21 May 2012

John Fante and the Brotherhood of the Grape

I have just finished reading John Fante's book called "The Brotherhood of the Grape". Auspicious title indeed for someone who works in the wine business! I had read a couple of Fante's books before, including Ask the Dust and Dreams from Bunker Hill. They seem/are strongly autobiographical, and are always powerfully emotional. The drink aspect that runs through many of these books may well have been a motivation for Bukowski's adoration of Fante, but that is not enough to make them as strong as they are. Anyway I have serious misgivings about Bukowski and no special admiration of people who drink themselves to death.


John Fante


Fante's work revolves a lot around his Italian peasant/craftsman descendance and the world that such personal history implied in western USA as from the thirties. He was born in 1909 and died (of diabetes) in 1983.The conflict-ridden, crazily passionate family relationships of Italian families are recurrent themes, as well as his immediate surroundings in and around LA. His writing is concise, strongly emotive and, to me, brilliantly visual. Not too surprising since he earned much of his living as a script-writer.



This Italian family background with all its messy, hysterical and destructive aspects, and especially the conflictual father-son relationship, forms the whole theme of The Brotherhood of Grape. Fante manages to build this story into a deeply moving work in which full catharsis only comes through the death of the father (of guess what?: diabetes through too much booze). 



Fante's writing is punchy and gloriously descriptive, and at times farcically funny. And his works are always short and powerful. Give them a try, and you won't regret the experience.

Read on....
Bibliography of John Fante (thanks to Wiki)