As father and son, John and Dan Fante's relationship was characterized by competition, resentment, rages, and extended periods of silence. As men, both were driven to succeed but damaged by often uncontrolled drinking. As writers, both were gifted with 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 struggled to gain the literary recognition he so badly craved, and after the publication of his best known work, "Ask the Dust" (which was quickly consigned to literary oblivion), he turned to the steady paycheck of screenwriting, working to support his family and enjoy the good life of a well-paid Hollywood writer. We follow Dan through a troubled childhood to his discovery of words and life's vices, through work as a carnival barker and later as he hitchhikes to New York City, where he drives a taxi for seven years. Over time the elder Fante's rages over his perceived failure as a writer and his struggle with debilitating diabetes make him more and more miserable, until, late in life, he rekindles his true voice as a novelist.
Meanwhile, Dan battles alcoholic blackouts, repeated suicide attempts and what he considers an unrelenting and murderous mind. John was a writer whose literary contributions were not recognized 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 his madness. "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 true writer, which he feels was his true inheritance and his father's greatest gift.
"[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."--Carolyn Kellogg, Los Angeles Times