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Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial Modern Classics (February 7, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060822554
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060822552
  • Product Dimensions: 2.1 x 3.1 x 0.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (148 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #18,244 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

This book is another sterling recommendation from the Saltzman workshop. The under-appreciated Fante's second outing details the adventures of his alterego, Arturo Bandini, as the struggling young writer tackles Los Angeles in the late 1930s. And take it from personal experience, tackling L.A. as a destitute young scribe some decades later isn't much different. In other words: Fante gets it right and sets it down in his Chianti-steak-and-potatoes style, with prose both simple and rich. This Black Sparrow edition has a bonus: Charles Bukowski's great preface on how Fante stacks up against writers that were at once more famous--and far more anemic. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

A powerful and moving read - Guardian --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Probably one of the greatest short fictions I have ever read.
caligunguy
Magnificent book - Fante's style captures the earnest nature of his characters so vividly.
Robert Stafford
Like most readers I read this book because Bukowski recommended it in, I think, *Women."
Michael P. McCullough

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

104 of 107 people found the following review helpful By Terry A. Green on March 3, 2003
Format: Paperback
Twelve years ago I read an article in the Los Angeles Times in which America's most successful fiction writers were asked to name their top-ten favorite works of 20th Century American fiction. John Fante's "Ask the Dust" was the only title to appear on every author's top-ten list in that article. Since then, I've read "Ask the Dust" twice, as well as every other book by Mr. Fante. Ironically, "Ask the Dust" was published six years before J.D. Salinger's "Catcher in the Rye" and the similarities between Holden Caulfield and Arturo Bandini are uncanny. The difference is that Arturo is even more impulsive than Holden, if that's possible, and wholly American. You'll want to console Arturo and slap him silly at the same time! Unfortunately, John Fante didn't live to see the latest revival of his work, but Black Sparrow Press has made him a literary star. You will laugh outloud and embrace this book! I promise.
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68 of 75 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on December 25, 1999
Format: Paperback
Sorry, Charlie. This is the book bukowski was TRYING to write when he wrote FACTOTUM. I love Bukowski, but this is the real thing. It hangs in there. Fante turns the camera on the main character while the others are mere foils for deeper probing. Whereas Bukowski builds a picture of society around his characters, Fante here truly explores values and value through one man's eyes. If you pick this book up and hate it, read it anyway. If you don't understand it, struggle through. If the only other book you've read is the bible, read this. Feel free to be offended, feel rejection and dejection. If you love Bukowski, you'll really like this. If you don't love Buk, that's okay too because Fante keeps the story moving without taking us all the way into the gutter. -Mike
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66 of 75 people found the following review helpful By TUCO H. on October 11, 2000
Format: Paperback
The first 13 chapters or so are absolutely fantastic, super-poetic, naturalistic writing; as good as most of Hemingway (king of the overrated writers) and post-Death-on-the-Installment-Plan Celine. The deep hatred that's the flipside of love is here in its most brutally tragic and truthful form in the scenes between Camilla and Bandini. Some people don't respond to these scenes because they've never bothered to examine these feelings in themselves (though they've definitely had them), they've just ignored and repressed them. Not Fante. No way! Fante's out to force readers to face these feelings in themselves, and it's so annoying, it hurts! But that's what good naturalistic writing is supposed to do: HURT. If you can't deal with it go read some moralistic, 'sympathetic,' nonsense; there are thousands of books of that type to choose from.
It should be obvious after reading the first chapter why Bukowski liked this book so much. Without Fante there would definitely never have been a Bukowski (whose stuff is distinctly original in subject matter, but much more commonplace in its writing style than this particular book by Fante anyway).
The smell and feel of Los Angeles in the '30s is damn near palpable. Things come alive in concise, economically crafted sentences, on an an almost "Day of the Locust" level.
Starting with the earthquake chapter things run out of steam for a while before picking up again towards the end.
For a simple 'little' book written in 1939 to still continue to affect readers in 2000 is no mean feat. "Ask the Dust" is like a cross between Nathaniel West, William Saroyan, and, yes, good old Bukowski (without the scatology, of course). And though I wouldn't put it on the same level as Hemingway's "Green Hills of Africa," or Celine's "Journey to the End of the Night," it's definitely one for the 'ages' (whatever the hell that means).
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Palisades Reader on February 21, 2006
Format: Paperback
In the past 3 years I have read about 75 books about Los Angeles, both fact and fiction, and I place this among the very best. It is a very fast read, and one that cannot easily be put down. It so beautifully and explicitly describes 1930s Los Angeles and all its dark features. I found myself angry with Arturo and Camilla for not just coming to their senses and being rationale about their love for each other, but saw the beauty in this book in that it was showing the underbelly and other side of life that dust rather than sunshine hits. Historians like to talk about Los Angeles being Heaven vs. Hell or Sunshine vs. Noir or the Land of Eden or not. This book clearly demonstrates that all are not blessed in this land of "Eden" and that many people must deal with real live issues even in Los Angeles, where the sun shines all the time, palm trees wisp in the ocean breezes and everybody is a happy movie star. The blowing Santa Ana dust was a brilliant metaphor for all that takes place in this masterpiece. I can't wait to see the movie when it comes out. It probably wont do justice to this book, but it will help publicize how great Fante was as a great contributor to literary fiction.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By TheIrrationalMan on June 8, 2001
Format: Paperback
Fante's rebel anti-hero, Arturo Bandini, a writer with the honour of having had one short story published in a magazine, strolls into a cafe, in which he meets a Mexican waitress, Camilla Lopez, and they embark on a bizarre and stormy love-hate relationship, eventually descending into the realms of madness. John Fante, one of the greatest of, though unsung, geniuses of American fiction presents here one of the most marvellous of coming-of-age novels. Though the prose is spare, economical and concise, Fante manages to evoke effects of the most opulent splendour and most lyrical subtlety. He also manages to explore, with a great measure of success, the psychological dimension probed by Dostoevsky and Hamsun, in his recording the caprices and the most perverse quirks of his characters' behaviour. Bandini is an endearing creation, conceited, megalomaniacal and sensitive in a sometimes comic, sometimes sympathetic way. Some of the encounters in this book and the satirical banter of the characters is immensely humorous.
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