of the Catholic Church in its heyday, but this one really is a tough one to swallow. Again, that relentless romantic in Puzo makes it somewhat better. In fact, he makes it a rather philosophical riddle, as it could be deemed as just yet another display of people not being good or evil, but both good AND evil…


Favourite line:


“Pope Alexander smiled. He seemed more amused with the story than horrified. “The Baglioni are true believers,” he said. “They believe in paradise. Such a great gift. How otherwise can man bear this moral life? Unfortunately, such a belief also gives evil men the courage to commit great crimes in the name of good and God.” 





Source: somethingreallyeasytospell.com/portfolio/mario-puzo-the-family
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review 2017-06-01 23:31
The Godfather
The Godfather - Mario Puzo

Don Corleone put his hand on the man’s shoulder. “Good,” he said, “you shall have your justice. Some day, and that day may never come, I will call upon you to do me a service in return.

A classic among the modern classics, which I had woefully ignored, I barely even remember watching the film. Clearly, the whole Godfather cult had passed me by.


That is, until the stars aligned and I had a new interest in all things Sicilian and Troy proposed The Godfather as a buddy read. It was an additional omen when I landed on a BL-Opoly square that fitted the book, too.


Well, the good thing about the book was that it was fast paced and made for utterly compelling reading - from beginning to end. There were a few parts that were less interesting to me such as the whole Johnny Fontane (i.e. Frank Sinatra) side story or the sudden shift from fast paced action tale into flashbacks of Don Vito Corleone's early days. These parts fleshed out the book and gave a little more complexity to the story, but they also slowed down the book for me. Without them, I am sure I would not have set the book down. I even once debated whether it was worth getting up from my "reading chair" to get a cup of coffee!


The more I got into the story, tho, the more problematic reading the book became.


All of the main characters, without exception, are despicable human beings, and I repeatedly wanted to punch them. Hard. I guess it was just lucky that part of the story was about how they would try to kill each other in some phony attempt at revenge for some or other character not being "respectful" enough. The whole idea of honour and respect was just warped to the extreme. Of course, as the whole community existed and worked outside of society, it was free to define terms like "honour" and "respect" along with other concepts and rules for itself, but this also worked to question those concepts and how they applied to any society. 


In that respect, Puzo's book is rather fascinating, too, and I have to say that this was probably the most surprising aspect of the read. I went into the book expecting horrible people doing horrible deeds, but I did not expect to marvel about Puzo creating this hook that would draw me into an alternate reality that may or may not exist (or have existed) for real. And the potential realism is as daunting as it is depressing.

The ruthlessness, the sheer disregard for any values, implied a man who considered himself completely his own law, even his own God.

The only aspect that was more depressing than the unsettling realism was the marginalisation of outsiders in the setup of this alternate society, whether they are non-Sicilians, or women, or any other group. For the most part even, these outsiders accepted their role as valueless disposables. Even characters that had a choice to leave somehow willingly submitted into this web of oppression, which resulted in one of the worst proposals of marriage:

You’ll be my wife but you won’t be my partner in life, as I think they say. Not an equal partner. That can’t be.

I really wanted to poke these characters in the eye. Repeatedly. But by the same token, I have to say that watching these lives unravel is part of what makes this book such a gripping read. It's just that I also had to think of the status of the story as one of the cult classics that has been adored for its imagery , much like Fleming's famous creation. And as with James Bond, there is only one thing that I am taking away from The Godfather: We need new icons.

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text 2017-05-30 11:49
Reading progress update: I've read 80%.
The Godfather - Mario Puzo

I enjoyed the beginning, I fought through the middle, and now I just need this to end.


This has definitely lost a lot of steam...


(Also, we're now firmly back in the kind of sick-bucket territory where even Fleming's Bond looks like an enlightened human being.)


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text 2017-05-29 10:57
Reading progress update: I've read 58%.
The Godfather - Mario Puzo

This story has slowed right down since the main plot turn. The last quarter of the book has been a lot of backstory and sideline explanation, which has made the story drag a lot.


I hope this picks up again soon. At the moment, it just feels like nothing is happening because no one is allowed to act in this web of intrigue...which is quite a good description of the whole setup but does not make for interesting reading.

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text 2017-05-24 23:32
Reading progress update: I've read 8%.
The Godfather - Mario Puzo

Dang, I have to get up in 6 hours, because of an early call with the other side of the world, but I don't want to put down this book. 

For all its overblown machismo, it is rather gripping.
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