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In the Name of the Father

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In the Name of the Father

In the Name of the Father

When Abraham Schwartz died he left his son with a perplexing legacy -- the name Tonto.

In the Name of the Father is a novel deeply in the American grain that tells the story of the funny and painful transit to manhood accomplished (and endured) by Tonto Schwartz. It's the story of an emotional search for a lost parent and for a way of living. While young Tonto moves forward through successive rites of passage the psychological direction of the novel is backward in time as he struggles to understand the father he never knew.

Set on Chicago's tough North Side, In the Name of the Father is a lean and elegant portrait of an American youth, a book about Chicago, Catholic education, first friends, and first loves. Its hero is a young man gifted with passion who fights his way through the grim realities of his life to a remarkable resolution.

This is a moving and inspirational story, the debut of a young writer who is an important new voice in American fiction.

Doubleday & Company jacket copy

Jacket design by Paul Bacon

Doubleday & Company, Inc. * October 1978 * ISBN 0-385-14080-0


The Philadelphia Bulletin review of In the Name of the Father, by Tony Ardizzone.
"Rise of Anger: Sensitivity and Toughness Blend," copyright © 1979 by The Philadelphia Bulletin, January 27, 1979. Reviewed by Jerre Mangione.

The ghost of James T. Farrell's young Studs Lonigan hovers over the early sections of this novel as we watch Tonto Schwartz, born of a Jewish father and an Irish mother, growing up Catholic in a tough Chicago neighborhood of white ethnics.

But by the time we have been drawn into the recesses of Tonto's personality the ghost has been well laid to rest, and the author, making his debut as a novelist, has emerged as his own literary person with a style as forceful and efficient as Ernie Banks (Tonto's hero) slugging out a home run for the Chicago Cubs.

Much of the novel's fascination lies in the contradictions of Tonto's character. On the one hand, he can quickly adapt himself to the jungle mores of the streets, even to the extent of carrying a knife after two youngsters, who accuse him of stealing their newspaper route, have beaten and robbed him. On the other hand, he is a sensitive child who, guilt-ridden by the strict morality of his Catholic upbringing, thinks of himself as evil.

As he approaches manhood the sensitivity and toughness boil into anger -- anger with the Vietnam War, which claims the life of his closest friend, Vito; anger with a university educational system whose values strike him as sterile and stupid; worst of all, anger with himself, which, until he becomes a blue-collar factory worker, drives him to the brink of Skid Row.

Throughout his varied tribulations, Tonto broods about his Jewish father who died of war wounds shortly after Tonto was born; Tonto tries to fathom the message his father may have intended by giving him the name of the Lone Ranger's Indian companion. The name has made him the butt of obvious jokes throughout his life, but in a closing episode that is memorable for its dramatic and philosophic punch, his father's intention becomes clear enough so that Tonto is finally able to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

The grimness of Tonto's odyssey is alleviated throughout by humor and poignancy.

New York Times Book Review review of In the Name of the Father, by Tony Ardizzone.
Copyright © 1979 by New York Times, December 10, 1978. Reviewed by Jane Larkin Crain.

A novel about coming of age in working-class Chicago during the 1950's and early 60's, In the Name of the Father chronicles the childhood and adolescence of Tonto Schwartz, son of an Italian mother and a Jewish father who dies when Tonto is an infant, leaving as his only legacy his son's apparently jokey name. Tony Ardizzone's first novel (the author is 29) is dense with particular details of Tonto's world -- the texture of his Catholic education, the character and qualities of his young cronies, the sociology of his tough North Side neighborhood, his love life and the marginal but mostly contented lives of his mother and aunt.

Tonto's confusion about his place in the world -- he drops in and out of college, takes a production-line job in a factory, dates and is hurt by classy girls, loses some teeth at the 1968 Democratic Convention -- is of a piece with his striving for an impossible metamorphic reunion and reconciliation with his father. At the novel's close, in a terse but emotional resolution, Tonto begins to come to terms with his own hungers, making his first move toward vocation and manhood.

In the Name of the Father is a carefully woven, sophisticated first novel that avoids sentimentality and self-indulgence.

