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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Like finding gold in the city garbage dump
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...
Published on 17 Nov 2000 by Z. Rasul

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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Too implausible
I came to this through Charles Bukowski's recommendation in his own writings, and I can see its appeal for him. It didn't have much appeal for me, though. I enjoyed the first few chapters, though it reminded me strongly of Knut Hamsun's Hunger, a similar tale of a struggling author and his curious personality quirks. With Hunger, though, the intensity never lets up; this...
Published on 25 Sep 2011 by Archy


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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Reissue of a classic 20th Century Novel., 23 Nov 2002
By 
Jason Parkes "We're all Frankies'" (Worcester, UK) - See all my reviews
(No. 1 Hall OF FAME REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Ask The Dust (Paperback)
This was the first work of John Fante's I had read, which I picked up after reading Charles Bukowski's introduction in a free book from Rebel Inc Press (who previously reissued this in the late 1990's). It's not a book I've forgotten and fully intend to read again now it has been reissued (my Rebel Inc copy is still, permanently lent out!)- Robert Towne used it as research for his screenplay for the classic Chinatown. Fante depicts the life of Arturo Bandini - who would recur in subseuquent works such as Wait Until Spring, Bandini as he lives below the breadline. This book is funny, heartbreaking and divine- and Bandini is the archetypal alter-ego of Fante, as Harry Chinaski is for Bukowski. This book reminded me of parts of Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, various Graham Greene novels and a less bombastic Hemingway (early) and is a definite precursor to writers like Keroauc- though Henry Miller's Tropic of Cancer also springs to mind (the bohemian writer life, the talk of food)- so you can't forget books like Hamsen's Hunger or works of Fitzgerald (albeit without the snobbery). Whatever, Ask the Dust is a great novel and if your heart hasn't imploded a little by the end, check for a pulse...
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5.0 out of 5 stars A masterpiece, 8 Feb 2008
By 
Dario Nappo (Oxford, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Ask The Dust (Paperback)
This novel is a true, inspired masterpiece. The story is behind any word, describes the life of Arturo Bandini, "lover of men and beasts alike!"

There is not much to say, apart "Read it and enjoy"! An extraordinary novel about love, success, death, religion and life. The life of Bandini, one of the most extraodinary characters of the contemporary literature.
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4.0 out of 5 stars a sense of place (awareness of context), 21 May 2014
By 
Oyetunde Oyebode (uk) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Ask The Dust (Canons) (Paperback)
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. you really get a sense of location and awareness of context. it was a quick read. no preambles no unnecessary embellishment just straight to the point.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Ask the Dust, 11 April 2014
By 
Robin Friedman (Washington, D.C. United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Ask The Dust (Canons) (Paperback)
John Fante's short novel,"Ask the Dust"(1939) is set in the Depression-ridden Los Angeles of the 1930s. It is a semi-autobiographical novel which tells the story of Arturo Bandini, an inexperienced 20-year old who aspires to be a writer. Bandini, the son of Italian immigrants, has left his home in Boulder, Colorado to pursue his dreams of writing in a shabby area of Los Angeles. When the novel begins, Bandini has had one story accepted for publication the "Little Dog Laughed" of which he is inordinately proud. Dogs come to play a large role in the book even though they have no role in Bandini's first story. Bandini's editor, Hackmuth, is based upon the figure of H.L. Menken, and he offers Bandini great encouragement in his literary efforts.

Upon moving to Los Angeles, Bandini moves into a cheap, dilapadated hotel, the Alta Loma, in an area known as Bunker Hill. He struggles with writing, poverty, loneliness, sexual hunger, and with understanding his Catholicism. As the novel opens, Bandini is running out of money, owes back rent, and faces a writer's block. Bandini is also seeking, unsuccessfully, sexual experience with women.

The book revolves around the relationship between Bandini and a young Mexican waitress named Camilla Lopez who works at an establishment called the Columbia Buffet. Lopez and Bandini are deeply attracted to each other yet their relationship explodes with hostility. The story explores the racial prejudices of both Bandini, with his reaction to Mexican-Americans and Camilla, with her envy and her own prejudice against children of immigrants. Camilla is in love with Sammy, a bartender at the Columbia Buffet.Sammy becomes terminally ill and still rejects Camilla. Camilla is addicted to drugs and suffers a severe emotional breakdown. Fante tells a story of love, frustration, rejection and sexuality. The story is bleak and sad as Camilla wanders into the desert alone with her dog and Bandini, heartbroken, becomes disillusioned with writing.

