The prestigious New York Times Review of Books gives Dan Fante’s “Short Dog” a favorable review. Dan’s writing works the same territory as did his father, John Fante, who Charles Bukowski cited as a major influence. This is tough stuff, sometimes bleak – the slime outside and the slime within. But there’s always an edge of humor to his work and more importantly, at heart, it’s about survivors who, while they may stumble, never give up.
Like Bukowski, the younger Fante is embraced in France as an authentic literary outlaw. “Short Dog” delivers eight blunt, unsparing episodes from Bruno’s brief career as a Los Angeles taxi driver. Forced into their cars by the city’s topology and sprawl, Angelenos tend to view the world through the proscenium arch of the windshield, framing the city like a movie screen. This mobile voyeurism, cynical and alienated, helped inspire the hard-boiled literary style so closely associated with Los Angeles. But unlike prototypical Los Angeles tough guys like Raymond Chandler’s idealistic private eye Philip Marlowe, the flawed Bruno Dante traverses Los Angeles’s mean streets only to confront the corruption and degeneracy within himself.
I’ve known Dan for 20 years and blogged about him in May when “Short Dog” was released. After 16 years of writing, he’s now getting major recognition. Good!