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Ask the Dust

(The Saga of Arthur Bandini #3)

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4.12  ·  Rating details ·  24,687 ratings  ·  1,709 reviews
Ask the Dust is the story of Arturo Bandini, a young Italian-American writer in 1930s 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 ...more
Paperback, 165 pages
Published February 7th 2006 by Ecco (first published 1939)
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Brian Yatman I've only read this one, and it is a complete story - it certainly works as a standalone.

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4.12  · 
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 ·  24,687 ratings  ·  1,709 reviews


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Matt
Sep 20, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: angelenos
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
...more
Vit Babenco
Nov 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Arturo Bandini is young, penniless, naïve 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
...more
Eleanor
Sep 13, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: poets, Bukowski lovers, Los Angelinos
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 ...more
Joe Valdez
Nov 25, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction-general
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
...more
Jonathan Ashleigh
Oct 07, 2014 rated it really liked it
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.
E.
Sep 28, 2007 rated it really liked it
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
...more
Mariel
Apr 02, 2014 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: kill time
Recommended to Mariel by: thunder perfect
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
...more
Alex V.
Sep 29, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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
...more
Jimmy
Mar 22, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I picked this up for a buck last week. Fante's such an easy read that I should have been finished that night, but I can't even seem to feign an interest in fiction lately. Well, maybe that's not entirely true. Maybe brain is still convalescing from all the Texas, drugs, and alcohol that I consumed last weekend. I'm astonished that I'm even capable of reading my e-mails lately.






An example of Fante's ostensible solipsism. "War in Europe, a speech by Hitler, trouble in Poland, these were the topics
...more
Imogen
Sep 09, 2009 rated it did not like it
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 much more from a press (Black Sparrow) that's supposed to be cool and an author with such an old-timey mystique. Fuck this.
Paul Sánchez Keighley
Apr 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: woe-is-me, lurve
I started reading this book knowing little more about it than that it was one of Bukowski's favourites. And I can certainly see how Hank's own style might have fed off of certain elements of Fante's prose. But boy oh boy, I didn't know I was diving into a love story; what's more, one that would pull at my guts, my blood, my hair, my teeth and - yes -, by the very end, also my heartstrings. That ending was superb.

The protagonist, Arturo Bandini, is a lot of fun to ready about. A young and passion
...more
RandomAnthony
Dec 05, 2011 rated it liked it
Someone recently mentioned Ask the Dust on Goodreads. I don't remember who. But, uh, thank you, whoever you are. I appreciate the recommendation and I'm surprised, even with its flaws, that the novel isn't revered by the Bukowski Fan Club crowd.

Ask the Dust functions as Arturo Bandini's (fictional) first person account of his rising and falling and rising (etc.) as a young Colorado writer new to California. Arturo wanders around Los Angeles, writes in his spartan hotel room, and makes a shitloa
...more
Steven Godin
Feb 10, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, america
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 c ...more
Richard Derus
Jun 16, 2012 rated it really liked it
***KINDLE EDITION $1.99 TODAY, 23 JUNE 2014

I rated this 4 stars because, when I first read it in the early 1980s, it riveted me. I've taken a star off because after 30-plus years the chances are it's not going to get close to 5 stars, since I've read so very much more by now.

Well, we shall see. I've Kindled it up, it's a short book (under 200pp), and I feel daring.
Mike Puma
Aug 26, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2010
An unreliable narrator, Arturo Bandini, relates his highest accomplishments (writing short stories and a novel) and his deepest failures (finding love). His piques of racism and misogyny are followed by moments of tenderness and compassion for the same woman. He’s a man hard to admire, yet equally hard to forget or not care about. For this reader, at least, he’s one who will have to be revisited, re-evaluated, through the pages of the author’s other volumes in the The Saga of Arturo Bandini sequ ...more
Magdalen
Oct 06, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: t-s-list

While I was reading the book I was determined that I would rate it with a single star. Arturo was a misogynist , racist, arrogant and self-centered. The plot was rather boring. The narration after a certain point was becoming annoying(although there were some great scenes tbh). The characters were flat, irritating and I just couldn't relate to them or like them. I found myself detesting most of them. I only felt bad for Camilla..


But then the ending happened and it changed everything. I fin

...more
Lee
Nov 07, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this a long time ago...no idea what I'd make of it now, but I distantly recall it as being a solid ****...
Matt
Nov 30, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Lovers of the Catcher; aspiring writers; West Coast historians
Shelves: media-ebooks
Like with so many other books a review on Goodreads prompted me to buy this book with the enigmatic title. Sadly the reviewer hasn't written anything in months, and is greatly missed. The book was sitting on my Kindle for quite a while, gathering the proverbial dust, before I finally decided to read it. None other than Charles Bukowski wrote a short introduction. It states "Fante was my god[sic]" and Bukowski came to this conclusion after reading Ask The Dust. He, Bukowski, later became Fante's ...more
Jonfaith
Sep 18, 2010 rated it really liked it
I read this in tandem with a friend who hated the novel. Quite the contrary, I really liked it, the everyday struggle is sprinkled with lyricism. I agree that often this glitter is misogynistic and racist. Fante succeeds here. There is no need to rationalize for his characters' biases and imperfections. This is a gritty novel of mixed fortunes.
Ned
Feb 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
A rare glimpse of the working poor of lost Los Angeles in the 1930s is transmuted through the self aggrandizing eyes of the young Arturo Bandini. But he is no ordinary soul, Arturo fancies himself a writer, but as a young man he worries his life experiences are limited. So he wanders, and watches, and dreams his fever dreams of achieving fame. This is a story about the life of an author, and the filters are off, revealing the naked ambition and nearly schizophrenic seesaws from self loathing to ...more
Darren
Oct 13, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fante, 2013, roman-a-clef
So eventually I get around to Fante. Was it worth the wait? Well firstly, it's worth noting that the storyline amounts to very little and the character development is pretty minimal too. However, Fante's at times, almost stream of consciousness style prose and the depiction of the despair, anger, confusion and cruelty of the various characters is what makes it.

