My last five years have been kind of nutty, a blur of hospitals and unemployment and under-employment and bad movies and unfinished books I’m racing the grim reaper to complete. I don’t keep up with popular culture the way I once did, so I keep finding that folks I like have died months or even years ago. Recent case in point: director Jonathan Demme.
Today’s “Goddamnit, I didn’t know HE died” example is writer Dan Fante, who died at the age of 71 a couple of years ago.
He was a writer of books inspired by the sordid events in his own life. He was the son of writer John (ASK THE DUST) Fante, who was beloved by Charles Bukowski. I can take or leave Bukowski–like Hunter S. Thompson, he’s someone I can appreciate while thinking he’s overrated and a bit of a snore–but Fante Sr. was a fine writer of the down-and-almost-out.
If you want to know what Fante’s son was capable of, you should read CHUMP CHANGE.
“Bruno Dante” is in quite a state of despair. He wakes up in a porn theater getting a blowjob from a dude, a surprising situation for our straight narrator, not so surprising when we learn what an alcoholic he is. His estranged wife helps him limp back home to deal with the impending death of his father. In the days that follow, Bruno calls his shrink, ends up with an underage hooker, watches old movies, and carries on like a character in a John Fante novel, wanting to be better but not really trying very hard as he marches toward his father’s inevitable doom.
Just read it. I’m too pissed off to explain why.