Tony Ardizzone

Writer • Teacher • Editor

 
 
 
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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

'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. "
     --- Jerre Mangione, Philadelphia Bulletin

"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. Ardizzone has in his first novel captured the naturalistic grittiness of an American subculture....The novel grows in power so that at the end Tonto's situation registers as acutely poignant."
     --- Publishers Weekly

"Ardizzone's novel 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 the others. I don't mind that—I’m gone—shot to pieces. I'm part of the scheme—I’m the broken end of a song itself. We are all that, here in the West, 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."
     -- Chicago Tribune

"In the Name of the Father is a carefully woven, sophisticated first novel that avoids sentimentality and self-indulgence."
     --- The New York Times Book Review

"Ardizzone has fired a first shot that no doubt will be followed by a salvo. This book is something rare in contemporary fiction: a novel minus pretense, a simple story simply told—moving, effective, hopefully a little disquieting."
     --- Philadelphia Inquirer

"Tonto Schwartz, a fatherless boy with a special closeness to his mother, is sensitively rendered in Ardizzone's first novel, colorfully and knowingly set in a north Chicago neighborhood. His Catholic education and sexual escapades are supplanted by college, then machine work, as Tonto seeks a serious goal and a sense of self. The humor and somber emotion are carefully, realistically balanced to provide a simple, impressive tale of maturation."
     -- Booklist

"Ardizzone's beautiful narrative—its pace in harmony with its finely wrought characters—makes us eager for his next book."
     --- Pittsburgh Press