July 13, 2004

trying to figure out what brian jones would be like if he'd have lived 'til today

* Bukowski on John Fante. excerpt:

Q: Tell us a little about your friendship with John Fante, you love his books and you became his friend...

Bukowski: As a young man, I hung around the libraries during the day and the bars at night. I read and I read and I read. Then I ran out of things to read. I kept pulling the books out of the shelves again and again. I could only read a few lines and I felt the fakeness and I put them back. It was a real horror show. Nothing related to life, at least not to mine and the streets and the people I saw in the streets and what they were forced to do and what they became. And one day I happened to pull out a book by somebody named Fante.

The lines leaped at me. Fire. No bullshit. But I'd never heard of Fante, nobody spoke of Fante. He was just in there. A book. It was called Ask The Dust. I didn't like the title but the words were simple and honest and full of passion. Holy shit, I thought, this man can write! Well, I read all of his books that i could get hold of And I knew that there were still some magic people on the earth. It was decades later in my writings that I mentioned a 'Fante'. Now all of my writings are not published but they are all sent to John Martin, Black Sparrow Press, and he asked me once, I believe it was over the telephone, 'You keep mentioning a 'Fante'? Is this a real writer?' I told him that it was and that he should read this fellow.

Soon I heard from Martin, he was very excited, 'Fante is great, great! I can't believe it! I am going to republish his works!' And then came the stream of Black Sparrow Fante books. Fante was still alive. My wife suggested that since he was such a hero to me that I go visit him. He was in a hospital, dying, blind and amputated; diabetes. We made visits to the hospital and once to his home where he was briefly released for a short time. He was a little bulldog, just brave without trying. But he was going. Still he wrote a book in that state, dictating it to his wife. Black Sparrow published it. He was a writer to the end. He even told me about his idea for his next novel: a woman baseball player who made it to the big leagues. 'Go ahead, John, do it,' I told him. But soon it was over...

Q: Do you know anything about this film being made from one of his books, is it "Bandini" that they've filmed?

Bukowski: I'm not sure about the movies. I think at least five of his books are being made into movies. A strange turn. He worked for Hollywood, you know. That's where he vanished to. That's where his other writing stopped. 'Why the hell did you go to Hollywood, that slime pit of nowhere? 7334; I asked him. "Mencken told me to,' he said, 'go ahead and take them.' Mencken, that son of a bitch. He sent Fante to hell. H. L. had published many of Fante's stories in the old American Mercury. Fante met Faulkner there. Faulkner would enter his cottage in the morning sober and come out dead drunk each evening. They had to pour him into a taxi cab."

* Just go read this ode to the drink.

* Pynchon on Richard Farina.


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