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Ask the Dust ("Rebel Inc." Classics) Paperback – 14 Feb 2000

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Product details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Canongate Books Ltd (14 Feb. 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0862419875
  • ISBN-13: 978-0862419875
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 12.8 x 1.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 745,969 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"Written of and from the gut and the heart . . . Fante was my god"

"A powerful and moving read" (Guardian)

"A tough and beautifully realised tale - affecting, powerful and poignant" (Time Out)

"Bandini is a magnificent creation, and his discovery is not before time" (Times Literary Supplement)

"This stunning novel, as Charles Bukowski's 1980 foreword outlines, was the reason he became a writer. Is there any better recommendation?" (Uncut) --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Book Description

With an introduction by Charles Bukowski --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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I was a young man, starving and drinking and trying to be a writer. Read the first page
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Z. Rasul on 17 Nov. 2000
Format: Paperback
That other great Californian writer Charles Bukowksi writes in the preface to Ask The Dust that this was the first book he found in LA city library where the words jumped out of the page. Fante writes in a beautifully simple style, following the frustrated Arturo Bandini as he recounts his time in LA, constantly finding himself in love and trouble. Ask The Dust is part of a trilogy in the Bandini series and is probably the best, although Wait Until Spring Bandini and Dreams From Bunker Hill are also excellent novels that have the same simple, powerful unaffected style of John Fante. Fans of his work might be interested in checking out the work of John's son, Dan Fante - whose novel Chump Change is written in a similar style fusing together the old and new worlds of the American city.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Mark Heywood on 10 Jun. 2006
Format: Paperback
This book lingered on my mind for weeks. So it must good. It's the story of Arturo Bandini, a young would-be writer who comes to Los Angeles to make it as a writer, but discovers poverty and loneliness instead. That is, until he encounters Camilla Lopez, a Mexican-American waitress.

What makes this romance interesting is, like all great love stories, it is doomed.

In fact, there is quite of bit of friction and nastiness right from the beginning between these so-called lovers. And ultimately it is one-sided, with Arturo sadly learning a grand lesson in humility. (We've all been there.) We see the character arc from self-absorbed ego-driven writer (with delusions of grandeur) to self-sacrificing and responsible human being. This is a tragic tale, with Camilla's decline and Arturo's helplessness underscored. The ending is brilliant. I literally fell into a stunned silence at the end.

My only small complaint is that John Fante doesn't to know much about the main narcotic alluded to in the book: Marijuana. It's almost comical how little he knows about it ("Reefer Madness" might be his main reference and source of information); yet this aside, ASK THE DUST remains a powerful book, a haunting one. One I would recommend, especially to writers.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By John Self on 14 Mar. 2006
Format: Paperback
I read Ask the Dust for the first time this week, but when I think on it, Fante first came to my attention when I saw the first paragraph of this novel used as the epigraph to Bret Easton Ellis's 1994 collection of stories, The Informers.
"One night I was sitting on the bed in my hotel room on Bunker Hill, down in the very middle of Los Angeles. It was an important night in my life, because I had to make a decision about the hotel. Either I paid up or I got out: that was what the note said, the note the landlady had put under my door. A great problem, deserving acute attention. I solved it by turning out the lights and going to bed."
Probably Ellis intended to use this to infuse his collection with the essence of Fante, as his characters were modern versions of Fante's: feckless, drifting, irresponsible. There the similarities end though, for Ellis's characters derive their plotlessness from an excess of money and unregarded privilege, whereas Fante's have the opposite. Also, Ellis's characters are suffering - to cite the blurb - from the death of the soul, whereas Fante's are bursting with heart and soul from the first page.
Ask the Dust was published in 1939 but it feels entirely fresh. Like his disciple Bukowski (by an embarrassing coincidence, I read what I thought was the opening of Ask the Dust in the bookshop and liked it enough to buy it, only to get home and realise what I had liked so much was the start of the introduction, penned by Charles Bukowski), Fante uses mostly ordinary, unordained language to extraordinarily vivid effect. This makes the occasional fine phrase - 'the waves eating the shore' - all the more arresting.
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28 of 30 people found the following review helpful By A. R. Gray on 10 Jun. 2002
Format: Paperback
to anyone who feels passionate and yet unable to express him or herself, to anyone who has ever fallen truly in love (and I mean the one where they seep into your veins like a virus and infect your every moment), to anyone who feels ashamed of themselves for no other reasons than those society enforces upon them, and to those who feel that something quite beautiful exists within them and no-one seems to care - please hunt for this book, read every word without missing a single letter, and don't tear from it until you reach the end. A brutal encounter between the Nietzschean quest for total autonomy, and the demands of living in a world where passion and love are not choices, but curses. A narrator who understands himself and his world, yet could not be further from the truth (if there is one). He fights himself, the world, Camilla Lopez, purely because he is caught in an existence where you are what you do yet feel what you are.
for christ's sake read this - I have still not discovered anything quite as beautiful.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Scott Coates on 11 May 2010
Format: Paperback
I have been a Charles Bukowski fan for a number of years and it was through reading his work that I picked up on John Fante's work. Ask the Dust is his most recognisable work and so it should be, I ascribe this work to what Arturo Bandini says of his short story that was published, a work of screaming poetry. I was gripped from start to finish, the words dance along the pages resting in your mind. Fante paints a wonderful picture of Arturo Bandini, struggling writer holed up in seedy Califronian hotel. Bandini's inner conflcit is the centerpiece of the book, a tortured genius who then meets Camilla Lopez a waitress in a run down bar. The strange relationship they embark on flirts with sheer romantic joy and outright madness in the city of dust.

This book is timeless, it reads like it could have been written in 2008 never mind 1938. The best recommendation I can think of for this book is that it was the reason that Charles Bukowski became a writer. For anyone that picks up this book the prose is sometimes majestic, written from the heart and soul. John Fante has remained largely unrecognised when it comes to American fiction and that is a good thing in a way, because it makes his work even more unique when you delve deep inside it.
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