April 8, 2003

John Fante: born April 8, 1909, died May 8, 1983

Happy Birthday, and thank you for your words...

From Ask the Dust:

"I was twenty then. What the hell, I used to say, take your time, Bandini. You got ten years to write a book, so take it easy, get out and learn about life, walk the streets. That's your trouble: your ignorance of life."
"One day a beautiful letter came. Oh, I got a lot of letters, but this was the only beautiful letter, and it came in the morning, and it said (he was talking about The Little Dog Laughed) he had read The Little Dog Laughed and liked it; he said, Mr. Bandini, if ever I saw a genius, you are it. His name was Leonardo, a great Italian critic, only he was not known as a critic, he was just a man in West Virginia, but he was great and he was a critic, and he died. He was dead when my airmail letter got to West Virginia, and his sister sent my letter back. She wrote a beautiful letter too, she was a pretty good critic too, telling me Leonardo had died of consumption but he was happy till the end, and one of the last things he did was sit up in bed and write me about The Little Dog Laughed: a dream out of life, but very important; Leonardo, dead now, a saint in heaven, equal to any apostle of the twelve.

Everybody in the hotel read The Little Dog Laughed, everybody: a story to make you die holding the page, and it wasn't about a dog, either: a clever story, screaming poetry. And the great editor, none but J.C. Hackmuth with his name signed like Chinese said in a letter: a great story and I'm proud to print it..."
John Fante was inspired by the writings (not the horrid political views) of knut hamsun.

charles bukowski was inspired by Fante.

Here is a very short piece about when Bukowski met Fante, late in Fante's life, when he was confined to a hospital bed:

small conversation in the afternoon with John Fante

he said, "I was working in Hollywood when Faulkner was working in Hollywood and he was the worst: he was too drunk to stand up at the end of the afternoon and so I had to help him into a taxi day after day after day.

"but when he left Hollywood, I stayed on, and while I didn't drink like that maybe I should have, I might have had the guts then to follow him and get the hell out of there."

I told him, "you write as well as Faulkner.:" "you mean that?" he asked from the hospital bed, smiling.


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