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The Godfather Returnsby Mark Winegardner
Synopses & Reviews
Thirty-five years ago, Mario Puzo's great American tale, The Godfather, was published, and popular culture was indelibly changed. Now, in The Godfather Returns, acclaimed novelist Mark Winegardner continues the story — the years not covered in Puzo's bestselling book or in Francis Ford Coppola's classic films.
It is 1955. Michael Corleone has won a bloody victory in the war among New York's crime families. Now he wants to consolidate his power, save his marriage, and take his family into legitimate businesses. To do so, he must confront his most dangerous adversary yet, Nick Geraci, a former boxer who worked his way through law school as a Corleone street enforcer, and who is every bit as deadly and cunning as Michael. Their personal cold war will run from 1955 to 1962, exerting immense influence on the lives of America's most powerful criminals and their loved ones, including:
"When Random announced that Winegardner, best known for the critically acclaimed mainstream saga Crooked River Burning and baseball novel The Veracruz Blues, had been hired to write a fresh Godfather novel, eyebrows arched from coast to coast. But the decision was right: this is a phenomenally entertaining, psychologically rich saga that spans the entire Godfather years imagined in novel and film by Mario Puzo (the latter via his screenplays), filling in the blanks, fleshing out the characters, focusing primarily on the time (mid 1950s-early '60s) between when Puzo's landmark novel ended and the film Godfather II begins.Few remember that Puzo began his career as a commercially failed but critically celebrated literary novelist. He wrote The Godfather with the aim of hitting bestseller lists, but his earlier training showed in that novel's reach and complexity. Just so, Winegardner brings enormous talent to bear on this popular story and its immense cast of characters, deepening Puzo's work at nearly every step. Fredo Corleone, hapless Mafia scion, emerges here as a more central, vigorous and conflicted character than in The Godfather or even the films, as do Tom Hagen (the Corleones' adopted son and erstwhile consigliere) and Johnny Fontane, Puzo's dig at Frank Sinatra. There are many new and newly fleshed out characters as well, from assorted Mob bosses (most notably Chicago's Don Louie Russo, aka Fuckface, spiritual descendant of Al Capone, and Nick Geraci, a Corleone man destined to become the Corleones' arch-enemy) to various Corleones (most notably the slain Sonny Corleone's twin daughters). There are also sharply drawn cameos of, among others and by other names, JFK, RFK and, fleetingly, Andy Warhol. But at the center of the mesmerizing, sometimes dizzying Mob conspiracies and familial tensions is, of course, the Godfather, Michael Corleone — proper heir to Vito Corleone, the last capo di tutti capi: devious, brilliant, astonishing ruthless.The book isn't perfect — just nearly so. The enormity of Winegardner's reimagining of Puzo's epic can obscure the novel's overarching story line — Michael's attempt to legitimize the Corleones' businesses — and leads at times to an episodic feel. These, however, are quibbles in the face of a wholly absorbing novel that's written beautifully, with great skill and passion. Godfather fans will love this tale; Puzo himself must be raising a celestial glass and shouting a hearty 'Salut'! Let it be known that Winegardner, for his respect to the novel's antecedents and for his accomplishment, shall henceforth be known as a Man of Honor." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"The Godfather Returns...lacks [the] movies' amazing resonance and the original book's pulpy energy, but as these sorts of follow-ups go, it's a solid enough performance: dutiful, suspenseful and only occasionally annoying." Michiko Katutani, The New York Times
"[A] thoroughly professional job. Winegardner's prose marches assuredly to Puzo's rhythms, and he deftly and imaginatively ties up whatever threads were left dangling." San Diego Union-Tribune
"The Godfather Returns is essentially a long, sleazy tabloid story in which the accumulation of detail does not add up to a vision." Newsday
Winegardner — whose proposal for this novel was chosen in an international competition — brings new artistry and vision to Mario Puzo's mythic characters.
About the Author
Mark Winegardner received a master of fine arts degree in fiction writing from George Mason University and published his first book at age twenty-six, while still in graduate school. His books have been chosen as among the best of the year by The New York Times Book Review, Chicago Sun-Times, Los Angeles Times, USA Today, and the New York Public Library. His work has appeared in various publications including GQ, Playboy, Family Circle, American Short Fiction, Ladies? Home Journal, Parents, and The New York Times Magazine. Several of his stories have been chosen as Distinguished Stories of the Year in The Best American Short Stories. He has also served as a board member of the Associated Writing Programs. He is now a professor and director of the creative writing program at Florida State University in Tallahassee, Florida.
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