Fante: A Family's Legacy of Writing, Drinking and Surviving

Fante: A Family's Legacy of Writing, Drinking and Surviving

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by Dan Fante
     
 

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"Dan Fante is an authentic literary outlaw." —New York Times

From Dan Fante, son of novelist John Fante, comes an exploration of his family’s legacy—one of boozing, passion, writing, and survival. Long before his father achieved literary recognition for Ask the Dust or The Road to Los Angeles, and before Dan had conceived

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Overview

"Dan Fante is an authentic literary outlaw." —New York Times

From Dan Fante, son of novelist John Fante, comes an exploration of his family’s legacy—one of boozing, passion, writing, and survival. Long before his father achieved literary recognition for Ask the Dust or The Road to Los Angeles, and before Dan had conceived his novels 86’d, Chump Change, and Mooch, their difficult relationship as father and son evolved in a household where love and literary artistry were often overshadowed by emotional violence. Fante is the story of Dan’s struggle to find his own voice amidst the madness of his family’s dark inheritance, a memoir of his escape from his own vices and his eventual return to Los Angeles to embrace the man—and the calling—that once had driven him away.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Son of novelist and screenwriter John Fante, and grandson to an Italian immigrant from Abruzzo, Dan Fante (Spitting off Tall Buildings) fashions a frank, hard-hitting memoir about the curse that they all shared: heavy drinking. Fleeing a blighted existence as a poor farmer in his village in the Apennines mountains, Nick Fante got to America in 1901 and eked out a living as a stonemason in Denver, frittering away his pay on alcohol and gambling, though dazzling his children with his storytelling skills; his eldest son, John, inherited his father's gloominess and temper, as well as weakness for alcohol, and turned the family narrative proclivity into spinning out gritty stories for H.L. Mencken's The American Mercury. Writing for Hollywood paid bigger, and for 45 years, married to Stanford graduate Joyce Smart, living in Malibu, and raising four children, he tossed off screenplays while torturously neglecting his own work. His awkward second son, Dan, born in 1944, was ill-favored, dyslexic, overweight, and perennially anxious living under an angry, "volcanic" father. He developed a rich inner fantasy life, his education largely street smarts, and worked at odd jobs like driving a cab in New York City and boozing heavily until the mid-1980s. Indeed, he didn't attempt a first novel until his father was dead from complications of diabetes, and, at age 47, Dan Fante dug out his dad's old Smith-Corona portable. His anecdotal, spare narrative is full of fine, pointed writing and searing memories. (Sept.)
New York Times
“Readers who don’t hang up . . . won’t be able to stop listening”
Elle
“Fante offers moments that brush the genius of Bukowski and Hubert Selby, Jr.”
Sacramento Book Review
“With Fante, and his father before him, there are never any false feelings or pretentiousness . . . you know he has been where he writes from, and judging by the sound of things, it has been one hell of a wild ride.”
Author of The Happiest Man Alive: A Biography of Henry Miller and Mailer: A Biography - Mary Dearborn
"What a story. Riveting, harrowing, and extremely moving. Dan Fante’s been to hell and back and taken notes along the way."
John Fowles
"The Fantes, father and son, have been a major new discovery for me . . . I can’t think of the West Coast without them."
Carolyn Kellogg
“[Fante] is frank and funny. Dan does not lionize or demonize his father, nor does he indulge in the self pitying or self gratifying aspects of memoir. Its an achievement in tone and delightful to read.”
Michael Connelly
“If writing is fighting, then Dan Fante goes fifteen rounds and stays standing. This is a fascinating story about two hard-edged men, survival and the passion to live and to write.”
Mary Dearborn Author of The Happiest Man Alive: A Biography of Henry Miller and Mailer: A Bi
“What a story. Riveting, harrowing, and extremely moving. Dan Fante’s been to hell and back and taken notes along the way.”
Neil Strauss
“This book is a knockout, with all the down-and-out, kick-you-in-the-teeth, unflinching prose of self-taught street writers like Herbert Huncke and Hubert Selby, Jr. Dan Fante is now entrenched on my list of self-sabotaging, self-abusing fuckup writer anti-heroes.”
Willy Vlautin
“A brilliant memoir. John and Dan Fante are two sides of the same coin. Both battered but resilient, they’re writers who have written with pure honesty and blood and never gave up. It’s one of the best memoirs I’ve read in years.”
— John Fowles
“The Fantes, father and son, have been a major new discovery for me . . . I can’t think of the West Coast without them.”
Ben Meyers
“If you like your prose vodka-soaked, soulful, and bleeding on the page, then Fante is your man.”
Ron Shelton
“Dan Fante’s writing grabs you by the throat and doesn’t let you go. It’s authentic, gritty, and yet full of a flawed beauty found in the strangest places and the hardest people.”
Kirkus Reviews

