Free eBook Ask the DustAuthor John Fante – Albawater.co

Ask the Dust is the story of Arturo Bandini, a young Italian American writer in s 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


10 thoughts on “Ask the Dust

  1. Matt Matt says:

    I remember when I was fourteen, reading Catcher in the Rye I went downstairs and told my mom, it s the weirdest thing, this guy is, like, reading my mind She said, Matt, everyone thinks they re Holden Caulfield God, adults can be so stupid sometimes Obviously she didn t understand that this was something meaningful mystical, really that was happening to me Or, to quote another influential poet of my youth, parents just don t understand Flash forward another fourteen years, the la I remember when I was fourteen, reading Catcher in the Rye I went downstairs and told my mom, it s the weirdest thing, this guy is, like, reading my mind She said, Matt, everyone thinks they re Holden Caulfield God, adults can be so stupid sometimes Obviously she didn t understand that this was something meaningful mystical, really that was happening to me Or, to quote another influential poet of my youth, parents just don t understand Flash forward another fourteen years, the last five or so of them being spent living in Los Angeles Arturo Bandini, I know you too well Living and dying with each minor victory and defeat Fighting so often with the object of your affection to where eventually there s a perverse sort of pleasure to be found in it Realizing that just because love might go unanswered, it doesn t make it any less real and then of course all the dusty urban imagery that in sixty five years has gone essentially unchanged and will likely continue to do so well into the future.It s the telltale sign of good, strong writing when you get the feeling that someone has been reading your mail or email To inspire this feeling from a distance ofthan half a century is an even greater trick I would recommend this book to, like, everyone


  2. Vit Babenco Vit Babenco says:

    Arturo Bandini is young, penniless, na ve and inexperienced and he seems to be a hopeless dreamer but he has a purpose in life He dreams to be a writer and he is set on achieving this goal by hook or by crook so he uses any possibility to write.My plight drove me to the typewriter I sat before it, overwhelmed with grief for Arturo Bandini Sometimes an idea floated harmlessly through the room It was like a small white bird It meant no ill will It only wanted to help me, dear little bird Bu Arturo Bandini is young, penniless, na ve and inexperienced and he seems to be a hopeless dreamer but he has a purpose in life He dreams to be a writer and he is set on achieving this goal by hook or by crook so he uses any possibility to write.My plight drove me to the typewriter I sat before it, overwhelmed with grief for Arturo Bandini Sometimes an idea floated harmlessly through the room It was like a small white bird It meant no ill will It only wanted to help me, dear little bird But I would strike at it, hammer it out across die keyboard, and it would die on my hands.John Fante knows how to tell his tale right and he writes both very convincingly and captivatingly Ask the Dust is a love story Of sort Its title suggests it to be sad and it is.A knock on the window Someone was knocking on the window of that house obscured by heavy vines I turned and found the window, saw a head the flash of teeth, the black hair, the leer, the gesturing long fingers What was that thunder in my belly And how shall I prevent that paralysis of thought, and that inundation of blood making my senses reel But I want this I shall die without it So I m coming you woman in the window you fascinate me, you kill me dead with delight and shudder and joy, and here I come, up these rickety stairs.Hopes of youth Desires of youth Failures of youth But you re young and right ahead there seems to be an abyss of time Some use this time to reach their aims and some use it to destroy their lives


  3. Eleanor Eleanor says:

    John Fante was Bukowski s god, and either you adore him or you ve never heard of him Writing that s raw, swolen, true, and moving from a macro view of paragraph by paragraph, tectonic plates, words that are so organic, you never think about the words, they re tendons and muscles and joins that are by themselves ordinary yet Fante s voice is bold, heroic, cowardly, greedy, broken, blindingly joyful, I would follow him anywhere It s rare that I buy a copy of a book I ve already read, if I didn John Fante was Bukowski s god, and either you adore him or you ve never heard of him Writing that s raw, swolen, true, and moving from a macro view of paragraph by paragraph, tectonic plates, words that are so organic, you never think about the words, they re tendons and muscles and joins that are by themselves ordinary yet Fante s voice is bold, heroic, cowardly, greedy, broken, blindingly joyful, I would follow him anywhere It s rare that I buy a copy of a book I ve already read, if I didn t own it to begin with I needed to own Ask the Dust The intro by Bukowski is terrific, too


