In Los Angeles, struggling telemarketer-writer and part-time drunk Bruno Dante is jobless again. The publication of his book of short stories has been put off indefinitely. Searching the want ads for a gig, he finds a chauffeur job. When Bruno calls the number in the ad, he discovers the boss is his former Manhattan employer David Koffman, who is opening a West Coast branch of his thriving limo service. Koffman hires Bruno as resident manager of Dav-Ko Hollywood under one condition: he must remain sober. But instant business success triggers an abrupt booze-and-blackout-soaked downward spiral for Bruno, forcing him to confront his own madness as he struggles to keep his old familiar demons from getting the best of him yet again.
Fante continues to follow in the literary footsteps of his famous father, John Fante (Ask the Dust), with another bruising autobiographical novel about his alter ego, Bruno Dante. When the publication of his short story collection is delayed indefinitely, Dante reluctantly returns to his previous career of L.A. limo driver. His boss, however, first insists that he sober up. He does, and launches into a downward cycle of recovery and inebriation. During his descent, he meets an obnoxious Hollywood producer interested in an adaptation of one of Dante's stories and an Old Hollywood matriarch who might be the key to his salvation. Fante puts Dante though many harrowing moments--waking from a blackout with a gash in his neck; having a spurned lover superglue his penis to his thigh. Like his late father, Fante views life in unsparing fashion, but he seems a little too enamored of his alter ego's downhill trajectory while offering very little insight into the source of Dante's personal demons. The result is a novel that disappointingly titillates more than it illuminates. (Oct.)
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September 20, 2009
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