Ask the Dust is the story of Arturo Bandini, a young 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 Bandini forever rejects the writer's life he fought so hard to attain.
My first collision with fame was hardly memorable. I was a busboy at Marx's Deli. The year was 1934. The place was Third and Hill, Los Angeles. I was twenty-one years old, living in a world bounded on the west by Bunker Hill, on the east by Los Angeles Street, on the south by Pershing Square, and on the north by Civic Center. I was a busboy nonpareil, with great verve and style for the profession, and though I was dreadfully underpaid (one dollar a day plus meals) I attracted considerable attention as I whirled from table to table, balancing a tray on one hand, and eliciting smiles from my customers. I had something else beside a waiter's skill to offer my patrons, for I was also a writer.
Henry Molise, a 50 year old, successful writer, returns to the family home to help with the latest drama; his aging parents want to divorce. Henry's tyrannical, brick laying father, Nick, though weak and alcoholic, can still strike fear into the hearts of his sons. His mother, though ill and devout to her Catholicism, still has the power to comfort and confuse her children. This is typical of Fante's novels, it's autobiographical, and brimming with love, death, violence and religion. Writing with great passion Fante powerfully hits home the damage family can wreck upon us all.
A powerful, lyrical and touching tale of a turbulent adolescent trying to break out of the suffocating, prison-like confinements of family, poverty and religion in a small town, Wait Until Spring, Bandini tells the story of a winter in the childhood of Arturo Bandini, oldest son of Italian immigrants living in Colorado during the Great Depression. With its powerful and evocative account of tragic love affairs, grinding poverty and adolescence in turmoil, this first novel from the Bandini quartet is a much-neglected masterpiece of modern American literature.
It's not every day that a writer, almost unheard of in his lifetime, emerges twenty years after his death as a voice of his generation. But then again, there aren't many writers with such irrepressible genius as John Fante.
The John Fante Reader is the important next step in the reintroduction of this influential author to modern audiences. Combining excerpts from his novels and stories, as well as his never-before-published letters, this collection is the perfect primer on the work of a writer -- underappreciated in his time -- who is finally taking his place in the pantheon of twentieth-century American writers.
West of Rome's two novellas, "My Dog Stupid" and "The Orgy," fulfill the promise of their rousing titles. The latter novella opens with virtuoso description: "His name was Frank Gagliano, and he did not believe in God. He was that most singular and startling craftsman of the building trade-a left-handed bricklayer. Like my father, Frank came from Torcella Peligna, a cliff-hugging town in the Abruzzi. Lean as a spider, he wore a leather cap and puttees the year around, and he was so bowlegged a dog could lope between his knees without touching them."