John Fante's Ask the DustA Joining of Voices and Views

John Fante's Ask the DustA Joining of Voices and Views

Stephen Cooper and Clorinda Donato

Print publication date: 2021

ISBN: 9780823287864

Publisher: Fordham University Press


Eight decades after Ask the Dust first appeared, John Fante’s Ask the Dust: A Joining of Voices and Views shows how and why the once-forgotten novel continues to earn its place among the signal works of twentieth-century world literature in our own moment of the twenty-first. Gathered here are twenty responses to the novel from a wide variety of contributors, both American and Italian, including scholars, journalists, filmmakers, creative writers, translators, archive workers, a musicologist, a choreographer, and an American Indian who discovered the book while incarcerated in a California maximum-security prison. In recognizing the novel’s enduring attractions and evolving critical challenges, editors Cooper and Donato have orchestrated the volume’s contents to address both academic audiences and the countless word-of-mouth fans who have made Ask the Dust a perennial international classic. With its array of essays, interviews, talks, memoirs, and correspondence—including an important letter by Fante, newly discovered and published here for the first time—the volume raises Fante studies to a commanding level of significance through its diversity of perspectives on the cornerstone of the author’s oeuvre. Italian American to its core, the picaresque brio of Ask the Dust resonates all the more profoundly today as readers debate, reinterpret, and embrace the abiding truths of Arturo Bandini’s struggle with immigrant dreams, ethnic tensions, romantic love, existential demons, and the better angels of his inherited Catholic faith against the backdrop of that “sad flower in the sand,” the Depression-era city of Los Angeles.

Table of Contents

Front Matter

1. New Approaches to John Fante’s Ask the Dust

2. Sibling Arts: Ask the Dust in Dance, Music, the Graphic Novel, and French

Don’t Ask the French

Philippe Garnier

3. Ask the Dust and Its Effects: Readers and Writers Respond

Amid the Dust

Miriam Amico

Writing in the Dust

Alan Rifkin

4. Ask the Dust and Its Due: Two Filmmakers and Bukowski Pay Tribute

5. The Attic, the Archive, and Beyond