  4. Joe Valdez Joe Valdez says:

    Here goes my 200th book report since joining Goodreads.And my introduction to the fiction of John Fante is Ask the Dust, his 1939 novel considered by some scholars and educators to be one of the best works of fiction set in the Great Depression and the best set in Los Angeles Superlatives like those could work against the book s vitality, which is palpable Fante s narrator destitute twenty year old boy Arturo Bandini struggling against hunger, wanting and creative resistance lacks the worldl Here goes my 200th book report since joining Goodreads.And my introduction to the fiction of John Fante is Ask the Dust, his 1939 novel considered by some scholars and educators to be one of the best works of fiction set in the Great Depression and the best set in Los Angeles Superlatives like those could work against the book s vitality, which is palpable Fante s narrator destitute twenty year old boy Arturo Bandini struggling against hunger, wanting and creative resistance lacks the worldliness of John Steinbeck s Depression era men and would ve done well to read The Grapes of Wrath and grow up His story is as bare as a cupboard, but Fante s language and the atmosphere he conjures are breathtaking I was passing the doorman of the Bilt, and I hated him at once, with his yellow braids and six feet of height and all that dignity, and now a black automobile drove to the curb, and a man got out He looked rich, and then a woman got out, and she was beautiful, her fur was silver fox, and she was a song across the sidewalk and inside the swinging doors, and I thought oh boy for a little of that, just a day and night of that, and she was a dream as I walked along, her perfume still in the wet morning air.Then a great deal of time passed as I stood in front of a pipe shop and looked, and the whole world faded except that window and I stood and smoked them all, and saw myself a great author with that natty Italian briar, and a cane, stepping out of a big black car, and she was there too, proud as hell of me, the lady in the silver fox fur We registered and then we had cocktails and then we danced awhile, and then we had another cocktail and I recited some lines of Sanskrit, and the world was so wonderful, because every two minutes some gorgeous one gazed at me, the great author, and nothing would do but I had to autograph her menu, and the silver fox girl was very jealous.In reality, Arturo or Arthur, depending on how prejudiced the person he s introducing himself to is towards Italians is five months off the bus from Boulder, Colorado, chasing dreams of becoming the Great Writer he knows himself to be He checks in to a room in the Alta Loma Hotel in Bunker Hill, in the center of downtown Los Angeles, with littlethan one hundred fifty dollars in his pocket and big dreams in his head Arturo carried two suitcases, one full of copies of a literary magazine edited by his hero J.C Hackmuth, who has published a short story Arturo wrote titled The Little Dog Laughed No one in the hotel seems to care, too busy eroding by sun, hunger or dust.Down to his last nickel, Arturo makes his way to Spring Street and a bar called the Columbia Buffet He becomes fixated on a Mexican waitress named Camilla Lopez who serves him the worst cup of coffee he s ever tasted Their romance hardly blossoms along the lines of mutual respect Arturo projects his own self loathing onto Camilla, who in return is often angry that the vigorous writer cannot be the man she loves, bartender Sammy Wiggins, who longs to publish western stories but is ailing from tuberculosis Arturo is pursued by a desperate older woman named Vera Rivkin who becomes the inspiration for his first novel Wanting to celebrate his success with Camilla, fate steps in So this is where she lived I smelled it, touched it with my fingers, walked through it with my feet It was as I had imagined This was her home Blindfolded I could have acknowledged the place, for her odor possessed it, her fevered, lost existence proclaimed it as part of a hopeless scheme An apartment on Temple Street, an apartment in Los Angeles She belonged to the rolling hills, the wide deserts, the high mountains, she would ruin any apartment, she would lay havoc upon any such little prison as this It was so, ever in my imagination, ever a part of my scheming and thinking about her This was her home, her ruin, her scattered dream.The writing in Ask the Dust is so intoxicating, so filled with ardor and longing whether it s righteous or completely misplaced by our boy narrator that I couldn t help but fall under its spell With littlethan his imagination and a typewriter, Fante sketches Depression era Los Angeles as vividly as the three greatest L.A movies Chinatown 1974 , Blade Runner 1982 andL.A Confidential 1997 were able to do with an army of visual artists Fante also knows the tempests brewing under the skin of both the aspiring artist and the amorous, socially awkward male often one and the same and conveys the life and times of both demographics memorably Ask the Dust comes up short of complete satisfaction due to a couple of things There s the length, which I d peg at 50,000 words, nearly novella length This is accounting for the threadbare nature of the story, the unwillingness of Fante Bandini to really explore Camilla, Sammy, Vera, or anyone else in Los Angeles This is a book about a boy s angst first and a city second, with characters further down the list There s also disconnection between Arutro and Camilla where a novelist like Steinbeck might ve developed a connection The target demographic for Fante might be budding male authors or those with an interest in historic Los Angeles These are my demographics.One of the novel s fans was Robert Towne, the Academy Award winning screenwriter of Chinatown who called Ask the Dust the greatest novel ever written about Los Angeles In 2006, a long simmering film version adapted and directed by Towne was released Starring Colin Farrell as Arturo Bandini, Salma Hayek as Camilla and Idina Menzel as Vera, it suffered a fate similar to Billy Bob Thornton s 1999 adaptation of Cormac McCarthy s All the Pretty Horses as a sober love story mismatched with idealistic imagery It is in Fante s book where his descriptions thrive I didn t ask any questions Everything I wanted to know was written in tortured phrases across the desolation of her face.


