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Ryan Holiday (Founder/Brass Check)I found John Fante through Neil Strauss, who considers Ask the Dustone of his favorite books. I read it in one day, LOVED it and subsequently read everything by Fante I could get my hands on. In 2011, I read seven Fante novels, one biography by his son and a book of letters between John and H.L Mencken. I utterly immersed myself in his world, from spending hours in Downtown LA where the books are based to reading everything I could find by his contemporaries. I even found out one of his novels is set in the random Northern California town I grew up in and that Fante lived just down the road from where I lived. NO fiction writer made a bigger impact on me this year and there were no book I enjoyed reading more (or read faster) than Fante’s books. My favorites, in order, are: Ask the Dust, Dreams from Bunker Hill, The Brotherhood of the Grape, Full of Life, Wait Until Spring, Bandini, The Road to Los Angeles, 1933 Was a Bad Year. Once you read those, you will almost certainly enjoy Fante/Mencken, and Fante: A Family’s Legacy of Writing, Drinking and Surviving.
No two lives could have been more different, yet similar in a few essential ways than John and Dan Fante′s. As father and son, John and Dan Fante were prone to fights, resentment and extended periods of silence. As men, they were damaged by alcoholism. As writers, they were compelled by anger, rage and unstoppable passion.
In FANTE, Dan Fante traces his family′s history from the hillsides of Italy to the immigrant neighborhoods of Colorado to Los Angeles. There, John Fante struggles to gain the literary recognition he so badly craves, and despite the publication of his best known work, ASK THE DUST, he turns to the steady paycheck of Hollywood, working as a screenwriter to support his family. We follow Dan through a troubled childhood to his discovery of life′s vices through work as a carnival barker and later as he hitchhikes to New York City, where he drives a taxi for twelve years. While John Fante′s rage over his perceived failures as a writer and his struggle with debilitating diabetes make him more and more miserable, Dan struggles with alcoholic blackouts, suicidal thoughts and what he deems a broken mind.
John was a writer whose literary contributions were not recognised until the end of his life. Dan was an alcoholic saved by writing, who at the age of 45 picked up his father′s old typewriter in order to ease the madness in his mind. Fante is the story of the evolution of a relationship between father and son who eventually found their way back to loving each other. In straightforward unapologetic prose, Dan Fante lays bare his family′s story from his point of view, with the rage and passion of a writer, which he feels was his true inheritance and his father′s greatest gift.