Spirit of America Bookstore

John Fante

John Fante [1909-83]             short profile

The Bandini Saga
other fiction

works about John Fante

Dan Fante


"John Fante [is] the Italian-American Hemingway."
— Fred Gardaphe

"Among the finest fiction ever written in America."
— Neil Gordon

        Born in Denver, Colorado on 8 April 1909 to an immigrant Italian bricklayer father and an extremely religious mother, John Fante's early years were spent in poverty and the anti-Italian prejudice of the time. His education led him to an absolute, insane determination to become a writer, so he dropped out of the University of Colorado in 1929 and escaped to California.

        Working menial jobs and living in boarding houses and cheap rooms, his first success was the publication of one of his short stories in H.L. Mencken's "The American Mercury" Magazine. Mencken became his friend and mentor. By 1936, Fante had developed the 'Arturo Bandini' alter-ego. His first Bandini novel, "The Road To Los Angeles", was rejected by publishers, but the second, "Wait Until Spring, Bandini", was published in 1938; two reviewers listed it as 'best novel of the year'. His third novel, "Ask The Dust" – generally considered his masterpiece – was published in 1939, and the short story collection "Dago Red" in 1940. In 1940, he married budding poet Joyce Smart, against her family's wishes.

        But Fante's rapid rise did not continue, and his next book, an epic tale of Filipino migrant workers, "The Little Brown Brothers", was rejected. Book and short story sales did not make a living – he and Joyce eventually had four children – so Fante took jobs writing for Hollywood studios, which he described as "the most disgusting job in Christ's kingdom".

        Twelve years went by before another Fante book was published, "Full of Life", an atypical work which was ironically a best-seller and a popular 1956 feature film, starring John Conte & Judy Holliday. His success in Hollywood was substantial, though many of his scripts were never produced, and Fante moved his family into a home in Malibu.

        But his creative life was still hell for many years, and in 1955 he was diagnosed with diabetes, resulting in the amputation of a leg and then blindness in 1978. In 1980, poet Charles Bukowski sent his publisher, Black Sparrow Press, a copy of "Ask The Dust" and demanded republication of Fante's book as a condition of publication of further Bukowski work. The rediscovery of Fante's work and the revival of his reputation revitalised him, and even though blind and seriously ill, Fante dictated "Dreams From Bunker Hill" to his wife, and lived to see it published.

        John Fante died 8 May 1983. Since that time, all of his books – even those previously rejected by publishers – have been and still are in print. An acclaimed biography by Stephen Cooper was published in May of 2000, followed by "The John Fante Reader" in February 2002. And a major studio film of "Ask The Dust" was released in March 2006.

The Saga of Arturo Bandini

Wait Until Spring, Bandini novel by John Fante  "Wait Until Spring, Bandini" [April 1938]
Black Sparrow Press 9x6 pb [4/83] for $11.20
Black Sparrow hardcover [4/83] for $17.50
Wait Until Spring, Bandini movie  Zoetrope "Bandini" feature film [Europe Dec 1989, USA June 1990]
Written & directed by Dominique Deruddere; starring Joe Mantegna, Ornella Muti, & Faye Dunaway, with Michael Bacall as Arturo
Region 1 DVD not available; Warner Bros. color VHS [1/93] for $17.41
full credits from IMDb
Road To L.A. novel by John Fante  "The Road To Los Angeles" [1985]
Black Sparrow Press 9x6 pb [12/85] for $11.70
Ask The Dust novel by John Fante  "Ask The Dust" [1939]
Harper Perennial pb [4/2006] for $10.36
Black Sparrow Press 9x6 pb [6/80] for $11.70
Canongate Crime pb [3/99] out of print/used
Black Sparrow 9¼x6.4 hardcover [12/82] for $17.50
Black Sparrow limited edition pb [12/91] out of print/used
Ask The Dust movie  "Ask The Dust" feature film [Paramount March 2006]
Written & directed by Robert Towne; starring Colin Farrell, Salma Hayek & Donald Sutherland
Paramount widescreen color DVD [7/2006] for $26.99
full credits from IMDb • official movie website
watch official trailer [2:19] online at YouTube
watch full movie [fuzzy 10/2015 upload; 2:08:43] online at YouTube
Dreams From Bunker Hill novel by John Fante  "Dreams From Bunker Hill" [1982]
Black Sparrow Press 9x6 pb [3/82] for $10.50
Black Sparrow hardcover [3/82] out of print/used

L i n k s
browse John Fante books at Amazon.com
John Fante credits [1935-2006]at Internet Movie Database
John Fante entry at Wikipedia

John Fante site in French
John Fante site in Italian
English/Italian website about both John & Dan Fante
John Fante site with photographs
'Junebug Online' article by Russell Roca
'New Times L.A.' article by Gerald Nicosia
'Salon' article by Neil Gordon
Darwin's John Fante fansite

