ATD Question #19 - Arturo and Sammy

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ATD Question #19 - Arturo and Sammy

Unread postby Liz » Tue Dec 04, 2007 11:42 am

Pg. 118 - 120. Sammy has gone to the desert to die; and Camilla begs Arturo to help Sammy with his manuscript. At first Arturo composes a scathing letter of criticism to Sammy, seals it and is about to mail it. But then he has a change of heart:

"I stood at the mailbox, my head against it, and grieved for Sammy, and for myself, and for all the living and the dead. Forgive me, Sammy! Forgive a fool! I walked back to my room and spent three hours writing the best criticism of his work I could possibly write. I didn’t say that this was wrong or that was wrong. I kept saying, in my opinion this would be better if, and so forth, and so forth. I got to sleep about six o’clock, but it was a grateful, happy sleep. How wonderful I really was! A great, soft-spoken, gentle man, a lover of all things, men and beast alike."

What do you think these thoughts of Arturo’s reveal about him?
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Betty Sue
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Unread postby Betty Sue » Tue Dec 04, 2007 12:03 pm

I think these thoughts reveal that he truly has become empathetic. This time it isn't just his conscience or a concern for his fate in the afterlife. "Living was hard enough. Dying was a supreme task. And Sammy was soon to die." Arturo was considering the fate of all mankind and not wanting to contribute to its difficulties. Yes, it gave him a feeling of great pride, but don't we all feel pretty good when we choose the higher ground? :angel:
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Unread postby gemini » Tue Dec 04, 2007 12:41 pm

Yes, I agree Betty Sue, you summed it up well. This is one of those times when Arturo's common sense prevails over his first instinct. He has put Sammy's positon first before his own, which is a difficult thing for Arturo who is used to putting himself first. He also sees the terrible fate that has been dealt Sammy, a fellow like himself who just wants to write, and maybe his own fate someday, and feels compassion.
Last edited by gemini on Tue Dec 04, 2007 2:08 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Unread postby Liz » Tue Dec 04, 2007 12:52 pm

Well said, both of you! I think this is the point in the story where I think there might be hope for Arturo. I was actually rather surprised at his change of heart.
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Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Tue Dec 04, 2007 1:22 pm

While I agree that he did the right thing, and that was certainly an encouraging moment, the last two lines make me question if it was for all the right reasons. He is still pretty full of himself!
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Unread postby suec » Tue Dec 04, 2007 1:44 pm

Well, it's a wonderful moment, where we see just about the best of him, while the letter he was going to send is just about the worst, in my opinion. I was so relieved to see this epiphany! It is where he shows true empathy, and an understanding of the human condition. I think he shows love for his fellow man at this point and it is an important point in his life's journey. I think it's insteresting that it is inspired by the natural world, the desert and stars
I agree DIDHOT, that he is still full of himself. It is a description he has used of himself before, in commenting on how he used to feed the mouse Pedro and that he "had a philosophy in those days. I was a lover of man and beast alike, and Pedro was no exception." Feeling fairly charitable this evening, I like to think that it is the moment where it stops being a philosophy, and becomes something real, that he actually feels. On the other hand, "How wonderful I was" is a bit much!
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Unread postby gemini » Tue Dec 04, 2007 2:24 pm

DeppInTheHeartOfTexas wrote:While I agree that he did the right thing, and that was certainly an encouraging moment, the last two lines make me question if it was for all the right reasons. He is still pretty full of himself!

I mentioned a question to Dithot and she said I could thow it in where ever it seem to fit and I think she has given me the opening here with the remark about Arturo.
He is still pretty full of himself!


Since these stories are fiction but somewhat autobiographical, I keep wondering about Fante. My question is;
How does Fante (not Arturo) see himself when he is so outrageous? How does he feels about his own ego showing through in Arturo?

The Arturo quote DITHOT used in yesterdays question is one of many examples.

"Oh Bandini, talking to the reflection in the dresser mirror, what sacrifices you make for your art! You might have been a captain of industry, a merchant prince, a big league ball player, leading hitter in the American League, with an average of .415, but no! Here you are crawling through the days, a starved genius, faithful to your sacred calling. What courage you possess!"

This is not to pull attention away from Arturo's good deed in todays question, I just thought you might want to throw in how you feel about Fante when you answer.
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Unread postby fansmom » Tue Dec 04, 2007 2:55 pm

gemini wrote:Since these stories are fiction but somewhat autobiographical, I keep wondering about Fante. My question is;
How does Fante (not Arturo) see himself when he is so outrageous? How does he feels about his own ego showing through in Arturo?
Me too, gemini! I wondered that repeatedly as I read, when Fante would make me laugh aloud at Arturo's ego and inconsistencies. Surely Fante was making fun of Arturo.

Some of us have written here about feeling as though we reveal too much of our real selves in our fictional (non-Zone) writing, sometimes inadvertently. I know I told about the author of "The Kite Runner" patiently explaining that his characters are not him. I guess it's a fine line between writing what you know and making everything you write autobiographical.

Reminds me of the recent quote from Johnny about not being a true Method actor because he didn't really slit throats--that we know of!

