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Download West of Rome epub

by John Fante

West of Rome's two novellas, "My Dog Stupid" and "The Orgy," fulfill the promise of their rousing titles. The latter novella opens with virtuoso description: "His name was Frank Gagliano, and he did not believe in God. He was that most singular and startling craftsman of the building trade-a left-handed bricklayer. Like my father, Frank came from Torcella Peligna, a cliff-hugging town in the Abruzzi. Lean as a spider, he wore a leather cap and puttees the year around, and he was so bowlegged a dog could lope between his knees without touching them."

Download West of Rome epub
ISBN: 0876856776
ISBN13: 978-0876856772
Category: Literature
Subcategory: United States
Author: John Fante
Language: English
Publisher: Ecco (May 30, 2002)
Pages: 192 pages
ePUB size: 1837 kb
FB2 size: 1499 kb
Rating: 4.7
Votes: 151
Other Formats: mbr doc rtf mobi

I first read Fante some 25 years ago through, of course, the Bukowski connection and I was not disappointed. I bought and read a half dozen Fante books. Then, for some odd reason, I forgot about him. Until recently. Lately, I’ve been pulling some of those old Fante books off the shelf and rediscovering them and reminding myself why I liked reading him in the first place. With that in mind, I ordered this book, West of Rome, which is an odd pairing of two novellas, “My Dog Stupid” and “The Orgy.” The first one, at close to 150 pages, is nearly novel length itself while the latter, at only about 50 pages, is closer to a long short story. And they are very dissimilar and fit oddly together. Which doesn’t make them bad. Not at all. I just wouldn’t read them together at one sitting.

West Of Rome contains the usual gritty, passionate prose Fante is known for, while also, particularly in the first novella, containing the usual rough comedy about difficult situations and people placed in awkward situations and how they deal with them. There’s also the usual explosive display of emotions. In “My Dog Stupid,” Henry Molise and family discover a 120 pound Akita lying in the yard in the rain seemingly near death. They nurse it back to health, place ads notifying the public of having found a lost dog in the papers, and come to grips with the fact that the dog seems to have adopted them. He’s big, strong, a little mean, a little bit loyal, very “passionate” (read horny), gay as the ace of spades (thus, much of the humor), and they name him “Stupid” by default. He humps any and everything that moves, especially if it’s male. Male dogs, male humans, male anything. He becomes known as the community rapist. He humiliates the community bully/watch dog, the regal German Shepard, by trying his best to rape it into submission. It’s hilarious and frightening at the same time.

Molise, meanwhile, is a middle aged failed writer, screenwriter and novelist, who has done nothing of note in some time, living in Malibu with his demanding wife and four grown kids, most all of whom are deadbeats in one way or another. He dreams of selling everything he has and running away to Rome to start over again. He dreams, too, of the kids getting out of the house and letting he and his wife get on with their lives. And so it comes to pass. Their complete spoiled b**** daughter, who’s living the good life with an ex-Marine beach bum while in their house, gets ticked off at Molise because of the dog and leaves. A son, who dates only black women, which frustrates his racist mother to no end, ends up introducing his parents to a black girlfriend who calls them Mom and Dad, to their horror. Later they get a late night call telling them to come down to Venice Beach and when they arrive at their destination, this woman opens the door and there they find their son, badly beaten. They take him away, take him back home, where the son later tells his father that the black girl is his wife and she is pregnant and she beat him up and they fought over what to do about the pregnancy; he wanted to keep the child. Another son has been trying to avoid the military for years, trying to get out due to medical “problems” of one sort or another through quack doctors, and Stupid inadvertently helps when the boy kicks the dog several times when the dog pins the ex-Marine against a wall to hump him and the dog bites the son in the leg. He goes to a doctor, winds up on crutches, and weeks later, unable to "walk," gets his military walking papers and is miraculously "healed." The fourth child, a son, is a college student who has his mother write all of his English papers for him. It’s especially funny when she gets extremely upset at getting a C on a paper that she did her very best on. However, to their shock and horror, he is thrown out of the college due to lack of attendance and when they confront him, they discover he has been volunteering at a poor community children’s disabled center. But the draft board has called for him and now he is terrified. Naive, he is convinced his good deeds will get him off. His father knows better. And to top things off, the man in charge of the board is someone they had a confrontation with on the beach a few months previously because Stupid tried to rape him too. Needless to say, Molise’s son is in the army in a heartbeat. His one request? Take care of Stupid. Who immediately disappears, nowhere to be found. The parents freak out. And as the climax of the novella approaches, the tension mounts and what was previously an incredibly funny work becomes less so as all of these rather serious life crises have taken their toll on the family, as these lies and pretensions have been lifted and erased. What starts out very funny becomes nearly sad, and at times, quite touching. It takes a gift to be able to make that type of a transition in a short work such as this and pull it off successfully, yet Fante does. It’s truly an excellent work.

