I Wanna Be Literated #211

I Wanna Be Literated #211

Monday, 06 January 2020

The Irishman
Originally Published as I Heard You Paint Houses
by Charles Brandt

Unfortunately, you can’t talk about the Irishman nowadays without talking about Martin Scorcese. Although Charles Brandt’s book I Heard You Paint Houses came before the movie, all the attention and love the movie has received is undoubtedly going to lead some people to its source. The Irishman most certainly is a great movie, and compelling enough for its viewers to want more. It was the case for me, so here we are, with a belly full of stories.

As a reader, I was surprised how much I Heard You Paint Houses (which is what I’m going to call the book to distinguish it from the movie) was adapted into the Irishman, and I mean that as a compliment. Even some of the dialogue is taken from this book word for word. Scorcese’s film style is definitely past paced and loaded with colorful people as it takes you through the various “jobs” these characters take on. Split between Frank Sheeran’s detailed storytelling (which Brandt presents as quotation) and the author’s research which helps the reader put things into perspective, IHYPH is as entertaining as any good mobster movie. As I had hoped, IHYPH offered a lot of back story on Sheeran that was missing from the Irishman. Compiled from years of interviews, Sheeran goes back to where it all began for him, telling how his early life and his time in the army shaped his pragmatic attitude, and how this quality, along with his loyalty, was just what mob boss Russell Buffalino appreciated. Sheeran seems to have just attracted bad news, and slowly this led to his life of crime. Towards the end, looking back, it seems like he has regretted his decisions and being a catholic, the need to confess his sins seems to have driven his desire for Brandt to write this book. It’s both an insight into what leads an outsider to a life of crime, and a sad story of what happens when you make the wrong choices.

IHYPH is a fantastic compliment to a great movie. It tells a full story, is loaded with surprises, offers a wonderful closure to a complicated life, and gives the reader a deeper understanding of the events happening in the Irishman. And, if you’re a fan of mobster stuff? Forget about it!

Get it here.

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