Tag Archives: Charles Bukowski

the brotherhood of the grape by John Fante

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John Fante is an American writer who doesn’t get his due respect. The man writes with passion, anger, and a craving for life. The Brotherhood Of The Grape is the third book I’ve read from Fante. So far the man is three for three with all aces. This book is about Henry Molise, a professional writer who was living a comfortable life in Redondo Beach until his brother calls to tell him their elderly parents are getting a divorce.  Henry’s father, Nick, is an alcoholic stone mason who never gave up his crown as King Asshole. His mother is a devout catholic who is desperately juggling her husband and sons to salvage anything resembling a normal Italian American family. Mamma mia!

First off, the book is hilarious. The quarreling between the family members is authentic. It’s sure to take everyone back to their childhood days of fighting with their siblings and cousins. The characters have their scars from growing up in a tightknit family which is funny in a dark comedy sort of way. There’s an ample amount of wine flowing to inspire some outrageous scenes. The family dynamic is done superbly. Fante adds the elements of anger, death, resentment, forgiveness, and alcoholism to produce a story that reads bitter sweet. The central theme is that between a proud father and reluctant son who’s grown up. They both know the father’s time is running out, but how do they bridge the gap that has always been there?

I can’t emphasize how much I recommend this book. The funny parts had me laughing out loud, the absurd antics of the father literally made my jaw drop, and the sad parts we’re enough to give me a heavy heart. Fante is a man who writes with a directness that is simple and powerful. The Brotherhood of the Grape is a leisurely with a lot of depth and comedy. I’ll be reviewing the rest of Fante’s collection as I obtain the copies.

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The Road to Los Angles by John Fante

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The Road to Los Angles by John Fante introduces one of the most bizarre, disturbed, and likeable alter egos in literature, Arturo Bandini. The book takes place in 1930’s Los Angles, primarily the rough neighborhoods around the harbor docks. We are put in the mind of a young man suffering from the world’s worst grandiosity complex. Bandini is convinced he will go down in history as the world’s greatest man. Unfortunately, he’s from a dirt poor family and works a fish cannery. His megalomania is severe to the point where it becomes absolute comedy. He is the ruler of a kingdom of beautiful women, deadly revolutions, exotic lands, and missions of conquest. The real world is an inconvenience.

The psychological depth is superb. Fante knows how to illustrate the grinding gears of a neurotic mind. The settings are absolutely vivid. You can smell the piles of fish guts smearing the page. The characters are fleshed out, but what’s truly interesting is how Fante instills personality into inanimate objects that come to life in Bandini’s warped mind. The constant tension between the magnificent fantasy in Bandini’s head, and the reality of living in a ghetto is done to great effect.

John Fante wrote this in his late twenties. The youthful energy is apparent throughout the whole book. The recklessness of youth drives him to take chances like a cocky bastard, but he has the writing ability to pull it off every time. Fante really captures the essence of the grimy, foggy, streets of Los Angles and the blue collar lifestyle. Charles Bukowski has been quoted saying, “Fante was my god.” Fante is writer that goes straight for the jugular, even when it comes to being a coward. He’s a writer that throws dog shit at the church. The Road to Los Angles is a book that swings hard with crude impact and special brand of finesse. Teenage angst just isn’t done this good anymore.

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“Play the piano drunk like a percussion instrument until the fingers begin to bleed a bit” by Charles Bukowski

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Play The Piano Drunk Like A Percussion Instrument Until The Fingers Begin To Bleed A Bit by Charles Bukowski is small book of big poems. They’re short and shit directly in your head. All of Bukowski’s works have a quality of being from a generation that lived harder, but also from a man who cared less because he saw the futility in everything. His tombstone reads “Don’t Try.” Yet, the poems in Play The Piano Drunk… take your mind to his world of seedy bars, faithless women, and desolate factories, within six words. It’s a book for anyone who knows what it’s like to waste away a job while being strangled with a crucifix. If you’ve never read a work by Bukowski, or even heard of him, pick up this book, pick up any of his books.

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Don’t Wait for Permission

It’s been several weeks since I released my book and entered the indie writing world. Discovering the indie writing community has been a beautiful thing. It gave me a feeling similar to when I first found out about Hip-hop, Rock, and counter culture. “What! This has been here all this time?” When I first heard about indie writers I imagined a bunch of turtleneck wearing intellectuals drinking overpriced/undersized cappuccinos, yammering on about irrelevant topics, and snapping their fingers whenever somebody delivered an extra steamy pile of verbal bullshit. Once again, stereotypes had failed me. The indie crowd isn’t just a bunch of beatniks hanging around Starbucks. It’s a diverse community which sort of reminds me of a college campus. There are the different camps, nerds, jocks, hipsters, punks, loud minorities, sitting at their spots.

I knew I had to network if I wanted to get my book out there. At first, Facebook sounded like an obvious route. I created a page and badgered all my friends to join. Their words of encouragement we’re greatly appreciated but after a while I began to notice that most people don’t read books. “I’m happy for you, but reading isn’t really my thing.” Although I’ve suspected this much, it was shocking to me nonetheless. I can understand if somebody doesn’t like reading a sort of genre, but all of them? In America this type of attitude doesn’t turn heads. Which is funny because if you tell someone you don’t watch TV, they look at you as if you’re Amish. They say the average person watches 2-3 solid months worth of television a year. Considering there’s only 12 of them in a set, I rather do something else.

Let’s see what else is on.

Yet, the reading community has inspired me to shake my head too. The bookworms are a lot like the music listeners. Most people have horrible taste. First of all, if you’re a grown adult and the only books you’ve read are Harry Potter, Twilight, and Fifty Shades of Grey, backhand yourself now. But at least they’re reading something. There was a time when, for certain individuals, teaching and learning to read was severely punishable. Even now there are places where having a wrong type of book can cost you your life. Why is that? Because of what’s contained in books, ideas that have taken people a lifetime to arrive at. And those ideas exist in relation to other people’s philosophies, which in turn create an intellectual web that is deeply human. Some people fear this.

I understand that a lot of people are completely turned off to reading. Public schools fail greatly in turning students into avid readers. I didn’t pick up a book for almost a year after graduating high school because I thought all books were boring and useless to me. Then I was lucky enough to pick up writers such as Malcolm X, Audre Lorde, Charles Bukowski, and plenty more. Thanks to these greats minds I’m increasingly connected to the great human spirit that drives us to continually evolve. My mind is like a raging river that’s never going to stop. Without books, it would be reduced to a murky creek. If you’re reading this, then you know exactly what I’m talking about. Don’t let the anti intellectual climate bring you down. Express your ideas through whatever means possible. The next time you see another friend becoming a zombie in front of the TV, hand him a book. You’d be surprised how it can change some people’s lives. 

Photo Credits in order of appearance:

http://indiewritingblog.com/

http://www.hangthebankers.com/nielsen-sued-for-billions-over-allegedly-manipulated-tv-ratings/

http://www.wpi.edu/offices/ih/diversity.html

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