'As for fiction, there can only be one choice - The Godfather' The Times
Mario Puzo was born in Hell's Kitchen on Manhattan's West Side and following military service in World War II, attended New York's New School for Social Research and Columbia University. His best-known novel, The Godfather, was preceded by two critically acclaimed novels published in the early sixties, The Fortunate Pilgrim and The Dark Arena; in 1978 he published Fools Die, in 1984 The Sicilian, and in 1992 The Fourth K. Mario Puzo also wrote ten screenplays, including Superman and Superman II. For both of his screen adaptations of The Godfather he won Academy Awards. He died in 1999 at his home in Long Island.
Puzo's 1969 potboiler and the 1972 Oscar-winning film version caused the popular definition of godfather to change from "surrogate parent" to "criminal leader." Title character Don Vito Corleone is patriarch of the most powerful of the five New York crime families. He takes complete care of his people, who in return obey him implicitly. Although laced with sex, brutal murders, and other crimes and violence, this is far from a pulp novel. Puzo tells a complicated story about the relationships among the Corleones and their interactions with the outside world. VERDICT Actor Joe Mantegna provides a fine reading, even though his version of Vito's voice sometimes sounds like a bad Marlon Brando imitation (although they are so connected, it's probably impossible not to inflect Brando when channeling Vito). Recommended for all those who appreciate thrillers with social commentary and psychological insights. Devotees of the film also will find more character development and plotting.-I. Pour-El, Des Moines Area Community Coll., Boone, IA (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
The deck's stacked against this audio adaptation of the novel that inspired one of the most acclaimed feature films of all time. The powerful visual imagery at the end of Francis Ford Coppola's film adaptation of Puzo's novel-the alternating between a baptism and coordinated hits on rival mob bosses-is so indelible that any other depiction must suffer in comparison. Hearing any narrator read that a character "put three bullets" in another's chest just can't hold a candle to seeing it, at least as Coppola filmed the scene. Ditto for the shocker when a certain animal head turns up in a certain character's bed. However, that's not to say that narrator Joe Mantegna's reading is at fault. Turning in compelling and nuanced performance, Mantegna's gravelly-voiced Don Corleone is close enough to Marlon Brando's not to jar, and the narrator (who appeared in The Godfather: Part III) also pulls off female voices effectively. More notably, despite his decades of voicing a parodistic mobster on The Simpsons, Mantegna's use of different accents and modes of speech insures that his characterizations never come across as stereotypical. A Signet paperback. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"'As for fiction, there can only be one choice - The Godfather'" * The Times * "The Godfather, one of the most entertaining and absorbing popular novels of the postwar period... Puzo's masterpiece" * Robert McCrum in the Observer *