Published here for the first time, this text presents a collection of recently-discovered stories by John Fante.
Fante, who died in 1983, is receiving some belated recognition for novels like Ask the Dust and Wait Until Spring, Bandini. His biographer, Stephen Cooper, has unearthed 18 previously uncollected stories that Fante wrote over 27 years, ranging from derivative and self-indulgent juvenilia to intelligent and meaningful tales of the immigrant experience. "Prologue to Ask the Dust" is essentially a pr cis of the novel, displaying a savage energy and sense of immediacy. This and several other stories bring the Los Angeles of some 60 years ago to life. In the memorable "Mary Osaka, I Love You," Filipino dishwasher Mingo Mateo falls in love with the daughter of his Japanese employer. Mingo's friends are violently opposed to the union, but Mingo and Mary argue that politics and race should not interfere with love. They elope to Las Vegas and marry on December 7, 1941. "Bus Ride" is another, tenser tale of interracial attraction, this time between a Filipino man and a European-American woman. Fante himself was Italian and there are several stories about Italian immigrants. A family in "The Bad Woman" unite to keep a son and brother from making what they believe is a bad marriage. "The Sins of the Mother" tells of a formidable matriarch who is determined that her beautiful daughter not marry a truck driver. Like many of the stories in the volume, this one echoes with understated passion, though the prose is calm and the dialogue polite. The collection is uneven, but weaker pieces are outweighed by those that show Fante's heartbreaking and precise vision in top form.