Unanimously recognized as Fante’s greatest achievement this book tells the story of Arturo Bandini, a wannabe writer from Colorado looking for glory and inspiration on the streets of Los Angeles.
One day Arturo walks in a third-rate bar where the beer is cheap and smells acid ordering a coffee with his last 5 cents. The coffee tastes like rags’ rinse but what catches his attention is Camilla Lopez, the waitress, a Mexican that he admits isn’t beautiful yet attractive. The two start a complex and confused relationship that Fante renders beautifully in all its nuances of love, anger, revenge and hopelessness.
One could argue that Fante is what James Joyce would have wanted to be if faith hadn’t tasked him to come up with the stream of consciousness. Arturo’s thoughts flow effortlessly uncovering the weakest part of its persona and leaving the man’s raw flesh to react to the world around him.
Ask the Dust is part of Arturo Bandini’s saga together with Wait until Spring, Bandini, The Road to Los Angeles and Dreams of Bunker Hill a book that John, while blind due to diabetes, dictated to his wife Joyce shortly before his death. The main carachter of this series is John Fante’s alter ego: the son of Italian immigrants in search of glory with an authoritative father and a loving mother.
In 2006 Robert Towne directed the movie from this book starring Colin Farrel as Arturo and Salma Hayek as the Mexican Camilla Lopez.