Thursday, October 08, 2009

John Fante

A long time ago, way way back in the early 1990s, my then new friend Xtop lent me a CD of Charles Bukowski reading some of his poems and antagonizing a Redondo Beach audience. It’s a great CD that, among other things, caused me to be shocked by the sound of Buk’s voice. It wasn’t what I’d imagined. He was so gruesome a figure, so callus and tough, and his voice was so soft, or so it seemed to me at the time. (Now, very used to the sound of Bukowski’s voice, I might say that it is a perfect match for his overall look, not to mention the often overlooked beauty evident in many of his pages.)

One of the other things that CD did was introduce me, sort of, to the work of John Fante. In a weird, drunken digression, Buk started listing the books of Fante’s that he so loved. He called Fante a magic person and his “brother out of nowhere.” Not having any idea who John Fante was, but liking that his name sounded Italian, and rhymed with Dante, I decided to look into this person’s work.

I started with Wait Until Spring, Bandini, which, it turns out, was a good place to start. Not quite the achievement of Ask the Dust or The Brotherhood of the Grape, it does offer the newcomer a sense of the themes that Fante would touch on throughout his career. And it is the beginning of the Bandini saga, so it’s a good place to begin chronologically speaking.

Fante’s been on the brain as of late, due solely to his son, Dan Fante, and an interview with him that I heard last weekend on NPR. I looked up Dan and John Fante online, ‘cause, you know, that’s where all the info is, and stumbled across a rather nice piece on John Fante from And now I am sharing it with all of you:

So there.