Ask the Dust by John Fante

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BookRags Literature Study Guide

Ask the Dust by John Fante

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Copyright Information

©2000-2012 BookRags, Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

The following sections of this BookRags Literature Study Guide is offprint from Gale's For Students Series: Presenting Analysis, Context, and Criticism on Commonly Studied Works: Introduction, Author Biography, Plot Summary, Characters, Themes, Style, Historical Context, Critical Overview, Criticism and Critical Essays, Media Adaptations, Topics for Further Study, Compare & Contrast, What Do I Read Next?, For Further Study, and Sources.

(c)1998-2002; (c)2002 by Gale. Gale is an imprint of The Gale Group, Inc., a division of Thomson Learning, Inc. Gale and Design® and Thomson Learning are trademarks used herein under license.

The following sections, if they exist, are offprint from Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction: "Social Concerns", "Thematic Overview", "Techniques", "Literary Precedents", "Key Questions", "Related Titles", "Adaptations", "Related Web Sites". (c)1994-2005, by Walton Beacham.

The following sections, if they exist, are offprint from Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults: "About the Author", "Overview", "Setting", "Literary Qualities", "Social Sensitivity", "Topics for Discussion", "Ideas for Reports and Papers". (c)1994-2005, by Walton Beacham.

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Plot Summary

Los Angeles in 1939 is a booming land of promise for Arturo Bandini, whose fondest dream is to become a real, published author. Having moved from a small town in Colorado, Bandini rides a roller coaster of emotions as he tries to make a life for himself in the big city. Arturo forms a stormy relationship with a Mexican waitress named Camilla Lopez, who becomes an obsession for him nearly as powerful as his career. Their mutual love and hatred for one another, and for themselves, provides an intensely dark comedy that exposes their inner conflicts, their racial bigotry and their low self-esteem as they struggle to survive in a contrived culture to which neither will ever really belong. Arturo loves Camilla; Camilla loves Sammy; Sammy loves nobody; and eventually Camilla disappears--but her presence in his life makes Arturo a wiser, stronger person.

John Fante's description of Los Angeles during the depression--of gaunt faces and lost humanity--is haunting and riveting, told from the perspective of a young man who is not altogether stable. The smog, traffic, dust, grime and shallow lifestyles of southern California were already present in 1939, making this story relevant still today. The earthquake scene in the story is just as realistic as it might be today, complete with military intervention and the emergence of human kindness in the face of disaster.

Camilla, Arturo, Sammy, Vera and Hellfrick are all non-entities in the bustle of L.A. culture, but all are profoundly human in their suffering, confusion and vices. Each is battling a poor sense of self-worth while struggling to survive in an indifferent world. Arturo Bandini takes us through this story in intimate first-person, exposing us to his mood swings, his astute observations and his growth as an author and a man.

Chapter 1 Summary

Los Angeles in 1939 is a booming land of promise for Arturo Bandini, whose fondest dream is to become a real, published author. Having moved from a small town in Colorado, Bandini rides a roller coaster of emotions as he...
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