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Fante: A Family’s Legacy of Writing, Drinking and Surviving Paperback – August 30, 2011

4.7 out of 5 stars 22 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“[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)

“If writing is fighting, then Dan Fante goes fifteen rounds and stays standing. This is a fascinating story about two hard-edged men, survival and the passion to live and to write.” (Michael Connelly)

“What a story. Riveting, harrowing, and extremely moving. Dan Fante’s been to hell and back and taken notes along the way.” (Mary Dearborn Author of The Happiest Man Alive: A Biography of Henry Miller and Mailer: A Biography)

“This book is a knockout, with all the down-and-out, kick-you-in-the-teeth, unflinching prose of self-taught street writers like Herbert Huncke and Hubert Selby, Jr. Dan Fante is now entrenched on my list of self-sabotaging, self-abusing fuckup writer anti-heroes.” (Neil Strauss, Author of The Game and Everyone Loves You When You're Dead)

“A brilliant memoir. John and Dan Fante are two sides of the same coin. Both battered but resilient, they’re writers who have written with pure honesty and blood and never gave up. It’s one of the best memoirs I’ve read in years.” (Willy Vlautin, author of Lean on Pete and The Motel Life)

“A vivid cautionary tale of a family’s struggles with words, rage and the bottle.” (Kirkus Reviews)

“[Fante’s] anecdotal, spare narrative is full of fine, pointed writing and searing memories” (Publishers Weekly)

“The Fantes, father and son, have been a major new discovery for me . . . I can’t think of the West Coast without them.” (— John Fowles, Author of The French Lieutenant’s Woman — John Fowles, Author of The French Lieutenant’s WomanJohn Fowles, author of The French Lieutenant's Woman)

“With Fante, and his father before him, there are never any false feelings or pretentiousness . . . you know he has been where he writes from, and judging by the sound of things, it has been one hell of a wild ride.” (Sacramento Book Review)

“Dan Fante is an authentic literary outlaw.” (New York Times)

“If you like your prose vodka-soaked, soulful, and bleeding on the page, then Fante is your man.” (Ben Meyers, 3AM MagazineBen Meyers, 3AM MagazineBen Meyers, 3AM MagazineBen Meyers, 3AM Magazine)

“Fante offers moments that brush the genius of Bukowski and Hubert Selby, Jr.” (Elle)

“Readers who don’t hang up . . . won’t be able to stop listening” (New York Times)

“Fante’s stories are as funny as they are dark, and always deeply human in a world that’s often not.” (Ron Shelton, Director (Bull Durham, White Men Can't Jump))

“Dan Fante’s writing grabs you by the throat and doesn’t let you go. It’s authentic, gritty, and yet full of a flawed beauty found in the strangest places and the hardest people.” (Ron Shelton, Director (Bull Durham, White Men Can't Jump))

About the Author

Dan Fante is the author of the memoir Fante, the novels 86'd, Chump Change, Mooch, and Spitting Off Tall Buildings, and several books of poetry, short stories, and plays. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife and son.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; Original edition (October 5, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062027093
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062027092
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.9 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #211,594 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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I bought this Sunday after reading the LA Times review and finished it this morning. Fante's story is blistering, terrifying and miraculous. Alcoholism and the "itty bitty committee" in his head conspire to kill him over most of his life, and the disease takes him to his knees time and time again. This man suffered.

Early on he got exposure to a dark side of life few of us will see -- that of a carney barker. The sales skills honed there see him through a loop-de-loop of a life, one in which he's living at the top of the heap at the beach and driving a red car back and forth to various high pressure gigs, only to self -destruct and lose everything. One of these cycles would be enough for most, but Fante keeps it up over many years, several times trying to stop the cycle by suicide attempts (or near-attempts). It brings to mind something I've heard said: that the tragedy of the alcoholic is not that they might die, but that they might live. And to live like Fante was living, racking up more and more self-hatred with every day -- it hurts my heart to even imagine it. There but for the grace of God . . . .

I knew the man got sober in AA, but as I read I kept thinking, how does someone come back from such damage? How can the Program help him stop his insanity and mend his broken brain? How can a man who has lived through what he has experienced, who has to live with the memories of such a life -- how does a person find peace.

He does. Fante's story is a miracle, no more and no less.

There's no self-pity here, either. No whining, no blaming. Fante tells his story straight-out, no apologies and no excuses. Then he turns with love to honor his parents and lives twisted and broken by booze. This book grabbed me and slammed me down, then up. Read it, that's all I can say.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I've been a fan of Dan Fante's work since I first read his material back in 2007, and this memoir is exactly what I've always wanted out of him. Honest, unflinching, interesting bare-bones prose, that has you laughing, damn-near crying, and at times cringing and turning away from the page. If you have any interest in the author's father, John Fante, the insight into his life and personality given in this book is one to behold. I'm no college professor, but if I were this book would get an A+.
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Format: Paperback
I was already a follower of Mr. Fante's earlier, shorter works, poems, and stories.

Now, arrives this big, powerful, moving book.

It explains so much to me about how this writer and man conquered the oppression of the legacy of a family's success, followed by a chaser of neglect, a double-espresso of anxiety, and a drinking binge...Then, in the dark of morning, lacking sleep, to swallow breakfast, the dry toast of despair.

The re-imagining of one's capabilities, separate from what we are told as children, is exemplified by this inspired and inspiring memoir. The author has reclaimed his own identity, and declared it his own.

In this memoir, a son in the shadows of fate, addiction, despair, becomes a child-man for a very long time. How many of us without famous parents have lived this way? In fear. In sentiment. Taking risks becomes unbearable. To meet defeat one more time, seemingly fatal.

How inspired I am (as one who at mid-life is beginning to write her remembrances) to find a book that brightens my own dusky path. Though great effort, in this case, writing -- writing no matter what -- writing whether or not one's writing is a public "success -- Mr. Fante is at last a man of his own making, standing in sunlight.

If you feel you could never write such a luminous, large story, look back at the baby steps taken by Mr. Fante in his earlier work -- of which I was a follower after being given a book of his poems by a fellow unknown writer (who still writes). Chump Change: A Novel (P.S.)[[ASIN:B004IK9FSQ 86'd: A Novel (P.S.)]
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By Pammy on March 21, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I came on Fante's book by accident, or perhaps habit best descibes it. I often scan titles and brief descriptions of books and then let the book pick me. This one spoke to me timidly, as I have seen the effects of addiction on loved ones, and wasn't sure I wanted to read about the soul eating, battle scarred lunar landscape of an addicts life. This is a raw look into addiction and addictive mental illness, as I believe they are twins, conjoined at the head and heart. I found the book riviting; the pace was quick and the story almost stupifying in that all the characters would come so close to the 'top of the mountain' only to self-destruct before reaching that spot where one would plant the flag. But it did help me to understand that the brain can be one's own worst enemy. We all know that on some level, but Fante slams the point home with his brutally honest recounting of his brain's constant hyper state and his fight to quiet it, through alcohol and drugs. This book should be required reading for addiction councilors. The book also brought to me a measure of peace; if Dan Fante could eventually recover from the pit and vice grip of addiction and stay sober for twenty plus years, after all the hell he unleashed on himself and others, there is hope for all addicts indeed.
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