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on 9 May 1999
This book kept me reading!Fante kept me in the peculiar mindset of the main character, Arturo, where Arturo consciously decides to present himself to the world as a jerk; but at the same time Arturo is reflective enough for me to feel sorry for him at times.Fante writes in that gap between who we REALLY are, and how we decide what we're comfortable with showing everyone else.The Road to Los Angeles is accessible, and doesn't hammer the reader with convoluted views about how the world ought to be.Currently, I am reading Ask the Dust. Many people who've critiqued both books by Fante seem to like Ask the Dust much more. I was totally engaged by The Road to LA. Ask the Dust is a decent enough book; but The Road to LA is without question my favorite of the 2.
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on 10 January 1999
Normally a harsh critic of contemporary American literature, I was stunned by this book and by Fante's inimitable talent. Words that come to mind when I think of his work are: raw, genuine, sharp, to-the-bone. The absence of stylizing is a welcome relief, like going from a stuffy, closed room into the cold night air. Fante reminds me of an unself-conscious, unfettered Hemingway. His main character, Arturo, is wonderfully self-absorbed, but the writing is not. And that combination drills into the human character without fear or shame. Fante makes no excuses for his alter-ego; he strips him of any of the dignity of privacy. And we are granted a rare view of our own humanness. I first read Fante in 1985. After "Ask the Dust" I wanted more of his work but couldn't find it on the east coast. I contacted a book broker and had the good fortune to acquire a lettered first of this one...something I would normally never bother to do. But this book is, without a doubt, an American classic...as is Fante himself.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 3 January 2013
I'd never heard of American writer John Fante before being recommended this book. I had no idea what to expect but knew that John Fante has attracted attention as a significant American writer of the 1930s era.

In The Road to Los Angeles we read a first person account of a year or two in the life of aspiring writer Arturo Bandini, a young man still living with his mother and younger sister and trying to support them by working at menial jobs for minuscule wages.

Bandini seems to have a touch of ego-mania, believing he is called to higher things but full of frustrations of all types - sexual, professional, familial and also with a hefty does of status-anxiety. He believes he is a gifted writer in the making although as the book opens this seems to be more aspiration than reality and it is only towards the end of the book that he finally gushes out a vast sprawling novel which seems to be an example of the "angry young man" genre.

I found Bandini to be a pretty repulsive character. Vivid bursts of verbal abuse, largely targeted at innocent bystanders reveal him to be racist, sexist and full of contempt for almost everyone he encounters. He is seems to be without friends and almost completely alienated from his family. No doubt this comes from his sense of bewilderment that he, a great writer, has to work for 25 cents an hour in a canning factory and use a broom-cupboard as his study.

Much of the book consists of a sub-Joycean stream of consciousness as Bandini struggles to understand the injustice of his life, taking out his frustration on various small creatures along the way (a well-known trait of young psychopaths!). As well as being a threat to all small creatures, Bandini is also a nightmare to his employers and his fellow-workers.

Fante's work tears along at a furious pace, mixing bravado, self-pity, crudeness, cruelty, bursts of frustration and anger, youthful lust and sexual obsessiveness. The writing grabs my attention and forced me to carry on with the book despite my loathing for the character and his dark heart. Reading the book is not a pleasant experience but it's certainly memorable!
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on 4 May 1998
Why do I, a foreigner, have to write the only review on such a marvelous book. Hey, it was written ages ago, and it could have been written yesterday. Fante's writing is the purest and best in his first novel. So far, far ahead of his time. Makes me think you can't learn how to write. You either are or aren't, and very few are. . .
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on 12 June 1998
Fante shows that everything is there and you are powerful enouph to take it. He is what is. Everything he writes your eyes will go over and over again. From the battle with the crabs under the bridge to his special place in his closet. This book is the best book I have read and I know I will ever read. Authorty and hard work sucks is the main theme in the book. Independence will only come if you take it. I also hope you don't buy this book from this scam of a book seller. I hope you read it for free in some libary or you rip it off from some dork who has no idea how to read but thinks carring around Fante and Bukowski novels is the cool thing to do.
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on 3 June 1998
I must rise to the foreigner's challenge. I, an American, adore this book and push it on everyone I know. To me, an 8 is great. I save the tens for the likes of Joyce, Pynchon, Dostoevsky etc. Anyhoo--Fante was so incredibly ahead of his time. He predates the beats and easily outwrites them. He is immensely skilled and totally hilarious. The Great Arturo Bandini is one scuzzy wacko you are going to love. This is NOTES FROM THE UNDERGROUND with a twist. If you've been looking for offbeat, little known gems BUY THIS BOOK. END
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on 14 October 2000
John Fante was one of America's most acclaimed, worshipped cult writers and this, his first novel (recovered in the '80s) is as brilliant a coming-of-age account as "Catcher in the Rye". Fante's semi-autobiographical tale of a disturbed, fatherless Italian-American Catholic boy in Los Angeles in the mid-thirties is as darkly funny as it is insightful and heartbreaking, and anyone interested in Beat/"alternative" American literature from the wrong side of the tracks should check it out.
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on 1 January 2013
The Road to Los Angeles was a long one for this novels release. Fante held it back for a reason, it's far from his best work, it's far from the calibre you'd expect from the man but what it is is exciting. In it's pages you can see the origins and blueprints for so many of his great pieces that are yet to come and for that it's worth cherishing forever.
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on 29 November 2008
Of the 5 john fante novels i've read this is undoubtedly the worst. Both the central protagonist and the writing style come off as incredibly irritating, indulgent and excessively verbose. It's also probably the least clearly structured of his novels, the one most prone to the rambling, meandering style of his rather light plotting. It is also a very awkward, agressive novel, bearing none of the pathos and fluid style of the masterpieces he would write only 5 years later (Wait Until Spring and Ask the Dust).

The manuscript for this novel was found amongst fante's belongings after his death and published posthumously. This suggests that he never got round to finishing the editing of this book (it certainly reads that way) and secondly that he never wished for it to be published. I can see why. If i were a writer i certainly would not want this awkward, rambling, indulgent novel to be a work i was remembered for.

Wait Until Spring, Ask the Dust and Brotherhood of The Grape are all superb fante novels, read those and skip this one.
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on 12 November 1998
All what Fante has written appears to me so full of energy and intelligence that I'm sure like Bandini I'll become, one day, a brilliant 'écrivain'. Just go at work.
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