  5. Jonathan Ashleigh Jonathan Ashleigh says:

    This book was beautifully depressing I read it because Charles Bukowski loved John Fante so much and I was not let down The story had a depressed swagger that was believable even though it was about a time mostly remembered for glamor This book was beautifully depressing I read it because Charles Bukowski loved John Fante so much and I was not let down The story had a depressed swagger that was believable even though it was about a time mostly remembered for glamor


  6. Steven Godin Steven Godin says:

    Struggling writer Arturo Bandini Great name arrived in 1930 s Los Angeles to make it Big, but ends up in a crummy hotel on Bunker Hill where he spends most of his time dreaming the days away whilst surviving on a diet of oranges and cheap drink, the town is gripped by poverty and every time he sits at his typewriter the lack of ideas is paramount But the publication of a short story which leads to some much needed cash brings Bandini some joy, where it s a case of spend spend spend New cl Struggling writer Arturo Bandini Great name arrived in 1930 s Los Angeles to make it Big, but ends up in a crummy hotel on Bunker Hill where he spends most of his time dreaming the days away whilst surviving on a diet of oranges and cheap drink, the town is gripped by poverty and every time he sits at his typewriter the lack of ideas is paramount But the publication of a short story which leads to some much needed cash brings Bandini some joy, where it s a case of spend spend spend New clothes, cigars, fine food, and nights out indulgent excess But the high life does not last, and it s while at a diner that he is drawn to Camilla Lopez, a waitress with hidden troubles of her own, and so begins a love hate relationship that always seemed doomed from the start Arturo Bandini is such a great creation and on first impressions Henry Chinaski springs to mind, although there are some similarities here with Bukowski, Fante writesfrom the heart with a tenderness that overall makes thisof a moving read than the Chinaski novels It reminded me a little of Nathaniel West s brilliant The Day of the Locust in terms of the hopes and dreams of those trying to make a name for themselves in the City of Angels Great stuff


