...and so begins The Godfather.
The Godfather. Classic, correct? Correct. A movie in all its wonder. Brando, Pacino, yes yes! Take it to the mattresses... But before all that there was Mario Puzo and his 1969 novel of the same title. The film may seem more enduring these days, but it is in the book where the true treasures lie, in its brilliant, breakneck drive, all of which is so engrossing. terrifying. Let us learn some lessons from the Godfather himself...
Book 1, page 19
"...He(Don Corleone)was comforted by the knowledge that in this world there comes a time when the most humble of men, if he keeps his eyes open, can take his revenge on the most powerful..."
God: Here is hope for everyone. Keen advice: all comes to those who hustle while they wait.
Book 1, page 20
"...From sheer habit Paulie Gatto wondered just how he could go about hijacking that fat pocketbook. The idea amused him. But he knew it was idle, innocent dreaming, as small children dream of knocking out tanks with shotguns..."
God: Idle, innocent dreaming. I am a guilty as charged for this activity. But what else can you expect? Our brain is always processing and hypothesizing, whether we want it to or not. We call it survival instinct. Jealous girlfriends call it cheating.
Book 1, page 22
"...He gave the baker a Di Nobili cigar and a glass of yellow Strega and put his hand on the man's shoulder to urge him on. That was the mark of Don's humanity. He knew from bitter experience what courage it took to ask a favor from a fellow man..."
God: If men could overcome this... If I could overcome this... How much easier would life be?
Book 1, page 27
..."'Oh,' Kay said, then asked curiously, 'why didn't you adopt him?'
Michael laughed. 'Because my father said it would be disrespectful for Tom to change his name. Disrespectful to his own parents...'"
Book 1, page 31
"You did not need me(Don Corleone). Very well. My feelings were wounded but I am not that sort of person who thrusts his friendship on those who do not value it - on those who think me of little account."
Book 1, page 38
"Friendship is everything. Friendship is more than talent. It is more than government. It is almost the equal of family. Never forget that. If you had built up a wall of friendships you wouldn't have to ask me for help. Now tell me, why can't you sing...?"
Book 1, page 39
"'He's a businessman,' the Don said blandly, 'I'll make him an offer he can't refuse.'"
Book 1, page 45
"...Ah, men understand friendship more than we women..."
God: Do men understand it better, or do they just perform it better? The principles of a male friendship are rigid and simple, revolving around one word. Loyalty. Female friendships are a little more complicated, full of vanity preened in flattery... swirling in suppressed jealousy and FEELINGS, ugh. I could go on and on.
Book 1, page 45
"The doctor was a young man, serious-faced and with the air of one born to command, that is to say, the air of one who has been immensely rich all his life..."
God: Having always been rich, you have been denied the evolution of humility. Humility will have been replaced by a sense of entitlement and also the belief that you have the ability to manipulate people to your will, like all those poor people beneath you. Maybe good things can come from money after all...
Book 1, page 46
"'My dear doctor,' said Don Corleone, 'is it true he is dying?'
'Yes,' said Dr. Kennedy.
'Then there is nothing more for you to do,' said Don Corleone. 'We will take up the burden. We will comfort him. We will close his eyes. We will bury him and weep at his funeral and afterwards we will watch over his wife and daughters."
God: A good Doctor must know when to step away.
Book 1, page 52
"A lawyer with his briefcase can steal more that a hundred men with guns."
God: I guess that's a real shame. But at least they get paid accordingly. I still think 100 men with guns is a more glorious thing to be a part of. Rather than sheisting men with technicalities, sheist 'em with a Tek. At least you'll be a man about it.
Book 1, page 53
"He took Hagen into his arms for a quick embrace and afterward treated him more like a true son, though he would sometimes say, 'Tom, never forget your parents,' as if he were reminding himself as well as Hagen.
God: If you're lucky, you'll find surrogates for members of your life who have failed you.
Book 1, page 146
"Tom, don't let anybody kid you. It's all personal, every bit of business. Every piece of shit every man has to eat every day of his life is personal. They call it business. OK. But it's personal as hell. Accidents don't happen to people who take accidents as a personal insult."
God: Damn straight. Don't separate your feelings from the game. If you do, you'll fail. You'll get taken advantage of. Sensitivity isn't a pussy characteristic. It's survival and it should be heeded.
Book 1, page 147
"There are things that have to be done and you do them and you never talk about them. You don't try to justify them. They can't be justified. You just do them. Then you forget it."
God: It's not always a bad idea to "suppress." If you rethink and question everything you do, you will find a way to let it eat you alive. Sometimes you've got to follow your gut and not look back. Sometimes there is no right. Sometimes there is no wrong. Sometimes there just is.
Book 2, page 158
"His[Johnny Fontane's] glass had considerably more brandy in it than hers, he needed it to warm himself, to cheer himself, to charge himself up. His situation was the reverse of the lover's usual one. He had to get himself drunk instead of the girl."
God: I relate with this. That's all.
Book 2, page 159
"He hated girls who turned on all of a sudden as if their bodies were motors galvanized into erotic pumpings by the touching of a hairy switch."
Book 2, page 159
"He didn't like her quite so much now. She was sweet, she was witty, she was intelligent. She hadn't fallen all over herself to screw for him or try to hustle him because his connections would help her in show biz. She was really a straight kid."
Book 2, page 188
"Every man has only one destiny."
God: You can try to buck the truth all you want, but your destiny will win out. I am the best example. God-I-Am.
Book 2, page 191
"He knew his buddy needed human contact with someone he trusted and Nino felt an enormous sadness that Johnny didn't have anyone better than himself to touch in his moment of glory."
Book 3, page 197
"Clemenza was a storyteller; Vito Corleone was a listener to storytellers. They became casual friends."
God: Simple as that. I for one am the listener.
Book 3, page 221
"The Don considered a use of threats the most foolish kind of exposure; the unleashing of anger without forethought as the most dangerous indulgence."
Book 4, page 258
"Time erodes gratitude more quickly than it does beauty."
Book 4, page 268
"He had kept his composure and the old woman had not noticed anything amiss. Not that she could not have, if she wanted to, but in her life with the Don she had learned it was far wiser not to perceive. That if it was necessary for her to know something painful, it would be told to her soon enough. And if it was a pain that could be spared her, she could do without."
Book 5, page 292
"We are all men who have refused to be fools, who have refused to be puppets dancing on a string pulled by the men on high... We will manage our world for ourselves because it is our world, cosa nostra."
Book 5, page 304
"The days before she saw him again her body was in torment. Their passion for each other was of the most elementary kind, undiluted by poetry or any form of intellectualism. It was love of the coarsest nature, a fleshly love, a love of tissue for opposing tissue."
Book 5, page 319
"Truth telling and medicine just didn't go together except in dire emergencies."
Book 7, page 365
"My father is a businessman trying to provide for his wife and children and those friends he might need someday in a time of trouble. He doesn't accept the rules of the society we live in because those rules would have condemned him to a life not suitable to a man like himself, a man of extraordinary force and character. What you have to understand is that he considers himself the equal of all those great men like Presidents and Prime Ministers and Supreme Court Justices and Governors of the States. He refuses to live by rules set up by others, rules which condemn him to a defeated life. But his ultimate aim is to enter that society with a certain power since society doesn't really protect its members who do not have their own individual power. In the meantime he operates on a code of ethics he considers far superior to the legal structures of society."
Book 7 ,page 365
"I[Michael] have no intention of placing my fate in the hands of men whose only qualification is that they managed to con a block of people to vote for them."