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Buy *Fante: A Family's Legacy of Writing, Drinking and Surviving* by Dan Fante online

Fante: A Family's Legacy of Writing, Drinking and Surviving
Dan Fante
416 pages
August 2011
rated 4 1/2 of 5 possible stars

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Ever think about what it would be like to be the offspring of a famous parent? Sounds like a walk through paradise, but it wasn't quite all roses and fluff for Dan Fante, son of the renowned writer John Fante. In fact, the young Fante suffered from depression, alcoholism, addiction and horrible self-esteem living beneath the shadow of his legendary father. It was a terrible life filled with failures, dead ends and defeat, but one that ultimately turned around when Dan found his own voice as a writer and stepped out from under his father's oppressive life force.

In this beautifully written book, the younger Fante details life with his famous father. It was no easy task; John was a forbidding and strict man whose womanizing and drinking is revealed here. Dan found a release in tapping into his own imagination, and at the age of 10 was scribbling down stories about Indians, murders, shootouts and slashings. His mother encouraged and supported her young son, but papa never offered a word of encouragement. Dan Fante details the moment:

The three of us sat down one evening after dinner and I opened my notebook and began to unload one of my yarns of bank robbery, muder and gunslinging. When I was done and looked up, my mother was smiling, "Good for you, Banny boy. You have a great imagination."

John Fante, sitting with his arms folded, flicked the ash off his cigarette. "Look, kid," he said, "you need to concentrate on your goddamn schoolwork. Your mother tells me that you got four D's on your last report card. That's an abomination. Face it, you're no genius. My recommendation is that you forget about this crap and concentrate on getting passing marks in school."
Decades would pass before John ever lent an encouraging word about his son's writing. The elder Fante would suffer from diabetes and succumb to multiple amputations, blindness and a sort of dementia brought on by the disease. In these end days, Dan was finally able to make peace with his father.

This memoir is one of Dan Fante's finest books. Chump Change, his first novel, was a killer, but his writing here reveals a man truly finding his own voice and style. There aren't many writers around with his gifts, and if you haven't already read this, do it now. If you've already got it on the shelf, read it again.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at Steven Rosen, 2011

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