“The Orgy” is very different. It’s told from the innocent eyes of a ten year old boy in Boulder, Colorado, the son of an extremely devout Catholic mother and a poor, hard working Italian father whose best friend and workmate is an atheist, much to his wife’s horror and disgust. One of the men, an older black man, who works for the boy’s father dabbles in penny stocks and one day makes a small fortune. He quits, but in a seemingly nice gesture, gives the boy’s father a certificate of ownership to a small gold mine in the mountains north of them. As the man wouldn’t be able to mine on his own, he takes his friend, Frank, as a partner and they start heading off to mine on the weekends, with little luck. The story then centers around one particular weekend when the mother forces her husband to take the son with them to the mine for the weekend and the ultimate loss of innocence that boy encounters along the way. There are moments of humor, but not nearly anything like in the first novella, and in all candor, this work, while decent, pales in comparison to the first and probably shouldn’t have been placed alongside it. It’s bound to be found lacking when compared to the former. It’s good, but merely average when compared to the excellent “Stupid.”

This book was published shortly after Fante’s death in the early 1980s. It’s not his best work, but I’m certainly glad to have it in my library and I think it’s definitely worth four stars. Recommended for anyone who enjoys unpretentious, “real,” funny literature from the author Bukowski admired the most.
John Fante talent was not has yet to be fully realized. West of Rome is even better than his Ask the Dust the Book that brought him finally some notice posthumously. I highly recommend reading Fante material especially West of Rome. For Bukowski fans their a must . Enjoy .
Not that I don't love reading about Fante's alter ego, it's just a nice change of pace. Although this is yet another alter ego, just with a different name. The narrative of an older writer with four adult children that live with him and his wife. Not sure how much this resembles his real life, i have the feeling, like much of his other work, that the story closely resembles his life. My favorite character is a seemingly homosexual rogue dog that comes to make his home with the writer, much to the displeasure of his wife and daughter. The story does take a strange left turn and veers suddenly in the last part of the book back to the narrators childhood(colorado again). Still, the best Fante book I've read, though I need to read Ask the Dust again(it's been to many years). Cheers!!
Two great stories by the master Fante. I will read this again in the future. Added bonus: nice cover design.
thank you
In the first few pages, the main character tries to drive home in a dense fog after a night of drinking, but can't find his house, calls his wife to lead him home and then has three drinks before having a talk with his son. The author seemed to be using drinking as a crutch, to give his character something to do rather than developing the character.
After reading the classic tale of Arturo Bandini's struggle against the world in "Ask the Dust," I continued to buy Fante novel after Fante novel hoping to find that bellicose charm and straight forward prose that made me laugh out loud. However, 1933 was a Bad Year, Full of Life and Dreams of Bunker Hill did't quite make the cuts. As I read these novels I felt Fante somehow wasn't up to the task of telling the tale all the way through. There wasn't that Bandiniesque immediacy, the unique voice frought with passion and toughness. Well, the first novella in this two novella collection, "My Dog Stupid", has that Ask the Dust magic. Bandini By the Tail. Its Bandini against big dogs, sons in laws, uptight Hollywood lawyers and thankless children. But it isn't without it's heart-warming qualities that shows Fante has mellowed with age like a fine port without losing any of his potency. Always good for a laugh, a smile, a "Hurrah", Fante holds a special place in the American canon. I once said to my wife Graham Greene can write and plot circles around Fante, but if what Emerson said is true that "character is higher than intellect", then no wonder Fante is the guy you want to polish off a bottle with.
John Fante was a great writer. I was introduced to his books through Charles Bukowski. I have read most of his available works. West of Rome is a great book. It contains two novellas. The first one My Dog Stupid is a glorious tale. Fante really captures the feeling of Italian Americans in the early part of the 20th Century. Some may not like the ethnicity but to me it lends a heartrending realism to the stories. The reader will probably feel the emotions of the characters as they tackle life problems. (I almost feel like Bill Clinton here: I feel your pain, man) The story revolves around a family with kids finally grown and setting out for life and their parents adapting to the changes. The dog that enters into their life becomes a motif for the changes in their world. It is a beautiful tale. The second story The Orgy is not as good but it is still classic Fante. This is a grossly underrated writer.