The genesis of "Full of life"

il Centro
Cultura & Società
16 november 1999

Wife reveals a not so glorious background
A successful book and movie
by Paolo Di Vincenzo

Among the most interesting things in John Fante's "Letters" are surely the comments of his wife Joyce, the writer's companion from 1937 to his death in 1983. Here is, for instance, what she writes with reference to "Full of life", the most rewarding novel, also under an economic perspective, for john Fante (the book was published in Italian by Mondadori in 1957 and by Fazi in 1988).

"...After a long, more or less serene period when we had money, though never very much", Joyce Fante writes, "while Fante played golf every day forgetting about his work, and I was looking after the children, in the early 1950 Fante was shocked y the idea that I was pregnant again. Our third son was still very young, and now another was on the way. He was devastated. He kept attacking me for weeks, shouting obscene remarks (...) He was not there when James was born. Afterwards, he was cold and indifferent at home, ignoring both me and the child. We were both deeply wounded by that period, for the rest of our married life, though we never mentioned it again.

Incredibly, that fourth child brought a change for the better in our lives. (...) Though in the 1950's he earned what according to today's standards would be one million dollars, Fante did not have by the end of the 1950's money enough to finance writing a new novel. Ironically "Full of life" described a solar atmosphere, with a young affectionate husband and his wife pregnant with their first child, just the opposite of what took place in our family".