Anyone who read The Godfather - the most enduring, healthy, and happy relationship in the entire goddamn book is between Lucy, the girl who made Sonny's Cock an actual supporting character (and for whom I spent serious time learning about pelvic floors to explain this particular plot point) and Jules, the former surgeon turned Las Vegas abortion doctor.
Using Jules, Mario Puzo gave the coldest, baldest and most effective pro-choice argument I've ever seen.
Since I read it years ago, bits of his description of his life as a surgeon flash through my head, and as freaking casually frozen as he is (Puzzo's love of minimalism in prose is definitely a thing), in this time period--in any time period--Jules is a doctor who has no fucks to give for anyone--husbands, fathers, priests, pregnancies, goddamn religious bullshit--but the women themselves who are his patients. They deserve--and they get--all of him. I love my doctor and he's amazing, but a part of me wonders what it woudl be like to see a doctor and know down to my bones that doesn't give a good shit about what my uterus may or may not potentially contain, because all that matters to him is me.
In a time and place where a woman could be a virgin, whore, mother, all three, but never once stopped being chattel, it was weird to see the contrast between Lucy--who never thought of herself outside the role of the typical Italian girl and yet simply being herself took her so far, far beyond it, and Kay, who was the independent American girl who neatly and almost invisibly fell right into the sharply limited Corleone definition of a woman.
I just had to get that out there. Digression ended.
Here's why this book remains one of my favorites and a maybe every three year full re-read; in a novel about gangsters, murder, the evils of the heroin trade, the bizarre and invisible double standards that they couldn't even acknowledge ruled everyone's lives, the ups and downs of the olive oil monopoly, all deathly serious and honestly not a little unsettling--we get Lucy, who any other sane writer would have left periphery at best but Mario Puzzo, whatever, that shit is for amateurs; gangsters, murder, heroin, corrupt cops, American values versus Old World values, big shit, and of equal weight...Lucy and her sex life aka Sonny's Cock.
No other writer on earth could just throw an entire subplot like that into the mix and make it work so effortlessly it's not until long after you read it that you realize, a little surprised: wait, what?
And you go check and realize, yeah, it went from pasta murder to Lucy dreaming of dead Sonny's cock, again, and your investment in Michael's goddamn broken-ass nose is like nothing compared to desperately hoping Lucy finds a Sonny Cock Mark II that makes her happy. Michael, get the fucking surgery and go to Italy and screw sheep or whatever, that's gross, now tell me more about Lucy's life and that hotass doctor in Las Vegas.
Okay, maybe this is just me, fine.
Mario has literally no ability to be sentimental (blank prose murders almost an afterthought, spare lines describing spousal abuse and torture, and most clinical pedophilic off-screen rape I've ever read with nothing, not one thing, that wasn't horrifying), and while I never got the impression he disapproved of a single thing they did (seriously, no; the horsehead thing was about as close to glee as Mario ever got, just on the basis of how many words he spent in description), sometimes there was almost a documentary feel to it, like a naturalist describing his world as he understands it, not as he wishes it (or wishes it not) to be.
Romance is a word without meaning, I'm pretty sure humor is something he heard about once at a party that he never did quite understand, and his sex scenes have all the sizzle of a medical journal article on the mechanics of coitus in the human heterosexual pairbond and that includes surprisingly graphic cameos of Sonny's Cock at Work and Play. I don't deny this, and I get why people say he's not a great writer, and I almost get why some people think he's not a good one, but if you accept what he's doing as a very, very specific and very deliberate style, one that works for you or never will, he really does know exactly what he's doing with every word on the page.
And then he blindsided me like whoa; Lucy and Jules's first time.
Stop me if you don't want to be spoiled, but seriously, it's worth reading; if you've made it that far into the novel, you've either acclimatized by sheer blunt force or fell right into his style from the first page, and what you will read next will be Puzzo writing a romantic comedy and holy goddamn shit, someone told him what it meant to have a sense of humor and for a few pages, he knew what to do with it.
Lucy--who has yet to inform Jules of her somewhat non-standard vagina (as she has no idea what the hell is going on down there but Sonny's Cock was fucking amazing in mitigating it)--freaks out when Jules first achieves penetration at which time the issue is difficult to hide, and we are maybe two steps from screaming trauma and thinking Jules would look fantastic in his component parts because fuck you, Lucy need some goddamn love (and sex) and you have your doubts about Jules (and Jules Cock) being up to the task.
Foolish reader: never doubt the man who can calmly compare cancer to melons and give you a visual to haunt your nightmares in twenty words or less.
Jules jumps--shifts? Maybe retrenches would be the most accurate description--to Orgasm Plan B without missing a beat, and not only orgasms for everyone (you will feel so happy for Lucy, you have no idea; I almost cried), but epic cuddling even A/B/O knotting can only dream of achieving. Romantic (I had no fucking clue Puzzo could spell it), sexy (Puzzo style sexy; who knew that was even possible?), funny (it's like for a moment, he achieved humor enlightenment and someone showed him something by Disney) and sentimental full-contact post-coital cuddling without anyone experiencing a traumatic locked bathroom screaming session.
Sexist? Yes: this is goddamn Mario Puzzo writing about the mafia; magic in a JK Rowling book about Harry Potter would be less expected. But. Jules. I'm gonna have to admit; any guy who while having sex with me discovered my Terrible Secret Sex Deformity, switches mid-stroke and gets me off, then indulges in massive cuddling while gigglingly telling me about my totally normal medical condition that is so so totally normal not even a thing before round two and hunts me down a surgeon while telling me he wants to marry me and also kind of finds the entire thing hilarious--the rest of it I could resist, maybe, but the last part, I can't.
(Post-Coital Cuddling Includes Medical Explanation-I finally got a very clear explanation of Lucy's Problem in five paragraphs that took Encyclopedia Brittanica several articles to get.)
Someone who can laugh at himself as easily and unselfconsciously and sincerely at the same time as he's laughing at me, because he gets the best and funniest jokes are always the ones that are shared; I couldn't say no to that, unicorns are too goddamn rare.
The Godfather; Totally Serious Fucking Mafia Shit. And also, The Totally Fascinating Adventures of an Italian girl With a Terrible Sex Secret who finds epic love with an abortion doctor in goddamn Vegas and lives happily (and post-surgically orgasmically) ever after.
I've read Romance novels less romantic than this.
...I'd actually offer up one third of my liver free and clear to see Mario Puzzo take on the Regency, just to read how he'd describe an evening of hijinks at Almack's. On a guess, it would not be entirely unlike an alien writing a report to his superiors about humanity's odd fascination with a being known as 'Sheldon' on a bizarre human entertainment known as a 'television show' that despite its title has nothing whatsoever to do with the big bang but has an unsettling focus on graphic t-shirts and things called 'superheroes' and it's still debatable whether or not they're supposed to be real, as the 'characters' don't seem to know either.
Tell me I'm wrong. Go ahead, just try.
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