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Was Betty Smith influenced by John Fante?

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message 1: by Zak (last edited May 15, 2018 05:01PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Zak Longo I had this book in my collection for about 15 years before finally reading it. There wasn't much I had heard about it that struck me, but I knew it was a classic, so I added it to my library. Being an avid John Fante fan, I have read all of his books around 3 times each. So, when I got a little ways into Smith's book, I immediately jumped back to the publish date to see if she had influenced Fante or vice versa. The similarity was that stark. I thought there must be a connection!

I have searched a bit, to see if the two had been mentioned as influential upon one another, but I cannot find anything. As Fante was published around 4-5 years before Smith, it seems plausible that she read Ask the Dust, and it had a huge impact on her style and prose.

John Fante


Arabella Thorne This is a fascinating comparison. My initial response is that they aren’t similar at all...though both were read ages ago...especially as they took place on opposite ends of the country. And unless my memory is cheese..Fante isn’t dealing with a youngster in his, is he? I just remember the gritty downtown LA...since I worked at First and Hill, just catty corner from City Hall.
But honestly, style wise...I don’t know.


message 3: by Zak (last edited Jul 05, 2018 11:03AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Zak Longo Arabella wrote: "This is a fascinating comparison. My initial response is that they aren’t similar at all...though both were read ages ago...especially as they took place on opposite ends of the country. And unless..."

Ask the Dust is the most famous book in Fante's Bandini books, and addresses the character in his late teens, after having migrated to LA to become a famous writer. If you go back and read book 1, the character starts off even younger than Francie (elementary school, I believe).

Bandini Books:
Wait Until Spring Bandini (1938)
The Road to Los Angeles (w. 1936; pub. posth. 1985)
Ask the Dust (1939)
Dreams of Bunker Hill (1982)

Smith would have had access to Wait Until Spring and Ask the Dust, as they were in popular circulation.

The subject matter in their most famous books is obviously different, but the style of writing is very similar. Fante was one of those writers whose style stuck with you.


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