Chicago Tribune review of In the Name of the Father, by Tony Ardizzone.
"Three Inheritors of Chicago Tradition," copyright © 1978 by Chicago Tribune Book World, October 15, 1978. Reviewed by Bernard Rodgers.

From its earliest incarnation in Don Quixote, the realistic novel has been built of disillusionment and description. The realist was fated from the start, it has often been asserted, to be a disenchanted idealist, professional iconoclast committed to exposing the giants of illusion his age has constructed for the windmills they are, with an arsenal of accurate descriptions. Since disillusionment has always been realism's impetus, stories of youth coming to age, of the inevitably painful passage from innocence to experience, have often been its subject; since the accurate representation of things as they are has always been realism's touchstone, detailed descriptions of specific times, specific places, specific networks of social relationships have usually defined its style. In the masterpieces of 19th-Century realism, subject and style combine to create works that are both psychological maps and cultural guidebooks -- works in which the central characters all seem more real because of the vivid descriptions we are given of the worlds in which they move, and their reality, in turn, serves to make their time and place come alive for us.

Because it has always been predominantly realistic, Chicago fiction has, for nearly a century now, been marked by these same qualities and characteristics. When we think of the novels that form the core of the Chicago tradition -- of Sinclair's The Jungle, Norris' The Pit, Dreiser's Sister Carrie, Floyd Dell's The Briary Bush, Meyer Levin's The Old Bunch, Farrell's Studs Lonigan, Wright's Native Son, Algren's The Man with the Golden Arm, Bellow's The Adventures of Augie March -- we recall tale after tale of loss of innocence suffered in and because of a particular, carefully described Chicago neighborhood. The persistent preoccupation of these and other works of Chicago realism, Bernard Duffey observed in The Chicago Renaissance in American Letters, was with "the young man or woman at odds with a world he never made -- one which threatened to undo him by forcing him into the power of hostile and foreign circumstances."

That same preoccupation underlies three recently published first novels set in Chicago and its environs. In Shirley Nelson's The Last Year of the War (Harper & Row), Tony Ardizzone's In the Name of the Father (Doubleday), and Roslyn Rosen Lund's The Sharing (Morrow), we find three distinctive voices, three distinctive visions; but each of these novels begins in disillusionment, traces the stages of its major character's loss of innocence and/or coming-of-age, and, in the process, reminds us of the diverse elements that make up the Chicago writer's heritage.

Nelson's The Last Year of the War, set in 1946-47, tells the story of a crisis of faith, of a Christian soldier trying to march away from war and confusion. Eighteen-year-old Jo Fuller, a born-again Christian, boards a train that takes her from the backwoods of Massachusetts to the Calvary Bible Institute in Chicago. Her Bible in hand, evangelical fervor in her mind, serious doubts and questions temporarily buried in her mind, she arrives at the Institute and, almost immediately, begins to fall apart at the seams.

Like that of a host of Chicago characters before her, Jo's disillusionment is intimately bound up with the neighborhood in which she experiences it. But the neighborhood Nelson's book describes so thoroughly is not exactly the kind we are used to finding in Chicago novels. In fact, "Jo is reluctant to insist that she ever lived in Chicago at all," and "in a way she didn't. She scarcely visited the Loop, never shopped in Marshall Field, never strolled in Lincoln Park, and walked the shores of Lake Michigan only once. . . .she never said to herself, I live in the slums of Chicago. She lived at Calvary." And Calvary, the microcosm confined within the Institute's stone walls, is the neighborhood Nelson takes as her province. A large part of her book's appeal lies in the fact that she reveals the mores, language, attitudes, tensions, and rituals of that neighborhood, which most of us have never visited, at thoroughly as Algren revealed those of his nearby Division Street.

