Dan Fante has worked as a door-to-door salesman, taxi driver, private eye, chauffeur, and telemarketer. He has also established himself as a successful playwright and author, writing novels based on his experience as a recovering alcoholic.
Several of Fante's novels revolve around his fictional alter ego, Bruno Dante, a character who resembles Fante in many ways — but has not yet achieved sobriety. In Fante's novel 86'd, Dante starts writing as a result of entering a 12 Step program, a process that Fante also went through.
"I stumbled on a guy who had many years of sobriety and recovery, and he gave me this format of writing what's called an inventory in the 12 steps, the fourth step," he tells Terry Gross. "And his form of inventory was to write the story of my life an hour a day for 12 consecutive days at exactly the same time every morning and not to look back. And when I was done, to call him and read it to him.... And it occurred to me a couple of years later that I couldn't write a novel, but I might be able to write a page a day from that exercise. And you know, I'm working on my 10th book right now. So I don't write books. I write pages."
Fante also discusses what it was like to grow up the son of postmodern author John Fante.
"We started out disliking each other, and tolerating each other," Fante says. "My father was a ... tough guy ... his father was an abusive drunk and so, you know, I just — my father was an artist. He was just not connected to the planet and the only thing that connected him ... were his two moods: One was angry and the other was angrier, you know."
Fante is the author of several books, including Chump Change, and Short Dog. Two of his earlier novels, Spitting Off Tall Buildings and Mooch have recently been rereleased.
The story was first broadcast September 29, 2009.