Fante's Abruzzese people

il Centro
Cultura & Società
28 january 1998

Marcos y Marcos publishes a new book written by the writer who passed away in 1983
Seven tales, never published before in Italy, in "Il Dio di mio padre"
by Paolo Di Vincenzo

book cover "I come from Abruzzi, father. From Torcelli Peligna." Father Ramponi seemed surprised. "Really? Well, how could I get the idea you were from Florence instead?" It is one of the most topical moments in John Fante's "My father's God." Torcelli Peligna is of course Torricella Peligna, the village where Fante's parents were born. The book, which was recently published by Marcos y Marcos (125 pages, 22,000 Lire), contains seven stories, never published before in Italy, by the author of the Bandini saga, a cult writer with thousands of fans, from Charles Bukowski to Sandro Veronesi.

The passage quoted above recounts the meeting between the protagonist's father and the new parish priest of Santa Caterina, Boulder, Colorado. "My Father's God" is the title of the story after which the whole collection is known. John Fante's themes are often similar, but always fascinating. It is not by chance that his writing is loved by writers, and by all those who can appreciate good writing.

Often autobiographical, frequently set against a background reminiscent not only of Colorado, where the author was born in 1909, but also of his parents' mountainous Abruzzo, very often with explicit mentions of Torricella Peligna, Fante's pages tell about emigrants (not only from Italy), the cumbersome hardships of their lives, especially in the Thirties and Forties, the American dream, the baseball myths, the burning wish for a redemption from a hard, almost always poor existence. But always, as Charles Bukowski said, "Fante writes with his guts, for the guts, with his heart and for the heart".

Also in these seven short stories of the collection published by Marcos y Marcos "A Nun No More", "My Father's God", "Scoundrel", "In the Springs", "One-Play Oscar", "The Dreamer", "Helen, Thy Beauty Is to Me" there are pages of great intensity, poignant in their brevity.

The first three are somehow connected, the relationship to the father (this too an autobiographical element) is emphasized, as it also happens in "In the Springs" which seems a preparation to "1933 Was A Bad Year" (published posthumously by Joyce, the writer's wife, after his death in 1983 ). Here too the protagonist is a kid who believes he will have a great future in baseball and escapes from the small town where he lives with his father, a mason. "Un gioco solo per l'Oscar" is almost epic, a metaphor of the above mentioned clash of races (the parents of the Italian, Yugoslavian, Polish, German, Chinese and Japanese kids try to forbid them from playing together, owing to their different prejudices) which is reconciled later in the football team, meaningfully called "All Americans", which becomes irresistible. The final two stories tell about the unfortunate Philippine community, with so much in common to the Italian and Abruzzese communities.

English translation by P. Badia, English editing by Albert Porreca