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The Godfather Returns Hardcover


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Random House; First Edition edition (November 16, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400061016
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400061013
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.4 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 2.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (159 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #120,225 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. 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.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Bookmarks Magazine

It’s a tough act to follow, but somebody had to do it. Writing The Godfather is a job worthy of "Don" Vito Corleone himself, yet the task fell to novelist Winegardner, head of the creative writing program at Florida State University. Critics rarely know what to make of a new author taking over a classic work, and The Godfather Returns is no different. Some call this sequel brilliant, and praise Winegardner’s conscientious research, plot clarification, compelling new characters (like Francesca, one of Sonny’s twin daughters), and "panoramic and cinematic" writing (Minneapolis Star Tribune). Other critics argue that no author, Puzo or anyone else, can capture Al Pacino’s inner expression—this may be a case where the movie will forever trump the novel. Some even call the sequel bland, visionless, and undramatic. Since it’s the Corleones, expect the usual pulp thrills.

Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc.


More About the Author

Mark Winegardner was born and raised in Bryan, Ohio, near Exit 2, a town of 8,000 which supplies the world with its Dum-Dum suckers and Etch-a-Sketches. His parents owned an RV dealership there, and every summer he traveled with his family across the USA in various travel trailers and motorhomes. By the time he was 15, he had been in all 48 contiguous states. He graduated Phi Beta Kappa and magna cum laude from Miami University and went on to receive a master of fine arts degree in fiction writing from George Mason University. He published his first book at age 26, while still in graduate school. He has taught at Miami, George Mason, George Washington, and John Carroll Universities, and is now a professor in the creative writing program at Florida State University in Tallahassee, Florida.

Winegardner has won grants, fellowships and residencies from the Ohio Arts Council, the Lilly Endowment, the Ragdale Foundation, the Sewanee Writers Conference and the Corporation of Yaddo. 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, the New York Public Library, and USA Today. His work has appeared in GQ, Playboy, Ploughshares, TriQuarterly, DoubleTake, Family Circle, The Sporting News, Witness, Story Quarterly, 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.

Customer Reviews

This book did nothing to move the story along.
C. Stratton
Most offensive there are a number of discrepencies between Winegardner's book and Mario Puzo's and the movies.
Benjamin M. Miller
The writing is of abysmal quality, the story line is too confusing, the characters are completely destroyed.
BookGeek

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

61 of 70 people found the following review helpful By Brian in LA on December 30, 2004
Format: Hardcover
After having been first excited and then disappointed by Godfather III, I approached this book with what I thought was a healthy dose of skepticism. The dose was not healthy enough.

By page 7, Winegardner has already stolen from Goodfellas when describing how Ace Geraci (Winegardner's creation) took over legitimate businesses and used them to have deliveries "stream through the front door and go straight out the back." And then when the bills came to the business, Geraci torches the business. This is almost exactly what happened to the bar in which Henry Hill and his cohorts took an interest.

I should have stopped reading then, but I didn't.

As some other reviewers have written, the "explanation" of Fredo is simply absurd. Had Winegardner ever read The Godfather or seen any of the movies? Nothing in any of the previous works even hints at Fredo being gay or dabbling in acting. Also with "the new and improved" Fredo, we find yet another bit of pilfering from a Scorsese/Pileggi collaboration. Winegardner has Fredo host his own television show from the Corleone's casino in Las Vegas. Didn't we already see that with Ace Rothstein in Casino? Lastly re Fredo, what's the big deal with the cemetery scheme? This is the big explanation as to why he betrayed Michael? Please.

And speaking of "please," Congressman Tom Hagen? Why? Again, why? Where on earth did this come from? Wouldn't someone have made a passing remark about this in either of the last two films? Why put this in? It makes zero sense.

Winegardner also wields his pen to bring the dead back to life, and for what reason, I cannot understand. At the end of The Godfather, Michael clearly has eliminated the other heads of the Five Families. These would include Cuneo and Stracci.
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40 of 50 people found the following review helpful By Benjamin M. Miller on January 4, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I would give this less than one star if I could.

I was torn when I first saw this book. On the one hand, Mario Puzo wrote a master piece and another author should not just ride his coat tails. But I saw that Winegardner had written a number of other books, and figured he handled this task with the necessary class and research to write the book properly.

Unfortunately I was wrong.

A minor detail, in his acknowledgments he does not even acknowledge Puzo. Also, I found myself wondering when I was on page 300, where was this going. The author had not really developed a new story of any kind. He seemed to be obsessed with sex, and added it to the story when it did not have to be there. Fredo for some reason has become gay, even though his affection for waitresses is well known from the first movie.

Most offensive there are a number of discrepencies between Winegardner's book and Mario Puzo's and the movies. All are minor but in writing such a book, the author should know the movies and the book inside and out. Winegardner did not.

I will admit that I did not finish reading the book. Around page 330 or so, I threw the book across the room in disgust. Winegardner had decided to write that Kay really did not have an abortion, that it was a miscarriage. This was the last straw for me. Winegardner decided to take one of the most powerful scenes from the movie and change it. I could not accept this and had finally had enough.

This is a lazy effort by Winegardner. He throws in a lot of new names and adds plots with Cleveland, Chicago, LA, but never really lets us know any of these new characters or plots. He throws in a lot of lines from the movies, and it is always akward.
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31 of 41 people found the following review helpful By Ed Uyeshima HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 17, 2004
Format: Hardcover
The daunting task of writing a sequel to Mario Puzo's classic "The Godfather" rests squarely on the shoulders of a writer who won a contest run by Random House, the book's publisher. From this unpromising true-life scenario comes a novel that is well crafted and only marginally disappointing when it comes to its built-in expectations. A writer, even one as obviously talented as Mark Winegardner, unfortunately starts in a creative deficit when his one overriding responsibility amounts to not only supplementing but expanding upon as singular a vision as Puzo's original telling of the Corleone family saga. These characters are so ingrained in the American consciousness that Winegardner's immediate priority is to deal with the burden of remaining faithful to a classic. In a way that highlights the selectiveness of our collective memory, "The Godfather" invented the Mafia, endowing it with a mandolin-strumming legend and pinkie ring-kissing ritual even the actual Mafia didn't know was there.

The story picks up the Corleone story in 1955 right after Michael has proven his mettle among New York's most powerful crime families, and now he wants to claim legitimacy for his family business. So obsessed is he for respect, Michael becomes more and more isolated as a character, and unfortunately, the lack of inner conflict doesn't make for a very dramatic arc since he doesn't undergo any significant transformation in the story. I believe this sort of evolution is what made the first book and its film version resonate. The author instead focuses Michael's attention externally on his deteriorating relationship with Fredo, the weak brother whom we already know is no match for him. In fact, Winegardner fills in a lot of the blanks about Fredo making him a bisexual psychopath who hosts a TV show.
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