In the course of the story, Bandini meets and has a short affair with an older woman, Vera Rivken, who suffers from a terrible disfigurement. Bandini is able to move from the affair to write his first novel based upon his imagination of Vera's life.

This book is, for the most part, tautly and sparely written. On occasion, Fante adopts a lyrical, highly expressive and poetic tone. The book portrays beautifully the streets, cheap rooming houses, and dives of the poorer sections of Los Angeles. The secondary characters in the story, including the grasping landlady, Mrs Hargraves, Bandini's cadging alcoholic friend Hellfrink, and several prostitutes and dancing girls as well as its settings give the book a gritty feel of immediacy. An earthquake plays a pivotal role in the book. Bandini is an egotistical, naive young man and yet the reader becomes involved with him, as well as with Camilla, Sammy, and Vera. It is easy to understand why the underground novelist and poet Charles Bukowski together with many other writers was influenced greatly by this still comparatively little-known work.

Bandini's writing begins to succeed when he lets himself go and stops becoming stressed over attempts to forge a literary style over his typewriter. Thus Bandini's second story is in effect a long letter to Hackmuth which the editor turns into a publishable work by removing the greeting and salutation. In his reaction to the affair with Vera, Bandini quickly writes his first novel. In a mixture of egoism and insight, Bandini describes what he deems valuable in writing: "It won't shake the world, it won't kill a soul, it won't fire a gun, ah, but you'll remember it to the day you die, you'll lie there breathing your last, and you'll smile as you remember the book. The story of Very Rivken, a slice out of life." (p.146)

In 2006, a movie of "Ask the Dust" was released which was adequate at best and does not do justice to Fante's novel. This short, multi-themed book of tough urban life deserves to be read. "Ask the Dust" is a minor American classic.

Robin Friedman
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5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant book, 26 Jan 2014
By 
D. Lewis (Wales) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Ask The Dust (Paperback)
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. through the eyes of a guy who lived through it. the street, the bars, the girls, the great observations on daily life.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A lesson in passion, 2 Jun 2013
This review is from: Ask The Dust (Paperback)
"He has never been known to use a word that might send a reader to the dictionary."
- William Faulkner on Ernest Hemingway.

"Poor Faulkner. Does he really think big emotions come from big words?"
- Ernest Hemingway on William Faulkner.

Hemingway's response to Faulkner's critique may well sum up Ask the Dust. There are no "Big words," no over-elaborate prose, and yet ATD has more passion than any novel I can name. Fante is not afraid let the reader see him for what he really is; ambitious, spiteful, petty, and yet vulnerable; and in a medium where passion is hard to convey, Ask the Dust, and John Fante, should be better-heard.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic, 28 Mar 2013
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This review is from: Ask The Dust (Paperback)
Wonderfully constructed piece of writing that keeps the reader guessing. Sad and fun with interesting characters that come into play throughout the story.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Magnificent read, 17 Mar 2013
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This review is from: Ask The Dust (Canons) (Paperback)
This book is fantastic. I was compelled by the unique style of writing, the countless moments which made me laugh. Arturo Bandini is a very interesting character, American buttermilk-thieving writer with a heart of gold. This book is sure to capture the attention of anybody with an admiration for genius writing. A book which I will read again with pleasure. The rope of hope always squeezed by our firm grip until we can hold on to it no longer. The little [white] dog laughed, indeed.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Simply wonderful, 1 Feb 2013
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This review is from: Ask the Dust (Kindle Edition)
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. Like with many subjects I think Bukowski was completely right on this count. Ask the dust is a story of desire, jubilation, longing, despair and dreams which whether good or bad can drive a person forward for better or for worse. If any of the aforementioned mentioned feelings are not alien to you then I recommend it wholeheartedly. It's beautiful, raw, tragic and is bound to stay with me for a long time yet.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fante-tastic, 23 Jan 2013
This review is from: Ask The Dust (Canons) (Paperback)
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 was there. It's made even better when you read The Road to Los Angeles and you can see his working out, his blueprint for Bandini.
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Ask The Dust
Ask The Dust by John Fante (Paperback - 11 Nov 2002)
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