  7. E. E. says:

    I m giving it three but it really deserves 3.5 I started off tearing into this book with the momentum I tore through Bukowski, which isn t to say that I love Bukowski, I don t, but I tore through his works It s easy shit to tear through.So I read the overwhelmingly positive Bukowski introduction and I m off and running I have a strange fasination with early 20th century LA I couldn t say why I have lived in San Francisco the majority of my life and been to LA 3 4 times I couldn t care less I m giving it three but it really deserves 3.5 I started off tearing into this book with the momentum I tore through Bukowski, which isn t to say that I love Bukowski, I don t, but I tore through his works It s easy shit to tear through.So I read the overwhelmingly positive Bukowski introduction and I m off and running I have a strange fasination with early 20th century LA I couldn t say why I have lived in San Francisco the majority of my life and been to LA 3 4 times I couldn t care less about modern LA, it s something about private eyes and coniving starlets with loose morals in gang run speak easys that gets me going Wait, that s Raymond Chandler.Anyways, I like the time period I also like Antonio Bandini s general insanity He s a complex guy A mess but a complex guy The writing starts out interesting but decent and by about a hundred pages I didn t care so much any The book was destined to sit on the side of my bed with the other 10 books I m half way through and will finish sometime before 2010.Then on a random Saturday afternoon, camping in the Redwoods, about half way through my second 22 of Lagunitas Mother IPA I locked in Every word was resonating Bandini was speaking God s truth I was there with him, with her, in the desert Bandini takes it, but man can he dish it out I tore through the rest of that novel that Saturday afternoon And in it s finishing pages when the small plastic cup of IPA was gone and the whiskey was burning strong I closed Ask the Dust with a bang and threw that fucker into the desert.Bandini


  8. Mariel Mariel says:

    And I answer, the sea is back there, back in the reservoir of memory The sea is a myth There never was a sea But there was a sea I tell you I was born on the seashore I bathed in the waters of the sea It gave me food and it gave me peace, and its fascinating distances fed my dreams No, Arturo, there never was a sea You dream and you wish, but you go on through the wasteland You will never see the sea again It was a myth you once believed But, I have to smile, for the salt of the sea i And I answer, the sea is back there, back in the reservoir of memory The sea is a myth There never was a sea But there was a sea I tell you I was born on the seashore I bathed in the waters of the sea It gave me food and it gave me peace, and its fascinating distances fed my dreams No, Arturo, there never was a sea You dream and you wish, but you go on through the wasteland You will never see the sea again It was a myth you once believed But, I have to smile, for the salt of the sea is in my blood, and there may be ten thousand roads over the land, but they shall never confuse me, for my heart s blood will ever return to its beautiful source.The glorious face of the greatest editor, J.C Hackmuth, a God of magazine publishers, gazes benevolently on the castawayed writer Arturo Bandini, writer of the greatest story told The Little Dog Laughed Not about a dog, what stunning prose He will autograph it for you Here, take two and three with love Tear and hunger stained pages and his prostrate body in signed a puppy love school girl wouldn t flourish the name combinations so well IOUs They ll sell, some day, one day bright blind It hurt me when he peeled off two dollars, three and eight Fifteen and fifty cents loaned to a man who was so not good for it Remember the lean days, Arturo Oranges for breakfast, lunch and no dinner I liked about Fante how I felt sorry for the charitable Japanese fruit dealer when Arturo bypasses his stall to blow an unexpected windfall weeell, a deadbeat returns fifteen cents so he can get it adds up later on two dozen cookies I hated Arturo as he hated himself, waiting for him A hazy Japanese fruit seller with blunted edges of charity, waiting on him in unreality He s also unreal in world goes on without you I wanted to hold his hand blind leading the blindfolded He hurts me because he is too damned dumb He would give it all away just in case some other dumb asshole might be thinking about him what he s thinking about himself If they are thinking about him, laughing at him I bet he could get afraid of going out in public with a smile on his face lest some jerk sees him and decides to turn it upside down I liked a whole lot how Fante held this self aware unself awareness of Arturo like it was just the weather He is always greatest writer in the world voice over in the aftermath of the kicked dog tail under tow In his blind spot he s a part time racist Dear great Hackmuth, they called me all kinds of names when I was coming up All the bad ones, you can t imagine I hate him as he licks his wounded on her The dancing Mexican, his Mayan princess Camilla the poor waitress in the center of his virgin s fixation Arturo is youngish, I guess, but thehe lied the longer he grew in the tooth They don t allow your kind in my hotel I guess there was an upper hand change somewhere in the fists and fits It s too sad as she s covered in his useless writer s glamour That s what stuck to me, how no good he was on her terms and his own terms were pity and hate It could have been worse He could have stayed in the writer s block motel with Barton Fink His neighbor murders veal on a blood soaked binge His neighbor lets it all hang out in a filthy bathrobe No heads in boxes Every cloud It was funny when he s sunk to his knees in lowest moment prayers to God for blessing of stolen milk It was buttermilk The homesick Memphis Kid signs his I gotta get out of here and go home where friends are friends out of Fort Worth, Texas Home becomes home when they had to leave it and Los Angeles or wherever picks up the same old wander lust bowl Okay, I m not so sure I buy the letting down of I m the star of the movie and what can they do for me that settles on the two women he manages to bang by not running out of the room I wouldn t change anything about Ask the Dust, it s just this nagging wonder about what is going to happen if he writes a great book, anyway There s a shut up silence in him for Vera and Camilla and I wish it had had nothing to do with him in my gut, though I know it wouldn t be Arturo Bandini if he didn t ruin it and start talking again Of course he has to autograph his book, a gesture for the wind Hackmuth is a mere man I never met him Maybe such a Godsend is out of my sights Maybe he wanted to remember her where he liked himself, wild beach hair blowing ancient temptress I was there and he couldn t get it up and it was to the ground and snarling echoes of cruel thoughts from where they are wherever people are before they are born Fante was pretty perfect in the phoenix ashes of shame and ego I could hardly stand it Wherever people go when they die, that s where Camilla is I guess he loved her in between I liked that it felt real all this damned pretense It is a lot of work to be Arturo every day It was strangely kind of innocent, and I didn t mean it hurt I wouldn t change a thing since the book about him didn t just read like some book about something


