Sean Maher's Quality Control

Friday, August 12, 2005

John Fante: Making Bukowski look silly

So, I'm a little scattered. Also, I'm a bit nervous. Tonight is my first solo Friday at Aziza, and only my 7th day as a professional bartender. I'm gonna be slammed like a hooker on Easter Sunday. Should be a lot of fun, of course, but I just hope I don't fall too far behind and create problems for the servers, my partners in arms. It's gonna require the sum total of my bartending powers, my concentration spread across the restaurant like the arms of an octopus with with the focus of a hawk, and the endurance of a monkey and the eyes of a spider, and maybe those cool butt web things so I can grab shit from the kitchen without running all the way back there.

My good friend Josh Richardson got a big fat promotion from Larry Young. Very cool, and it couldn't happen to a more dedicated, enthusiastic fellow. If there's somebody with a more balls out, hard core love for comics, I don't know him yet. And you guys are all screwed, because I have his very first professional autograph, from The Expatriate #1.

There are a couple good books out there that aren't in comics form. Among them are the works of Mr. John Fante. If you've read any of Bukowski's poetry collections, you've probably seen him name Fante his favorite writer about two dozen times. Well, the guy is really, really great. You've all read Bukowski, yes? If not, go read some. Get Ham On Rye or Tales of Ordinary Madness, or Last Night of the Earth Poems if you'd rather hit the poetry beat.

Once you've done that - and you really should, 'cause everybody's gotta have a "Bukowski Phase" (just ask Ed Brubaker) - pick up some John Fante. The guy has a very similar syle, but where Bukowski is alienated and nihilistic and drunk, Fante is an explosive, passionate force, always flying in the face of his challenges and trying desperately to connect to the people around him, making a fool of himself, flying off the handle with one magnificently sprawling emotion or another, pushing, always, always pushing for something even when he's totally lost and confused. There's something palpably Italian in there, a cultural vibe that comes through loud and clear without making a big to-do of it. He's an emotionally powerful, often hilarious writer with a bare bones style that really knocks me out. My favorites are Ask The Dust (his most famous book, about being a penniless writer in Los Angeles and falling for a crazy Mexican girl), The Brotherhood of the Grape (about his aging father and his wine buddies), and Full of Life (about his wife's pregnancy and his house falling apart).

Trust me. This is wonderful writing.

Enjoy the weekend, and wish me luck.


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