I'm wondering if anyone else has picked this up? I just finished reading it, and I have a couple thoughts.
First, I enjoyed it very much, and I think it did a nice job of filling in some gaps between Part I and Part II, and even between Parts II and III. It also tied the original novel with the movies nicely (although Lucy Mancini does pop up with out any explanation as to where Vincent Mancini is). I did enjoy a lot of the political stuff (what with the Sheas, a thinly veiled parody of the Kennedys), and the Johnny Fontane stuff (complete with his own Rat Pack, and they're filming a movie that seems a lot like Oceans 11).
As much as I liked the book, I have one minor quibble with it: the way Mark Winegardner wrote it, it comes across as a man with his Masters in Fine Arts, a trained writer, trying to write a pulpy, Mario Puzo-esque novel. Coming from Mario Puzo, a pulp novelist, it sounded natural, but coming from Mark Winegardner, with his Masters from George Mason University and his job as director of the Creative Writing program at Florida state, it sounds kinda forced.
Still, a very good read, and I do recommend it, but you really should read Puzo's original novel first if you hope to understand a lot of what went on.
I never, to the best of my knowledge, cut my toenails.
I just finished this the other day, and it's not that he diddn't have an understanding of the characters, it's that I wasn't insane about the book as a whole. It came off just a little bit too much like fanfic for my liking, but I probably need to re-read it just to see if I'm right or not.
Thumbs in the middle, since it was an easy and non-aggravating read (as in the pacing was pretty good and everything made relative sense), but I had trouble getting beyond the not-Puzo aspect.
""We may boo Santa Claus and throw frozen batteries in the end zone, but we don't throw $7 beers. We don't waste those." -Spurs forward and Philadelphia native Malik Rose, speaking on the Pacers-Pistons incident