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Full of Life Paperback – May 31, 2002

4.4 out of 5 stars 20 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

John Fante began writing in 1929 and published his first short story in 1932. His first novel, Wait Until Spring, Bandini, was published in 1938 and was the first of his Arturo Bandini series of novels, which also include The Road to Los Angeles and Ask the Dust. A prolific screenwriter, he was stricken with diabetes in 1955. Complications from the disease brought about his blindness in 1978 and, within two years, the amputation of both legs. He continued to write by dictation to his wife, Joyce, and published Dreams from Bunker Hill, the final installment of the Arturo Bandini series, in 1982. He died on May 8, 1983, at the age of seventy-four.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 161 pages
  • Publisher: Black Sparrow Press (1988)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0876857187
  • ISBN-13: 978-0876857182
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 0.4 x 8.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #628,316 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Michael J. Mazza HALL OF FAME on April 17, 2002
Format: Paperback
"Full of Life," the novel by John Fante, is told in the first person by a character named, curiously enough, John Fante. This is one of many details in which the character's life mirrors that of the author. But whatever the degree to which "Life" is autobiographical, this is a very engaging, well-written novel.
The narrator of "Life" is an Italian-American writer living in Los Angeles with his pregnant wife, Joyce. As the novel follows the course of Joyce's pregnancy, John deals with Joyce's shifting emotional moods, her growing interest in Roman Catholicism (from which John himself has fallen away), and termite infestation in the house. All of this is further complicated by John's problematic relationship with his father Nick, a retired bricklayer who isn't shy about sharing his own strong opinions about family life.
This book is truly full of life: it is a richly realized blend of comedy and drama, and is peopled by a vividly realized group of characters. I especially loved old Nick Fante: stubborn but loving, devoted to his family and to his craft, and a rich source of Abruzzian folk beliefs.
"Life" is also noteworthy as a novel which really takes religion seriously, acknowledging both the emotional power and problematic nature of Roman Catholicism for many Italian-Americans. "Full of Life" is ultimately a very moving story of family ties, and a noteworthy contribution to the multi-ethnic literary heritage of the United States.
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Format: Paperback
This is a beautiful book, in the fullest sense of the term. Practically autobiographical, Full of Life tells the tale of Fante and his pregnant wife, Joyce, as well as his father and mother. It is beyond anything, a message of beauty, joy, wonder, astonishment, blissfulness, impending fatherhood, family and love.

Written in a most direct and simple style, Fante expresses very succinctly the emotions of a soon-to-be father, and the rises and falls of being married to a woman who is pregnant for the first time. His trepidation, her alterations at the hands of hormonal shifts and their fluctuating connections to each other, make for a sweetness, pervasive throughout the book, that inspires the deepest of respect for marriage, coupling and home.

When a surprising home accident occurs, Fante decides to venture to his parents home in the Sacramento Valley, from Los Angeles where he and Joyce live in their newly purchased house. His father and mother, the very image of emotional, visceral, animated Italian immigrants, welcome and cajole him, as his appearance is unanticipated. Papa Fante was for many years a bricklayer, and John hopes to engage him in help for his own home, unsure of the high costs hiring out will bring. After some dramas, Papa and son return to L.A., where the coming child brings together Joyce and her father-in-law, leaving John to struggle with issues of marriage, son-hood, fatherhood, and Joyce's new found religion, as if alone.

In the end, Full of Life is an interesting, beautifully written, funny, sweet story of family, in the best sense. The emotions of everyone involved, the observances of scathing insecurity which Fante makes of himself and those around him, the sense of warmth and hope, make this a superb experience. Another terrific time with the Great John Fante.
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This is a small but memorable novel by John Fante. Blurring the line between fiction and autobiography, it concerns a character named John Fante (a California writer) and his wife Joyce (the ‘fictional’ character sharing the name ‘Joyce’ with Fante’s real-life wife).

Joyce is pregnant and undergoing some of the same forms of apprehension that other first-time mothers experience. Moreover, the kitchen floor of their Wilshire Boulevard house has collapsed because of a termite infestation. John travels to the Sacramento area to ask his father (a retired bricklayer) to come to L.A. and repair their house. He does come, but then he refuses to repair the floor, choosing instead to build a vast chimney and fireplace (something to last a thousand years) for his soon-to-arrive grandson.

In the meantime Joyce is discussing a conversion to Roman Catholicism with the local (Italian) parish priest, a man who will immediately pressure her husband John to renew his own faith in the Church of Rome.

And that is pretty much it. More a long novella than a short novel, the book examines life among the fervent Italians, the life of a writer with a skeptical, bricklayer father and the relationship between a husband and wife when their life has been significantly disrupted but is about to be significantly enhanced.

The book is densely textured and beautifully, effortlessly written. The train trip from Sacramento to Los Angeles of John and his father Nick is particularly memorable.
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Format: Paperback
I think this is a great book if you are a fan of Fante. If you have never read Fante before, you should start out with his best like "Wait Until Spring, Bandini" or "1933 Was A Bad Year." Full of Life is tamer than most Fante novels. It revolved around the main character, his pregnant wife Joyce and Nick Fante. I found it to be a pretty moving book, especially near the end. Overall, I would say I enjoyed it yet, I found it to be somewhat different from the other Fante novels I had read.
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