Bandini, is an egotistical, delusional and obsessive character, but also essentially a sensitive and tortured soul. His pursuit of love i
...more
Kid
Apr 20, 2009 rated it it was ok
I think there should be a "gave up" option. I am currently sick of this book and the overwrought narrator. I think I can guess why a maudlin alcoholic might find the pendulum swings between lust and disgust compelling but I don't know - I'm not in my 20s anymore. Did this particular down and out LA hack create a blueprint for the tortured artist type that I loath? Thank god for the weary and reserved language of Chandler.

Bukowski loves this book and this writer - he apparently stumbled across t
...more
Still
Dec 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: readers of Bukowski, Kerouac, Burroughs and the rest of that ilk
Recommended to Still by: no one

Absolutely one of the greatest reads I've ever experienced.
Bukowski (an acolyte of the author) wrote the preface.
A poem Bukowski wrote inspired by the author is included at the end of the book.

This is a funny yet wistful story about a struggling young writer who eventually achieves success and falls in love with a Mexican waitress... serious calamity ensues.
Intense and beautiful.

Recommended to all Charles Bukowski fans -truly a must-own.
Clinton
Feb 17, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I haven't read this book in almost a decade. However, every time I see the beaten-up, dusty volume on my shelf, almost hidden in its slenderness, nestled alphabetically against Faulkner's "As I Lay Dying", I look back fondly on it and the time of my life when I read it and adored it. When I was around 19, I, as most inebriated 19 year old boys who fancy themselves bohemians do, discovered Charles Bukowsi. I forget the exact quote, but not long after my discovery of Bukowsi, I heard a recording o ...more
Jim
Jul 08, 2009 rated it really liked it
Arturo Bandini is by no means the most admirable of heroes: All he seems to want out of life is (1) to have bragging rights as a "great" American author and (2) to have messy affairs with women with whom he has a love/hate relationship.

John Fante's Ask the Dust is still one of the best Los Angeles novels ever written. Its scenes in the now-demolished Bunker Hill neighborhood and its description of the 1933 Long Beach earthquake are priceless pictures of a bygone Southern California. One of the
...more
Matthew W
May 09, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Charles Bukowski described "Ask the Dust" author John Fante as "Mencken's Catholic Bad Boy" in his poetic tribute to the Italian-American novelist. I don't think a better honor could have been bestowed upon Mr. Fante.

My interest in "Ask the Dust" came about when I saw the somewhat recent film based on the book starring black Irishman Colin Farrell. Of course, the film butchers the book, but that is what one comes to expect from culturally-hollow Hollywood.

Charles Bukowski would also state of "A
...more
Ryan Holiday
Jul 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing
found Ask the Dust through Neil Strauss, who considers it one of his favorite books. I read it in one day, LOVED it and ordered all the others. I read each of these in one day as well. Bandini, the subject of the series, is a wonderful example of someone whose actual life is ruined by the fantasies in his head-every second he spends stuck up there is one he wastes and spoils in real life. He's too caught up and delusional to see that his problems are his fault, that he's vicious because he can' ...more
MargaretDH
I just couldn’t get past how much I disliked the protagonist. I certainly don’t think that books need to have likable or admirable protagonists, but Fante’s Bandini seems to be a celebration of the worst parts of American patriarchy. Conceptions of masculinity and femininity are in a state of constant flux, and this book captures a particularly abhorrent understanding of gender.

I hated Arturo Bandini, and Camilla Lopez seemed like a character written by a man who doesn’t much like women, and is
...more
Joshua
Nov 09, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I just reread this book and am amazed by the life and vibrancy on every page. I've never really thought about how a book ages, in terms of the energy that the text still exudes (written in 1939), but I think this narrative would be a good example of that model.

Also, in terms of characterization, I love how Fante makes me "realign" my thoughts on Arturo Bandini from chapter to chapter. One page, I think he's a bastard, and the next, he has me laughing; and the next, he's making a woeful observati
...more
Stuart Ayris
Apr 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing
One morning, a couple of weeks ago, a slim package from Amazon dropped through my door. I was just recovering from my knee operation and thus struggled to bend down to pick it up. Having done so I slid it onto the kitchen worktop assuming it was something else my wife had ordered. It was only when she came in from work that I was told it was actually for me. But I hadn't ordered anything. I opened it anyway and there was Ask The Dust by John Fante. I hadn't heard of either him or his book. Perpl ...more
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1,470 followers
Fante's early years were spent in relative poverty. The son of an Italian born father, Nicola Fante, and an Italian-American mother, Mary Capolungo, Fante was educated in various Catholic schools in Boulder and Denver, Colorado, and briefly attended the University of Colorado.

In 1929, he dropped out of college and moved to Southern California to concentrate on his writing. He lived and worked in W
...more

Other books in the series

The Saga of Arthur Bandini (4 books)
  • Wait Until Spring, Bandini (The Saga of Arthur Bandini, #1)
  • The Road to Los Angeles (The Saga of Arturo Bandini, #2)
  • Dreams from Bunker Hill (The Saga of Arturo Bandini, #4)
“Almighty God, I am sorry I am now an atheist, but have You read Nietzsche?” 249 likes
“You are nobody, and I might have been somebody, and the road to each of us is love.” 150 likes
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