  9. Imogen Imogen says:

    Fuck this book I acted like a racist douchebag toward a girl I like hate because I ve experienced racism myself, and then I sexually assualted her Later, I felt sad she was gone forever Arturo Bandini writes charmingly, and the setting and non plot are super inviting, but Jesus Christ, I expected so muchfrom a press Black Sparrow that s supposed to be cool and an author with such an old timey mystique Fuck this.


  10. Alex V. Alex V. says:

    Ask the Dust is about as good a book as has ever been written I say book, instead of novel because I m not sure it is a novel Same with story, not sure there is much of a story here either Instead, it is a hotwired connection to the mind of Arturo Bandini, the manic writer manifested in this and two other books Fante wrote It might be a shambles of a story, a bust as a novel, but it s a motherfucker of a book.It s been said that Joyce s Finnegan s Wake is a collection of all things in the wo Ask the Dust is about as good a book as has ever been written I say book, instead of novel because I m not sure it is a novel Same with story, not sure there is much of a story here either Instead, it is a hotwired connection to the mind of Arturo Bandini, the manic writer manifested in this and two other books Fante wrote It might be a shambles of a story, a bust as a novel, but it s a motherfucker of a book.It s been said that Joyce s Finnegan s Wake is a collection of all things in the world at that moment, half of them in Ireland, half of those in Dublin, half of those on Joyce s street, half of those in his house and so on and so forth until you reach either infinity or negation, depending on which way you traverse the graph In Ask the Dust, Bandini feels everything whether in proximity or imagined but it all channels through this one man in a frightening rush, and this man, ill equipped to survive even without the encumbering of being the universe s conduit, is ravaged by the unending spurt of life Bandini possibly experiences nothing, no one they are figments in his narrative I ve considered the possibility that this book actually takes place with a catatonic Bandini sitting in that dour Bunker Hill apartment, his synapses sparking out like burnt fuses, manufacturing this wild life of devastating failures punctuated by successes I ve also considered that Bandini is Fante, a juvenile, but often dead on assumption among writers who only write a few books all about writers.None of it matters though Arturo Bandini is the greatest Muhammad Ali took ego lessons from Bandini He is a shrieking lunatic mostly because it is possible that he is the only living person all earth, that the rest of us are either dull shades or occasional fellow lost souls Reading Ask the Dust makes you want to go raving mad for just a while, so you can get the taste of blood in your mouth, so you can hear what it sounds like when you howl like a wolf I think its the third time I ve read this over the past decade, but the first time as a writer myself, and Bandini s anguish and longing to be read and to be loved and whatever pathetic impulses and personality defects that compel a person to Make Things of Spiritual Value only serve to underscore and expose the frightening longing we all have to exist