The Weekly Quill — An Offer That Couldn’t Be Refused: The Tokyo Twist

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“In that case, I will make you an offer that no one would decline.”

Honoré de Balzac, Le Père Goriot, 1835

In his New York Times obituary, which ran July 3, 1999, the day after Mario Puzo died of heart failure at the age of 78 in his Bay Shore, New York home, we learn that,

“When Mr. Puzo wrote The Godfather‘ in the late 1960’s, he did it reluctantly. His first two novels had received favorable reviews but had earned him a total of $6,500. At 45 and in debt, he thought he was going downhill fast as a writer. But he had some favorite stories to tell about the Mafia, and for the money, he decided to write a book about Italian-Americans in organized crime. From the author’s account, he had scant encouragement from publishers and received an advance of only $5,000. But when the book was published in 1969, it became one of the most phenomenal successes in literary and cinematic history.

The novel was the No. 1 best seller in the United States and was on the New York Times best-seller list for 67 weeks. It was also the most popular novel in England, France, Germany and other countries, and sold more than 21 million copies.”

How delightful to learn of his reluctance and that a French novelist was the inspiration for the line that is among the most famous ever uttered in a book, on the big screen, in one perfect sequel, one subsequent less than perfect sequel and countless re-viewings. The “delight” has an origin of its own. I had long ago promised myself I would not write about The Godfather. I am too close to the movies and hated the idea of exploiting their near flawlessness to make an apropos transition to a real-world event. The Godfather was a real-world event.

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