Ask the Dust – John Fante
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220px AskTheDust

“Los Angeles, give me some of you! Los Angeles come to me the way I come to you, my feet over your streets, you pretty town I loved you so much, you sad flower in the sand, you pretty town.” Arturo Bandini



Arturo Bandini arrives in Los Angeles with big dreams. But the reality he finds is a city gripped by poverty.

When he makes a small fortune from the publication of a short story, he reinvents himself, indulging in expansive clothes, fine food and downtown strip clubs. But Bandini’s delusions take a worrying turn when he is drawn into a relationship with Camilla Lopez, a beautiful but troubled young woman who will be responsible for his greatest downfall.

Review by Federico Adacher:

John Fante was Bukowski’s most remarkable influence, so it was expected to me reading his novels since Bukowski is my greatest influence. “Ask the Dust” tells the story of Arturo Bandini, the clever literary expedient who indicates John Fante’s alter ego, a young Italo-American from Colorado struggling and starving to become a writer in a great, magnificent but at the same time squalid, dirty and realistic Los Angeles, represented and largely described during the Great Depression Era.

He desperately wants to become a writer arriving in L.A with big dreams of success, but the reality he is forced to live in is quite different. He is poor and he does not have a job, but somehow he manages to earn a small fortune from the publication of a short story just when he thinks to give up on his dreams and come back to his house in Colorado.

As he tastes a small fortune in cash coming from his writing, Bandini indulges in expansive luxuries such as food, clothes and lowlife strip clubs. However, the encounter with Camilla Lopez, a beautiful Mexican young woman will be the begin of a doomed, memorable relationship.

The style of the prose is gripping, powerful, passionate and memorable.

The main character, Bandini, is an outstanding creation who doesn’t only represent a misogynist young man who struggles to find its place in the world, but he is a vivid description of youth and its impatience. Whoever does not like his life and somehow feels he deserves more in a world where he has not been asked to born, will find in the young Arturo Bandini a projection of himself and of his dreams. Bandini is the personification of arrogance, vanity, frustration, and desire to rise above.

Arturo Bandini is me. Arturo Bandini is every single one of us. He is the incarnation of the dreamer. Reading his thoughts is just like a ride in a roller-coaster. Arturo Bandini, the illustrious predecessor of Henri Chinaski (Bukowski’s literary alter ego) and reflection of all of us who desperately want our fantasies to become true, will show us the light. He will show us how to survive in a world built on celluloid dreams.

One of the best, most true, and poetic book I have ever read.

As Charles Bukowski said: “Written of and from the gut and the heart… Fante was my God.”


Book details:

  • Genre: Roman à clef
  • Paperback: 198 pages
  • Publisher: Canongate Books
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 184195330X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1841953304


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