Other Fiction

Dago Red / Wine of Youth stories by John Fante  "The Wine of Youth: Selected Stories" [published in 1940 as 'Dago Red']
Time Magazine called it 'best story collection of the year'
Black Sparrow Press 9x6 pb [12/84] for $11.20
Black Sparrow hardcover [1/85] out of print/used
Tales For Males stories  "Tales For Males: Selected For Man's Enjoyment" [1945]
Edited by Ed Fitzgerald

Cadillac Publng hardcover [1/45] out of print/rare
stories by Konrad Bercovici, James M. Cain, Morley Callaghan, George S. Chappell, John Collier, Clarence Day Jr., John Fante, W.C. Fields, Corey Ford, Benjamin Franklin, C.A. Hamilton, Fred C. Kelly, Arthur Kober, Ring Lardner, Dorothy Parker, William Saroyan, Bernard Sobel, Donald Ogden Stewart, Frank Sullivan, James Thurber, George Weller and others
Full of Life novel by John Fante  
"Full of Life" [1952]
Black Sparrow Press 9x6 pb [2/88] for $10.50
Black Sparrow 9x6 hardcover [2/88] for $20.00
Black Sparrow limited edition hardcover [10/87] out of print/used
Full of Life video  "Full of Life" hit movie [Columbia Dec 1956]
Directed by Richard Quine; script by John Fante from his novel; starring Richard Conte & Judy Holliday; nominated by W.G.A. for 'Best Comedy Script'
Columbia/TriStar b&w VHS [7/98] out of stock/rare
full credits from IMDb
Brotherhood of The Grape by John Fante  "The Brotherhood of The Grape" [1977]
Black Sparrow Press 9x6 pb [12/88] for $10.50
Black Sparrow 9.4x6½ hardcover [4/88] for $25.00
Black Sparrow Press limited edition hardcover [7/88] out of print/used
1933 Was A Bad Year by John Fante  "1933 Was A Bad Year" [1985]
Black Sparrow Press 9x6 pb [9/85] for $10.40
Black Sparrow hardcover [11/85] out of print/used
West of Rome stories by John Fante  "West of Rome: Two Novellas" [1986]
includes 'My Dog Stupid' & 'The Orgy']
Black Sparrow Press 9x6 pb [12/86] for $10.40
Black Sparrow 9x5¾ hardcover [10/95] for $25.00
Big Hunger stories by John Fante  "The Big Hunger: Stories, 1932-1959" [2000]
Black Sparrow Press 9x6 pb [3/2000] for $11.90
Black Sparrow 9.4x6.3 hardcover [3/2000] for $21.00

Motion Picture & Television Scripts
John Fante credits [1935-2006] at Internet Movie Database

"Dinky" [1935; co-writer]
Starring Jackie Cooper & Mary Astor; credits from IMDb

"East of the River" {aka 'Mama Ravioli'} [1940; co-writer]
Directed by Alfred E. Green, starring John Garfield; credits from IMDb

"Youth Runs Wild" [1944; co-writer]
Directed by Mark Robson; credits from IMDb

"My Man and I" [1952; co-writer]
Directed by William A. Wellman; credits from IMDb

Full of Life video  "Full of Life" hit movie [Columbia Dec 1956]
Directed by Richard Quine; script by John Fante from his novel; starring Richard
Conte & Judy Holliday; W.G.A. nomination for 'Best Comedy Script'
Columbia/TriStar b&w VHS [7/98] out of stock/used
full credits from IMDb
"Jeanne Eagels" [1957; co-writer]
Directed by George Sidney, starring Kim Novak; credits from IMDb

Walk Wildside  "Walk On The Wildside" [1962]
Directed by [blacklistee] Edward Dmytryk (and Blake Edwards);
starring Laurence Harvey, Capucine & Barbara Stanwyck
Region 1 DVD not available; Columbia/TriStar b&w VHS [1/99] out of prodn/used
full credits from IMDb

"The Reluctant Saint" [1962; co-writer]
Directed by Edward Dmytryk; music by Nino Rota, starring Maximillian Schell, Ricardo Montalban,
Lea Padovani & Akim Tamiroff • full credits from IMDb

"My Six Loves" [1963; co-writer]
Debbie Reynolds musical comedy; credits from IMDb

Maya movie  "Maya" [King Brothers/M.G.M. June 1966]
An American boy in India runs away after a fight with his father. Directed by John Berry; script by John Fante & Gilbert Wright, based on a novel by Lois Roth & Jalal Din; starring Clint Walker, Jay North & Sajid Kahn • full credits from IMDb
Warner Archive color DVD-R [10/2012] for $19.99
Warner Bros. color VHS [12/94] out of prodn/used

