jueves, 5 de febrero de 2009

VOCES. 2009, AÑO FANTE. Richard Collins' Biography

In his Preface to John Fante’s Ask the Dust, Charles Bukowski called the story of John Fante’s life and work “a story of terrible luck and a terrible fate and of rare and natural courage. Some day it will be told but I feel that he doesn’t want me to tell it here”. I have tried to tell it here, not as Bukowski might have told it, nor perhaps as Fante would have liked it told. But I have tried to tell it in such a way that Fante’s increasing number of readers will recongnize the creator of Jimmy Toscana, Henry J. Molise, and Arturo Bandini.

When I began this book in the mid-1980s, I spoke of Fante as a “cult” writer. What I meant was that he had a certain select audience, or rather, an audience who thought of themselves as select. What I did not mean was that Fante was a figure of camp, like Ronald Firbank, say, whose prose is precious, obscure and virtually inaccessible. No one would mistake Fante for a figure of camp. His blend of bombast and lyricism, braggadocio and sentiment, makes Fante the least pretentious of authors –which is not to say that he does not have a sophisticated literary style, only that his lyric simplicity appears effortless, a highly crafted spontaneity that might be mistaken for naivety. In the style of a good, plain-speaking friend, Fante conveys his infectious delight and sorrow in life. It was no doubt this quality of naked honesty that was being sought when, in the early 1980s, ads starting showing up in the personals seeking others readers of John Fante. Few writers inspire that kind of affection, that kind of trust. In short, what I meant by calling Fante a “cult” writer was, quite simply, that he is the kind of writer whose books tend to be pressed from one hand to another, and when one reader of Fante meets another, they nod in silent and secret understanding. Fante is one of those writers who “belong” to readers. There is a special feeling of benediction in believing that only “a few of us” are in on the secret. READ THE WHOLE BOOK HERE.


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