A tell-all of a turbulent, alcohol-infused life recounted by the son of a literary icon.

In his memoir, Dan Fante (86'd, 2009, etc.)—the black-sheep son of writer John Fante—describes an unhappy childhood under the eye of his brooding father. After a few initial successes as a writer, John soon found himself sacrificing his art for a paycheck, writing one failed novel after another while supporting his family as a screenwriter. His son describes the seedy underbelly of the Los Angeles writing scene, recalling a father whose drinking, gambling and fury cast a long shadow over the family home. When the author became old enough to leave home, he began his adult life as a carny, surrounding himself with "dopers and drinkers, a dwarf, and a couple part-time hooker." His downward spiral continued, and after further failings as a cab driver, vacuum-cleaner salesmen, street peddler, special investigator and part owner of a limousine service, Fante at long last found his true calling in his father's profession. Yet beneath the writer's struggles to subsist were his even greater struggles with alcoholism. "Booze was my first love," he writes; on least two occasions, he attempted to detox by locking himself in motel rooms until the snake and insect hallucinations died down. But these remained temporary fixes. At the end of his life, John Fante asked his son to read over a manuscript. When the novice writer remarked that the work might not find a wide audience, the seasoned author explained, "If what I write is good, then people will read it. That's why literature exists. An author puts his heart and his guts on the page." It is a lesson Dan never forgot, and one that served him well in his own writing future.

A vivid cautionary tale of a family's struggles with words, rage and the bottle.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780062027368
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
08/30/2011
Sold by:
HARPERCOLLINS
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
416
File size:
4 MB

What People are saying about this

John Fowles
“The Fantes, father and son, have been a major new discovery for me . . . I can’t think of the West Coast without them.”
Neil Strauss
“This book is a knockout, with all the down-and-out, kick-you-in-the-teeth, unflinching prose of self-taught street writers like Herbert Huncke and Hubert Selby, Jr. Dan Fante is now entrenched on my list of self-sabotaging, self-abusing fuckup writer anti-heroes.”
Mary Dearborn
“What a story. Riveting, harrowing, and extremely moving. Dan Fante’s been to hell and back and taken notes along the way.”
Carolyn Kellogg
“[Fante] is frank and funny. Dan does not lionize or demonize his father, nor does he indulge in the self pitying or self gratifying aspects of memoir. Its an achievement in tone and delightful to read.”
Michael Connelly
“If writing is fighting, then Dan Fante goes fifteen rounds and stays standing. This is a fascinating story about two hard-edged men, survival and the passion to live and to write.”
Ben Meyers
“If you like your prose vodka-soaked, soulful, and bleeding on the page, then Fante is your man.”
Willy Vlautin
“A brilliant memoir. John and Dan Fante are two sides of the same coin. Both battered but resilient, they’re writers who have written with pure honesty and blood and never gave up. It’s one of the best memoirs I’ve read in years.”
Ron Shelton
“Dan Fante’s writing grabs you by the throat and doesn’t let you go. It’s authentic, gritty, and yet full of a flawed beauty found in the strangest places and the hardest people.”

Read More

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