Sunday, December 7, 2008

The Reason Mario Puzo Wrote the Godfather ...

was... to make money! And he did. But what he really made is the best gangster plot of all times. Here is an excerpt from Mario Puzo's story about writing the book (read the rest on MailOnline: How They Shot the Godfather):

I was 45 years old and tired of being an artist. Besides, I owed $20,000 to relatives, finance companies, banks, and assorted bookmakers and shylocks. It was time to grow up and sell out, as Lenny Bruce once advised.

So I told my editors, OK, I’ll write a book about the Mafia, just give me some money to get started. They said no money until we see 100 pages. I wrote a ten-page outline. They showed me the door again.


I finally had to finish The Godfather in July 1968 because I needed the final $1,200 advance payment to take my wife and kids to Europe. My wife had not seen her family for 20 years, and I had promised her that this was the year, so I handed in the rough manuscript. Before leaving for Europe, I told my publisher not to show the book to anybody; it had to be polished.


I got my mother on the phone. She speaks broken English but understands the language perfectly. I explained it to her.

She asked, ‘$40,000?’

I said no, it was $410,000. I told her three times before she finally answered, ‘Don’t tell nobody.’

Traffic was jammed, and it took me over two hours to get home. When I walked in the door, my wife was dozing and I went over, kissed her on the cheek, and said, ‘Honey, we don’t have to worry about money any more. I just sold my book for $410,000.’ She smiled at me and kept dozing.

I started getting annoyed. Nobody seemed to think this was a big deal. My whole life was going to change; I didn’t have to worry about money. It was almost like not having to worry about dying.

Then my sister said, ‘You got $40,000 for the book. Mama called.’

I was exasperated with my mother. After all those explanations she had gotten it wrong.

Her 80 years were no excuse.

‘No, it was $410,000.’ Now I got the reaction I wanted…

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