To Jo and her fellow students, the Chicago where most of us live is a vast, faithless wasteland to be visited in (group) forays to mission houses, but otherwise shunned as evil and corrupting. When the city does intrude on their isolation, it is as a series of "hostile and foreign circumstances" -- as the soot that dirties their window sills; as an exhibitionist who invades their dormitory like a living embodiment of the world, the flesh, and the devil; as the source of a night of panic caused by a missed bus -- as a constant reminder, in other words, of the tumultuous reality that retreat into the Institute cannot block out for long. Only when Jo accepts that reality, with the thought that "she could go anywhere; she could walk the streets of Chicago all night," is her education complete.

If Jo Fuller had ventured north and west to Southport and Fullerton during the last year of the war, she could have seen the corner apartment where Tony Ardizzone's hero, Tonto Schwartz, was just beginning the battle with the city traced in In the Name of the Father. Where Nelson's Chicago neighborhood is unusual, Ardizzone's is the kind we have come to expect in Chicago fiction. Though passages of his novel are reminiscent of Joyce's Portrait of the Artist and other Bildungsromans, its primary allegiance is suggested by its opening paragraph, drawn from Sherwood Anderson: "First there are the broken things -- myself and others. I don't mind that -- I'm gone, shot to pieces. I'm part of the scheme. . . . here in Chicago." Like Jurgis Rudkus, Studs Lonigan, Bigger Thomas, Frankie Machine, and other Chicago victims before him, Tonto literally becomes one of the "things" shot to pieces, broken by the city that formed and then undid him.

The novel begins with a brilliant series of archetypal episodes from a Chicago Catholic boyhood, a boyhood that straddles two worlds. In his pocket Tonto carries his holy cards and baseball cards in a single, rubber-band-bound pile. Over his bed he hangs a crucifix, a Cubs pennant, and his list of "All-Stars": "God the Father, first person, first base; God the Son, second person, second base; God the Holy Ghost, third person, third base; Ernie Banks, I don't care if he's chocolate, shortstop. . . . Our Lady of Perpetual Help, pitcher, because of her good arms." Looking out of his apartment window, he thinks that "beyond the sky were the stars and then Heaven," but "below, from his north window, was Fullerton Avenue." And across Fullerton is a currency exchange whose clock and flickering neon sign punctuate Tonto's nights and years as Ardizzone's emblem of the forces that make Chicago work.

That what Tonto learns in school and on the streets is incongruous is precisely why he eventually becomes so disillusioned and cynical about all belief and commitment. He isn't yet fifteen when he states the philosophy of life his Chicago experience has led him to formulate: "People are only out for themselves. . . .I know what to expect. . . . Feeling was the stupidest, most uncool thing you could do." With that philosophy as his guide, he tries to withdraw, to become an observer, a stoic untouched by death, loss of love, physical pain, loneliness. Eventually, he becomes another of those Chicago characters whom things happen to, another broken, passive sufferer.

Though Roslyn Rosen Lund of Evanston is the only one of these three writers currently living in the Chicago area, her connections to the Chicago tradition have nothing to do with the evocation of a neighborhood. The plot of The Sharing concerns a Winnetka widow's fight to regain her husband's share of a business investment from her two brothers-in-law in New York, but its real subjects are Sophie Mandel's coming-of-age at 45 and the way that female characters like hers and her mother-in-law Bella's are misdirected, thwarted, and, only after tremendous struggle, redefined. Like Bellow's Herzog and Citrine, Sophie is surrounded by scheming lawyers, intimidated by relatives whose business acumen cows her, forced to deal with the stresses of separation and loss. While it is is no less a story of disillusionment than Nelson's or Ardizzone's, Lund's also seems intended, at least in part, as a woman writer's response to the stereotypes of Jewish-American family life that earlier Chicago writers helped to create.

