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Ask the Dust (1939)

by John Fante

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Bandini (3)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2,643534,214 (3.89)50
Ask the Dust is a virtuoso performance by an influential master of the twentieth-century American novel. It is the story of Arturo Bandini, a young writer in 1930s Los Angeles who falls hard for the elusive, mocking, unstable Camilla Lopez, a Mexican waitress. Struggling to survive, he perseveres until, at last, his first novel is published. But the bright light of success is extinguished when Camilla has a nervous breakdown and disappears . . . and Bandini forever rejects the writer's life he fought so hard to attain.… (more)
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English (40)  Italian (6)  Spanish (5)  French (1)  Norwegian (1)  All languages (53)
Showing 1-5 of 40 (next | show all)
Bleak, with little hope provided narratively for one to continue...yet...a look into the mind of a young male writer. A Bukowski without pride, wracked with Catholic guilt. ( )
  Popple_Vuh | Oct 24, 2021 |
I don't think I have the right adjectives to review this book. This slim novel is dense but there is not a superfluous word or turn of phrase. Ask the Dust is all at once a tragic love story; a cultural examination; a criticism of Catholicism; and the sad plight of immigrants trying to achieve the American Dream. It is raw and realistic fiction, and it as relevant now as it was in 1939. ( )
  RakishaBPL | Sep 24, 2021 |
At times beautiful writing, but meandering, with a disagreeable protagonist and even more unlikable side characters. ( )
  Gadi_Cohen | Sep 22, 2021 |
The evocation of downtown Los Angeles was superb, but the plot seemed trivial and capricious until the very end. ( )
  gtross | Sep 2, 2021 |
Bandini's narcissistic, ignorant, racist, paranoid, passionate and yet so entirely dispassionate at once, obsessed with playing God, has mood swings comparable to a 15-year-old girl. Reading this reminded me of lousy boyfriends I've had...I think this may have been their handbook. What's worse is that I ate it all up...I didn't know whether I was going to love him or hate him when I turned the page, which just may explain the length of time I've spent dwelling in those lousy relationships. I'm feeling a little uncomfortable making a connection between this and a book I'm going to give four stars.

Almost immediately, Bandini seems like Holden Caulfield. It could make sense: Holden spends that time recuperating in California, decides he'd rather stay because California's rad, doesn't resolve any of his issues, (somehow becomes a struggling Italian, Catholic boy from Colorado), and moves to LA once he's left to his own devices. Ask the Dust was written about 12 years prior to Catcher, but the two characters are so incredibly similar, I wonder if Fante had any influence on Salinger. Something I'll have to investigate.

Here's a snippet I liked. It was the first time Bandini's violent mood swings over his feelings for Camilla endeared me rather than making me want to vomit, and I love it in juxtaposition with his recent success:

Every move she made, the soft turn of her neck, the large breasts swelling under the smock, her fine hands upon the bed, the fingers spread out, these things disturbed me, a sweet painful heaviness dragging me into stupor. Then the sound of her voice, restrained, hinting of mockery, a voice that talked to my blood and bones. I remembered the peace of those past weeks, it seemed so unreal, it had been a hypnotism of my own creation, because this was being alive, this looking into the black eyes of Camilla, matching her scorn with hope and a brazen gloating (114). ( )
  LibroLindsay | Jun 18, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 40 (next | show all)
This year marks the 70th anniversary of the publication of Ask the Dust, by John Fante. Today it's widely regarded as a classic of American literature; many have declared it the finest novel ever to emerge from Los Angeles. In addition to critical praise, the book has also found popular success, appearing on bestseller lists in both the US and Europe. In 2006 it was even made into a Hollywood film, starring Salma Hayek and Colin Farrell. But Fante's masterpiece has not always enjoyed such prominence. In fact, its journey to its current status has been long and highly unusual.

 

» Add other authors (28 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
John Fanteprimary authorall editionscalculated
Bukowski, Charlessecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Flothuis, MeaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For Joyce, with love
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One night I was sitting on the bed in my hotel room on Bunker Hill, down in the very middle of Los Angeles.
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Ask the Dust is a virtuoso performance by an influential master of the twentieth-century American novel. It is the story of Arturo Bandini, a young writer in 1930s Los Angeles who falls hard for the elusive, mocking, unstable Camilla Lopez, a Mexican waitress. Struggling to survive, he perseveres until, at last, his first novel is published. But the bright light of success is extinguished when Camilla has a nervous breakdown and disappears . . . and Bandini forever rejects the writer's life he fought so hard to attain.

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