"Something For A Lonely Man" [1968; co-writer]
TV Western; credits from IMDb

Works  About  John  Fante

Fante & Mencken Correspondence  "John Fante & H.L. Mencken: A Personal Correspondence, 1930-1952" [1989]
Edited by Michael Moreau & Joyce Fante

Black Sparrow Press pb [1/89] out of print/used
Black Sparrow hardcover [8/89] out of print/used

Spirit of America's H.L. Mencken [1880-1956] Page

John Fante Letters  "John Fante: Selected Letters, 1932-1981" [1991]
Edited by Seamus Cooney

Black Sparrow Press 9x5¾ pb [3/91] for $15.00
Black Sparrow Press hardcover [6/91] for $25.00
Black Sparrow Press ltd edition hardcover [3/91] for $35.00
John Fante / Critical Gathering book  "John Fante: A Critical Gathering" [1999]
Edited by Stephen Cooper & David M. Fine

Fairleigh Dickenson hardcover [9/99] for $33.50
John Fante Literary Portrait book by Richard Collins  "John Fante: A Literary Portrait" [1999]
by Richard Collins

Guernica Editions pb [12/99] for $18.00
John Fante Novels / Novellas book by Catherine J. Kordich  "John Fante: His Novels & Novellas (Twayne's U.S. Authors Series)" [2000]
by Catherine J. Kordich

Twayne Publrs 8¾x5¾ hardcover [6/2000] for $35.00
John Fante bio by Cooper  "Full of Life: A Biography of John Fante" [2000]
by Stephen Cooper

North Point Press 8¼x5½ pb [4/2001] for $10.50
North Point 9x6 hardcover [5/2000] out of print/used
John Fante Reader edited by Stephen Cooper  "The John Fante Reader" [2002] Edited by Stephen Cooper
listed in 'Los Angeles Times Best Books of the West 2002'
contains Preface, "Home Confessions", "Days of Fever", "A Time of Dream and Reverie", "I Must Remember To Face It", Letters, Bibliography
Kindle Edition from HarperCollins e-books [9/2010] for $7.99
Harper Perennial 9x6 pb [1/2003] for $14.95
Wm. Morrow 9½x6½ hardcover [2/2002] out of print/many used

recent photo of author Dan Fante      works  by  John's  son
Dan  Fante

official website
June 2003 3am Magazine interview
Dan Fante entry at Wikipedia

"Boiler Room: A Play" {aka "The Closer"} [1998]
not published in the U.S.

Chump Change  "Chump Change" [middle of trilogy; 1998]
Released from a Bronx nuthouse, alcoholic Bruno travels to Malibu, hoping for his dying writer father's love & admiration.
Sun Dog Press 9x6 pb [6/98] for $10.78
Mooch   "Mooch" [third of trilogy; 2001]
After his father's death, Bruno gets his life straightened out – sobriety & AA and a steady job – but then he meets a Latina femme fatale and his life is soon back in free fall.
Canongate Books 8½x5¼ pb [8/2001] for $10.01
Spitting Off Tall Buildings  "Spitting Off Tall Buildings" [first of trilogy; 2002]
Hard-drinking aspiring playwright Bruno suffers a series of dead-end jobs, in this comic novel reminiscent of Charles Bukowski and of {the author's father} John Fante.
Canongate Books 8½x6.4 pb [8/2002] out of print/used
Collected Poems of Dan Fante  "A Gin-Pissing-Raw-Meat-Dual-Carburetor-V8-Son-of-A-Bitch From Los Angeles: Collected Poems, 1983-2002" [2002]
Foreward by Joyce Fante

Sun Dog Press 9x6¼ hardcover [8/2002] for $15.95
Corks*cker stories  "Corks*cker: Cab Driver Stories From The L.A. Streets"
[8 short stories; 2005]

Wrecking Ball Press pb [8/2005] out of print/scarce
publisher website
appears to be the same as later-published "Short Dog" stories
Short Dog stories  "Short Dog: Cab Driver Stories From The L. A. Streets"
[8 short stories; 2006]

Sun Dog Press pb [3/2006] for $11.20
appears to be renamed 2nd edition of "Corks*cker" stories of 2005
Don Giovanni play  "Don Giovanni: A Play" [2006]
A once-great novelist turned Hollywood hack confronts his failing health and his profoundly dysfunctional family.
Burning Shore Press pb [4/2006] for $14.00
Kissed By A Fat Waitress book by Dan Fante  "Kissed By A Fat Waitress: New Poems" [2008]
Sun Dog Press 8¾x5¾ pb [3/2008] for $14.65
86'd novel by Dan Fante  "86'd: A Novel" [2009]
Struggling telemarketer-slash-writer Bruno's publisher has put his next book on hold; Bruno sobers up and lands a job as a limo driver, but is soon back on the booze.
Harper Perennial 8x5¾ pb [9/2009] for $10.07

Online sales in association with  browse John Fante books at Amazon

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