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Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Tue Dec 04, 2007 3:00 pm

I suppose there is something of every writer in what he writes. I do hope Fante was exaggerating! I suppose it is a credit to Fante though that he is able to evoke such a strong response from the reader in regards to Arturo.

suec, I like your point about Arturo being inspired by the desert. Maybe there is hope for the boy yet!
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming -

Wow! What a ride!

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Unread postby Parlez » Tue Dec 04, 2007 5:36 pm

I think this passage shows Arturo being able to rein in his emotionality (ego) and take a larger view of the situation. I think he's pleased, too, that he's been able to use language in a way that serves that larger, more compassionate p.o.v.. Afterall, both he and Sammy are writers; language is their medium of expression. So I think Arturo discovered new words here that served him better than the old lashing out words he'd used before. By doing so, his words revealed more dimensions within himself. Such a discovery would be very gratifying, IMO, and make a person feel pretty wonderful!
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Unread postby Betty Sue » Tue Dec 04, 2007 8:06 pm

I definitely feel that Fante is revealing his own emotions in this story....dramatized a bit, perhaps! :eyebrow: I think Arturo may have had a twinkle in his eye when he expounded on what a sweet and gentle lover of all living creatures he was.
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Unread postby Liz » Tue Dec 04, 2007 8:29 pm

To answer your question, Gemini, I wonder if Fante was making fun of Arturo and being sarcastic when he said he was so wonderful and a lover of men and beast alike. Maybe, looking back on it, he was digusted with himself.
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Unread postby nebraska » Tue Dec 04, 2007 10:25 pm

gemini wrote:Since these stories are fiction but somewhat autobiographical, I keep wondering about Fante. My question is;
How does Fante (not Arturo) see himself when he is so outrageous? How does he feels about his own ego showing through in Arturo?

The Arturo quote DITHOT used in yesterdays question is one of many examples.

.


That is a really good question, gemini. I guess I don't know enough about Fante himself to answer the question, except to think that in his final days, blind, having a loyal wife who helped him so much and with such loyalty, he must have had more redeeming characteristics than I see in Arturo so far.

I think we all reveal some parts of ourselves each time we answer one of these questions. I did it in specific terms, referencing what I was going through at the moment, discussing anger management, but I think on some level we all relate the things we read and the questions we answer to our own experiences.

How closely related Fante's experience was to Arturo's story isn't really clear to me because I haven't studied Fante's biography in enough detail.

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Unread postby suec » Wed Dec 05, 2007 2:55 am

I saw an author interviewed on tv the other day who said there were two inspirations for his writing: real experiences - filtered through memory, which changes them - and other books. But it doesn't have to be the writer's own experiences.

I think to some extent, this kind of egotism is a male characteristic. Look at what Bukoski said about relating to Arturo and saying I am Bandini, Arturo Bandini !- however much of a twinkle there may have been in his eye at the time, or screaming it at his girlfriend. I have to say, I have known a few people be almost as self-congratulatory as Arturo on occasions, and they have all been male. I also think of something I read where men will apply for a job if they think they can do 20% of it, while women will apply if they think they can do 80%. Sweeping generalisations, I know, and there are always exceptions.
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Unread postby gemini » Wed Dec 05, 2007 1:52 pm

How does Fante (not Arturo) see himself when he is so outrageous? How does he feels about his own ego showing through in Arturo?



Since I posed this question, I'll tell you I am still not sure what I think. I really wanted to hear what you thought hoping it would convince me. I re- read the tidbits on Fante and got a lot more out of them now that I have read these books. I am haunted by the paragraph Fante wrote in his later years about Bandini. Is it an admission that he was Arturo and now he is completly changed?

John Fante recalls his first novel, "Now that I am an old man I cannot look back upon WAIT UNTIL SPRING, BANDINI without losing its trail in the past. Sometimes, lying in bed at night, a phrase or a paragraph or a character from an early work will mesmerize me and in a half dream I will entwine it with phrases and draw from it a kind of melodious memory of an old bedroom in Colorado, or my mother, or my father, or my brothers and sister...of this I am sure: all of the people of my writing life, all of my characters are to be found in this early work. Nothing of myself is there any more, only the memory of old bedrooms, and the sound of my mother's slippers walking to the kitchen"


Here are what some interviews said about Fante and Bandini.

As Gerald Mangan noted in the Times Literary Supplement, Bandini "shares most of the given facts of Fante's own early life. The son of poor Italian-Catholic parents in small-town Colorado, whose burning ambitions lead him to the bright lights of Los Angeles, Bandini is clearly the alter ego in what amounts to an autobiography."

Edward M. White, writing in the Los Angeles Times Book Review, described Wait until Spring, Bandini as "an affecting and unified book portraying the painful family situation of Arturo Bandini, a young adolescent obviously modeled after the author."


I picked this line up in the tidbits which didn't catch my attention the first time I read it.

The book was first marketed, in fact, as nonfiction.


I am torn between him revealing himself in Arturo or using him to emphasize his story.
"If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went." Will Rogers



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