When Abraham Schwartz died he left his son with a perplexing legacy -- the
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
IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER
Doubleday & Company, Inc. * October 1978 * ISBN 0-385-14080-0
The Philadelphia Bulletin review of In the Name of the Father, by Tony
"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
Copyright © 1979 by New York Times, December 10, 1978. Reviewed by Jane Larkin
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
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
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
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,
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
"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.
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.