Alumnus Mark Winegardner Reads ‘Godfather’ Sequel at Fall for the Book

Posted: September 16, 2005 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Tara Laskowski

Mike Winegardner
Mike Winegardner

When Random House announced that Mark Winegardner, MFA Creative Writing ’87, was selected to write the sequel to Mario Puzo’s 1969 best-seller, “The Godfather,” the references to the book were everywhere.

It was “the offer he couldn’t refuse.” He was “the next Don.” The plot of his sequel was “something he could tell you, but then he’d have to kill you.” For a writer, it was pretty painful.

Now that the book has been released, Winegardner enjoys a lot of attention and a lot of mob talk. This weekend he will appear at two Fall for the Book events as well as direct a group of creative writing graduate students as part of the Visiting Writers Series sponsored by the English Department.

Today at 8 p.m. in the Johnson Center Cinema, Winegardner will sit on a panel with film historian Ron Hogan to discuss the legacy of the “Godfather” films. A screening of Francis Ford Coppola’s “The Godfather” will take place in the Johnson Center cinema before the panel at 5 p.m., and a screening of “The Godfather, Part II” will follow the panel at 9 p.m. On Saturday evening in Lecture Hall I, Winegardner will give a reading of his sequel, “The Godfather Returns,” at 8 p.m.

“The Godfather Returns” follows Mario Puzo’s famous Corleone family through their struggles and successes from 1955 to 1962.

Although this was a big challenge, Winegardner, who already has several fiction and nonfiction books and a collection of short stories published, is used to—and thrives on—big, sweeping epic novels.

“I like that kind of challenge,” he says. “I tell my students this all the time—you are always writing for the experts, always writing for that one person who can read your work and say, ‘That would never happen that way!’ I think of that person as my friend.”

As a teacher of writing for more than 20 years, most recently as director of the creative writing program at Florida State University, Winegardner says he enjoys being in the classroom—sometimes more than he enjoys writing.

“Writing is hard and humbling. Teaching is a blast. They pay me to talk about books I love. That’s kind of a scam.”

Winegardner believes that the best part of a writing program is teaching students discipline. He admits that sitting down to write is still the hardest part about being a writer. “It’s about showing up. Being brilliant is a function of showing up. You can’t be brilliant every day, but you’ll never be brilliant any day you don’t show up.”

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