Mario Puzo — #100FavouriteAuthors
The Godfather of authors
The first time I read his name was on the credits of the first Superman film.
He was credited with the screenplay. He wrote the screenplay for both Superman 1 & 2. I was a kid back then — it was much later I got to know of his seminal work, The Godfather.
I read the book when I was 14.
Immediately, I was drawn into the world of the Italian Mafia. Believe me, even for a 14-year-old, it was enticing — a world where one man had complete power over others. What the Don did is illegal, of course, but you couldn’t help being mesmerised by his power, by that world.
I immediately went on a Mario Puzo reading spree after that.
I read The Sicilian, the sequel to the Godfather novel (but nothing like the Godfather 2 film). It spoke of Michael Corleone’s days in Sicily, when he was in exile. Then I read Fools Die, a story about 3 strangers who meet in a Las Vegas Casino — and one of them commits suicide after winning a big hand. Then Omerta, which means ‘silence’ in Italian — a code among the mafia to remain silent and not babble to the cops about any of the mafia’s activities. Then The Last Don, and finally, what I consider to be his most interesting work — Six Graves to Munich. He wrote that early on in his career, and was allegedly ‘ashamed’ of it — so much so that he published it under a pseudonym, Mario Cleri. I disagree with Puzo — he shouldn’t be ashamed, because it is a brutal, intriguing tale of revenge. It is set sometime after the Normandy landings, when a soldier, Mike Rogan, is captured and tortured (almost to the point of death) by 7 Gestapo officers. He doesn’t really die though — he comes back to try and take revenge on them all. Sounds like a regular revenge plot, but it’s all about Puzo’s writing style. It’s actually one of my favourite stories of his.
I highly recommend Mario Puzo if you want to be seduced by the Italian mafia. For now, as the Italians would say, ‘buona notte’ (good night).