Ask the Dust

Ask the Dust

Ask the Dust – John Fante

Hat tip to a departed friend, and a news feed that included the LA Review of Books, which, late in the evening, had a passing reference to this novel, Ask the Dust.

Recently, I checked out of the digital library, The Big Sleep (Raymond Chandler), only to discover, I had read it a few years ago, when I was trying to fill in gaps in my own education, literary or not-so-literary.

“I have wanted women whose very shoes are worth all I have ever possessed.” Page 15.

Almost random comment that I found intriguing, as a stand-alone pull-quote.

Perhaps that dated novel is nothing more than savage journey into the heart of the American dream?

The notion of race relations surfaces as a thematic element. A Mexican who was born in (So.) Cal., is part of the question, but the elements run deeper as the narrator is of Italian-American descent, with the usual slurs. The text is dated, out-of-date, in places, with street slang.

There’s a plainness of prose, as the character struggles.

Reading the novel, weird, the place becomes a character, of sorts. Not really, but the backdrop, So. Cal. from days of yore? Didn’t figure it out, as the touch was subtle, wrapped in that “plain prose,” deceptively simple at times. Sparse.

“Los Angeles was doomed. It was a city with a curse upon it.” Page 120.

Setting a tone, dark, with a coming of age in an age of innocence.

Writing that has the quality of a Hopper painting. That summed it up, and there was a reason, too, same era. In some cases, same location be my guess.

But — there was a time, when it was possible, to go to California, and have all the dreams come true.

Ask the Dust – John Fante

About the author: Born and raised in East Texas, Kramer Wetzel, settled in a South Austin trailer park before trailer parks were cool. He now lives in San Antonio, Texas.

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