Puzo’s fans will appreciate this warm portrait.



An exploration of the life and work of Mario Puzo (1920-1999).

In 1969, 14 years after his first novel appeared—and quietly disappeared—Puzo catapulted to fame with the publication of The Godfather. Drawing on Puzo’s autobiographical nonfiction, essays, published interviews, and memoirs by his friends and fellow writers, Moore (For Paris—With Love & Squalor, 2017) fashions an admiring portrait of the self-described “working-class novelist” whose spectacular success ended years of professional disappointment. Puzo grew up poor, amid “the grimy odors, the sooty filth, and the oily stenches” of Manhattan. Summers in New Hampshire, courtesy of the Fresh Air Fund, and sports and arts programs at the Hudson Guild Settlement House nourished his spirit. Sports, cards, and voracious reading became his choice activities. His future, though, seemed bleak to him, and he described the period between 18 and 21 as unremittingly miserable. In 1941, he was “delighted,” he admitted, to join the Army. When the war was over, he stayed on in the military in Germany and married a German woman. Postwar Europe, Moore observes, “was rife with intrigue, dangerous in ways that an ambitious writer would appreciate for sheer narrative intensity.” That atmosphere found its way into Puzo’s first novel, The Dark Arena, garnering critical praise but “general indifference” from readers. Moore chronicles Puzo’s money problems (with a wife and five children to support), affinity for gambling, and work frustrations. In 1962, he resigned from a government job to become a full-time staff writer at the Magazine Management Company, where he would turn out 30,000-40,000 words per month under various pen names before going home to write his own novels. Hard as he worked, though, he was always in debt—until he took an editor’s advice to write about “that Mafia stuff” that had appeared in some of his stories. It was advice well-taken: Readers made The Godfather a bestseller for 67 weeks, and it has lived on as a movie and sequels.

Puzo’s fans will appreciate this warm portrait.

Pub Date: March 19, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-942762-63-8

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Heliotrope Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2019

Did you like this book?

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...



Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

Did you like this book?



Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

Did you like this book?