This interview was first published in year 2000 after Dan Fante’s Mooch came out.
Q: I’ve just finished to read your “Mooch”… seems that you’ve somewhat changed your style: less thought and more action… less John and more Dan… is this only an impression or you can confirm it?
A: Actually, in Mooch my objective was a bit different than in Chump Change. As a writer I am trying to get more “out of the way” of my writing. To be more direct. The styles of my father and myself are similar but, our objectives as writers are quite different.
Q: Seems that the Fantes always fall in love of the wrong woman (in fiction I mean): Arturo Bandini of Camilla Lopez and Bruno Dante of Jimmi Valiente… also we could draw a parallel between Vera Rivken and Cynthia…
A: That’s a coincidence. Both my father and I had difficult relationships with women. He had one – I’m still having them. In Mooch I was writing about obsession – Bruno Dante’s obsession – driven by alcoholism. On the surface, there seems to be a similarity but the character’s motives and problems, are different.
Q: What have you learned from your father’s style? Who other (writer, singer, movie director…) and in which sense did influence your way of writing?
A: Hubert Selby Jr. Jack London. Eugene O’Neill.
Q: In a letter dated 1960 from Rome John said: “You write a very nice letter, by the way -clean, clear statements, direct and to the point. Maybe you’re a writer too, like myself. Think about it…” When did you begin writing?
A: I began writing – became sane enough to write – at the age of forty-two.
Q: “Mooch” begins (after the dedication to your brother) with a quote from the Holy Bible… are you catholic?
A: The bible is a source of great inspiration to me. It is a textbook of metaphysics. Within the bible are keys to personal growth, and lessons in personal actualization. The bible is a spiritual masterpiece.
Q: Both in “Chump Change” and in “Mooch” Bruno Dante enters a second-hand bookshop asking for John Fante’s books? Why? Is it just a way to remember your father in your books or you really do it sometimes?
A: When I go into a bookstore I always look for books by John Fante. If they are out-of-stock on one of his titles, I tell the clerk to order what is missing. I do it because I want people to read my father’s work.
Q: What do you think about literary criticism: do you like your style being compared to Charles Bukowski’s?
A: I am a better writer than Bukowski. Literary criticism is generally bunk. Nonsense. Usually based on self-serving post-intellectual bullshit. Look at the people who review. Look at their commitment to being “right” and “safe”. If I had listened to my critics I would have given up years ago.
Q: Seems that among your father’s books you prefer “Ask the Dust”. Is it correct? Why?
A: I do prefer Ask the Dust. It is not my father’s best book but it grabs the reader better then his other books. With Ask the Dust he became un-pigeonholed as just an Italian-American writer. It is a brilliant book and it has changed countless lives.
Q: In your books you describe a world that seems to be full of zombies… all “people” are, even if they seem to be not, rotten. What is your definition of “people” in this particular sense? Who are the “zombies” and who are the “humans”?
A: In my books I describe a man whose perception is twisted by his mind and alcoholism. Sick people “attract” sick people.
Q: What about poetry: who are the poets you love most?
A: Yes: Billy Childish of England is a great contemporary poet. I also like Mallay. I like cummings. I like Yeats too.
Q: You said that you’re going to publish a book of poems… could you anticipate some few verses for the site?
A: I will send a few poems as an “attachment” here.
Go to Dan Fante’s poems index!!
Q: Do you read a lot? What are you reading now?
A: I do read. But, like my father, I am very impatient. I have a strong bullshit detector. I may finish one book in twenty that I have started.
Q: Which are your ideal working conditions? Do you write every day? Morning or evening?
A: I write every morning. Two hours. Then I take a break and become my own secretary for a few hours. If I am “hot” I write in the afternoon and at night too.
Q: How long did it take to write “Mooch”?
A: I took three years to write Mooch.
Q: Do you have an editor?
A: I have no editor. Up to now none has ever suggested that I edit anything other than my awful spelling and sentence structure.
Q: What are you working on now, further to poems?
A: I am working on the screenplay for Chump Change.
Q: Were you bored by these questions?
A: No. They were, for the most part, what I think your readers want to know. Someday, as an exercise, you might ask a writer to give himself the questions he wants to answer. If you really want a writer’s opinions, you have to ask for them. What you read might surprise you.
Thanks for your interest in my work and the work of John Fante.