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Ask the Dust (Canongate Canons) [Paperback]

John Fante , Charles Bukowski
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
RRP: 8.99
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Book Description

4 May 2012 Canons

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 expensive 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.

Ask the Dust is an unforgettable novel about outsiders looking in on a town built on celluloid dreams.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Canongate Canons; Main - Canons Imprint Re-Issue edition (4 May 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0857862375
  • ISBN-13: 978-0857862372
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 76,172 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


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)

Book Description

With an introduction by Charles Bukowski

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Like finding gold in the city garbage dump 17 Nov 2000
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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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars how passion truly manifests itself 10 Jun 2002
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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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
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
4.0 out of 5 stars The Informed 14 Mar 2006
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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fante was Bukowski's God 11 May 2010
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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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars An important book?
Apparently this is an important book and it certainly seems to have some good atmosphere around living in LA in the early 30s. Read more
Published 1 month ago by TL
4.0 out of 5 stars a sense of place (awareness of context)
i read many books and i do not really get a feel of the place in which the story occurs. it feels like it could be anywhere; but ask the dust is the opposite of that. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Oyetunde Oyebode
5.0 out of 5 stars Ask the Dust
John Fante's short novel,"Ask the Dust"(1939) is set in the Depression-ridden Los Angeles of the 1930s. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Robin Friedman
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant book
I love Charles Bukowski and was intrigued to read that he loved 'Fante'. If you like CB you'll like this. An earlier time and place but still L.A. Read more
Published 5 months ago by D. Lewis
5.0 out of 5 stars A lesson in passion
"He has never been known to use a word that might send a reader to the dictionary."
- William Faulkner on Ernest Hemingway.

"Poor Faulkner. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Carol A.
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic
Wonderfully constructed piece of writing that keeps the reader guessing. Sad and fun with interesting characters that come into play throughout the story.
Published 15 months ago by david orton
5.0 out of 5 stars Magnificent read
This book is fantastic. I was compelled by the unique style of writing, the countless moments which made me laugh. Read more
Published 16 months ago by Leon
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply wonderful
Like many people I came to this via the works of Charles Bukowski who regularly praised this book as one of the best he had ever read. Read more
Published 17 months ago by Gwilym Piette
5.0 out of 5 stars Fante-tastic
There's nothing to say here. Fante is one of the most amazing writers who has ever graced the page and Ask the Dust is a book that will open a door in your mind you never even knew... Read more
Published 17 months ago by Dave
5.0 out of 5 stars Fante-tastic
There's nothing to say here. Fante is one of the most amazing writers who has ever graced the page and Ask the Dust is a book that will open a door in your mind you never even... Read more
Published 18 months ago by Dave
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