Print March 13, 2023 6 comments
John Fante’s Ask the DustAnthony Bavaria
John Fante’s Ask the Dust is one of my favorite stories, although it feels like a bit of a guilty pleasure. I rarely reread books, usually favoring something new instead, but have made an exception for what has been referred to as the Los Angeles novel. Though the tale takes place during the Great Depression, there’s something about it that exemplifies urban California living, and certain aspects of it feels like it could have been written merely a decade ago. Fante’s alter ego, Arturo Bandini, encounters several instances of racial strife throughout the story that serve as an eerie template for the future of Los Angeles, the United States, and Western civilization as a whole.
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“There are certainly no more Smiths and Joneses and Parkers; there aren’t even any Fantes or Bandinis — but there are certainly a lot of Lopezes. Unsurprisingly, the city no longer resembles a place built by white people.”
Reminds me of Lovecraft’s first published poem – Providence 2000 – written in 1912. In it, Lovecraft envisions his hometown of Providence in 2000. He portrays it as populated by Poles, Irish, Portuguese, etc. with the Anglos (like him) all gone.
Of course, the ethnic whites are mostly gone from Providence now as well (whites were about 33% in the 2020 Census).
Never head of that poem and thanks for mentioning it, I’ll check it out.
It’s also hysterical to me that even the king or horror and dystopia himself couldn’t fathom just how bad things would get.
Wow, thanks for this review. I had never heard of this writer, but if he means so much to the author, I will try to read this book!
Even movies from as recent as the 90s, like Across the Tracks, present a whistful portrait of a white, not overpopulated SoCal that is gone forever.
Falling Down is my favorite LA movie. Nightcrawler is a distant second, nothing too race related in it like Falling Down, but it shows, in the most general sense, media manipulation and one of the many creepy underbelly’s of the city.
I LOVE nightcrawler! Not too much on falling down.
My point was that you can see in movies of the not too distant past the California of yesterday, like a white eden we can never return to. I find it saddening.
Same here, huge bummer.
I remember this video from a while back, nothing revelatory, but succinctly explains the state’s demise.
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