Tag Archives: John Fante

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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