Beginning with the novels of I. K Friedman at the turn of the century every literary generation of the Jewish-American tradition has had prominent Chicago spokesmen: Ben Hecht in the '20s, Meyer Levin and Albert Halper in the '30s, Saul Bellow since the '40s, Philip Roth (who wrote Goodbye,Columbus and part of Letting Go while living on Drexel Avenue) since the '50s. In Lund's book the images these writers created are treated as illusions to be modified or turned on their heads. So Sophie (as in Portnoy) contradicts the stereotype of the autocratic, domineering, overprotective Jewish mother. And while Bella fits the type -- her daughter-in-law Lill, she insists, is having her son Bert "psychoanalyzed away from" her; Sophie, she claims, is responsible for the death of her son Bill, because "he wouldn't have died if you hadn't taken him on vacation" -- Lund takes great pains to make us understand the sources of her behavior and sympathize. Instead of a Jewish hero we get a Jewish heroine; instead of love affairs with shiksas, a love affair with a goy (Irish and German, yet); instead of a sexually wounded Jewish hero, a Gentile love with hangups, and so on. All of this is done with great wit, and wit combines with insight in The Sharing to make us see these things anew.

Each of these excellent novels is, of course, much more than what has been described here -- more than another point to be added to the tradition of Chicago realism's score. But each, it's pleasant to report, is that too.

The Philadelphia Inquirer review of In the Name of the Father, by Tony Ardizzone.
"Tonto in Search of his Destiny, or, What's in a Name?" copyright © 1978 by The Philadelphia Inquirer, November 5, 1978. Reviewed by James M. Cory.

Tony Ardizzone's first novel is a simple story of coming of age -- of Tonto Schwartz's growth into manhood in a working-class neighborhood on Chicago's North Side. It begins as a warm and anecdotal book about a boy growing up in the sixties -- of baseball, Catholic education and paper routes; of the mysteries of liquor and sex; of friendships broken by war or the slow disintegration of mutual interests.

In the Name of the Father is really two tales. In parts one and two, Ardizzone gives a funny, empathetic, even a nostalgic picture of Tonto's boyhood. In parts three and four, Tonto is loosed to the dreary world of factory America in the sixties, undergoing that hardening process that unfortunately must accompany our entry into adulthood.

The key to this novel's odd title is found in the stranger name of its hero. Abraham Schwartz was a World War II veteran whose head was half blown away by an artillery shell. A few weeks before he dies, he christens his infant son Tonto, after the Indian who saves the life of the Lone Ranger.

As Tonto drifts through young adulthood, he is unable to establish a close relationship with any of the girls he dates. He drinks too much; he loses three teeth to a cop's billy club and two fingers to his punch-press machine at the factory. Finally, and despite the grim direction in which circumstance has pointed his life, Tonto comes to understand the significance of his own name. He decides to press on, to keep going, to try again.

This business of names is an odd way to tie a novel together, but it works. Ardizzone has fired a first shot that no doubt will be followed by a salvo. And this book is something rare in contemporary fiction: a novel minus pretense, a simple story simply told -- moving, effective, hopefully a little disquieting.

Library Journal review of In the Name of the Father, by Tony Ardizzone.
Copyright © 1978 by Library Journal, September 1, 1978. Reviewed by Robert H. Donahugh.

Growing up poor and Catholic in the Chicago of the 1950's and 1960's, Tonto Schwartz, son of an Irish-Catholic mother and a Jewish veteran, goes through schooling with the nuns, friendship, sexual encounters, drinking, and an abortive sojourn in college. Philosophical musings and wrestling with the name his dying father willed him seem to preclude success in work, school, and personal relationships. Following participation in the 1968 Democratic Convention and an accident, Tonto comes to terms with his dead father and with his name. Chicago and the Catholic experience are superbly evoked in this short, well-written novel that most public libraries should consider.

Publishers Weekly review of In the Name of the Father, by Tony Ardizzone.
Copyright © 1978 by Publishers Weekly, September 1978.

Growing up tough yet vulnerable in Chicago, Tonto Schwartz finds his remarkable name both a threat and a challenge. Emerging from a constricted Roman Catholic boyhood into a gang-like fraternity of adolescent experimentation, he is haunted by the man who named him -- an unknown father, Jewish and long dead. Ahead lie aborted romances, college and a final catharsis à la Studs Lonigan. Ardizzone, professor at Bowling Green State University, has in his first novel captured the naturalistic grittiness of an American sub-culture. After a beginning that pays overmuch attention to the minutiae of parochial education, the novel grows in power so that at the end Tonto's situation registers as acutely poignant.

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