Currently, I’m working my way through Ed Falco’s, The Family Corleone (Grand Central Publishing, 2013), the “prequel” to Mario Puzo’s The Godfather (Putnam, 1969). Set in the early 1930s, the book’s events essentially expand upon certain themes and issues that Puzo mentioned in his original work, with a lot of filler to explain how Vito Corleone established his criminal organization.
It’s not a bad read, although in my opinion, it doesn’t become even remotely interesting until after the second half. I read the original Godfather nearly thirty years ago, so it’s been a while since I’ve seen the characters as Puzo originally depicted them. The first half revolves largely around Luca Brasi’s back-story and how he becomes Vito’s fiercely loyal (and feared) associate. I’ve no intention of spoiling anything, so I won’t explain how this happens except to say that it seemed too fast and easy. It was literally like, “Blink and you’ll miss it” fast, and when Luca falls for you, boy does he jump in with both feet.
Then there’s Sonny Corleone, Vito’s eldest, memorably depicted by James Caan in the films. Again, no spoilers here, but I don’t remember Sonny being this obnoxious. If anything, I kept wanting Sonny to drive out onto the Parkway a lot sooner than he should. There’s Tom Hagen’s back-story, too, although it’s not as interesting as I’d hoped it would be, and upon reflection, Tom comes off more as an idiot rather than the intelligent outsider that Robert Duvall presented. If you’re familiar with The Godfather, Part II, then there are a number of characters who pop up to establish that continuity as well – the Rosato Brothers and Frankie Pentangeli, for example – to explain some of the hatred that Michael Corleone will deal with in the years to come.
The Family Corleone is a nice summer read. There’s a part of me that wishes that Falco would continue the tale into the early 1940s, or even cover the years between Michael Corleone’s ascension at the end of The Godfather and the start of The Godfather, Part II. But this will have to do. If nothing else, it’s got me wanting to dig out my copy of Puzo’s masterpiece for another read.