Monday, April 29, 2013

Books read in 2013: No. 22 -- Fools Die

by Mario Puzo

Started: April 17
Finished: April 29

Notes: It's been a long while since I've read any Puzo, so I thought it time I give him another go. I've never been a huge fan of him, but have enjoyed his tales. This tale of gambling, the entertainment world and the publishing industry was apparently Puzo's favorite of his own works.

Mini review: Wow. Just ... wow. This was simply awe-inspiring storytelling. They don't write them like this nowadays. This novel seriously makes me reevaluate my opinion of Puzo as an artist. I seem to have read somewhere he considered this his favorite of his novels, and I can understand why. The story starts off in one direction, then shifts quite early. Normally I don't like it when writers do this, but Puzo does more than simply make it work. The tale spans roughly 15 to 20 years, from about 1950 to about 1970, with some mention of earlier events, though the author never gives exact dates and makes it not so easy to figure out how much time has passed. It's the little clues that give it away. Also, the story is centered around Vegas for the first half, then shifts to Hollywood for much of the second half, with the occasional jaunts to New York or Japan. This is not a mob book, though there are a few characters who operate on the edges of the mafia lifestyle. This novel says a lot about writing, and a lot about gambling, and a lot about the relationship between the sexes. Frankly, this novel says a lot about a lot of things. All of them interesting. And in the end, in the final pages, after all the running around and the adventures and the highs and the lows, it's actually quite the literary work. Yes, this is the type of novel that makes me, as a writer, more than a little jealous. It's also a novel for writers, which brought me more than a little enjoyment.


Keith West said...

I've not read Puzo but have often considered giving him a try. This sounds like a good place to start.

Ty Johnston said...

Keith, it's kind of funny, but I almost suggest not starting with this novel. Why? It's so good, it might ruin any other Puzo you read. At least in my opinion.

I've also read Puzo's "The Dark Arena," which was his first novel, about a WWII vet who returns to Germany soon after the war's end to find a girlfriend. It's a fair novel, but not written great. I've also read Puzo's "The Godfather," which was much improved over the earlier novel, but I still don't think was written as well as "Fools Die."