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The Godfather Papers & Other Confessions

The Godfather Papers copyright ©1972 by Mario Puzo

Orig. Published by G.P. Putnam's Sons

Dedicated to Gino

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Excerpts from Mario's collection of autobiographical essays...


"I have written three novels. The Godfather is not as good as the preceding two; I wrote it to make money...."

"I was forty-five 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 really time to grow up and sell out as Lenny Bruce once advised. So I told me editors OK, I'll write a book about the Mafia...."

"One day a writer friend dropped into my magazine office. As a natural courtesy I gave him a copy of the Fortunate Pilgrim. A week later he came back. He thought I was a great writer. I bought him a magnificent lunch. During lunch I told him some funny Mafia stories and my ten-page outline [of the Godfather]. He was enthusiastic. He arranged a meeting for me with the editors of G.P. Putnam's Sons. The editors just sat around for an hour listening to my Mafia tales and said go ahead. They also gave me a $5,000 advance and I was on my way, just like that.... As soon as I got my hands on the Putnam money, I naturally didn't work on the book. (Luckily part of the advance was payable on the handing in of the complete manuscript or I would never have finished it.) The thing is, I didn't want to write The Godfather...."

"[The Godfather] took me three years to finish. During that time I wrote three adventure stories a month for Martin Goodman on a free-lance basis...."

"I'm ashamed to admit that I wrote The Godfather entirely from research. I never met a real honest-to-god gangster...."

"I finally had to finish The Godfather in July, 1968, because I needed the final $1,200 advance payment from Putnam to take my wife and kids to Europe. When I finally got home, I owed the credit card companies $8,000...."

"I went into New York to see my agent, Candida Donadio. She informed me that my publisher had just turned down $375,000 for the paperback rights to The Godfather. I called my editor at Putnam, Bill Targ, and he said they were holding out for $410,000 because $400,000 was some sort of record. Over coffee, he got a call. Ralph Daigh of Fawcett had bought the paperback rights for $410,000. I went up to the adventure magazine office to quit my freelance job...."

"I called my brother to tell him the good news. This brother had 10 percent of The Godfather because he supported me all my life and gave me a final chunk of money to complete the book. Since my half of the paperback rights came to $205,000 (the hard-cover publisher keeps half), he was in for a little over twenty grand...."




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