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John Fante's Ask the DustA Joining of Voices and Views$
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Stephen Cooper and Clorinda Donato

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780823287864

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: January 2021

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823287864.001.0001

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Where Spirituality Ebbs and Flows: Religion and Diasporic Alienation in Ask the Dust

Where Spirituality Ebbs and Flows: Religion and Diasporic Alienation in Ask the Dust

(p.43) Where Spirituality Ebbs and Flows: Religion and Diasporic Alienation in Ask the Dust
John Fante's Ask the Dust

Suzanne Manizza Roszak

Fordham University Press

In recent scholarship on the work of John Fante, issues of spirituality and the sacred have not been a popular emphasis. Yet in Ask the Dust spirituality is intrinsically tied to representations of the Italian diasporic experience in the United States, including social alienation and selective accommodation, two key concepts in diaspora theory. Despite his self-professed Americanism, Fante’s protagonist Arturo Bandini faces alienation by members of Los Angeles’s white majority, and he hesitates to adopt entirely the social mores of this culture into which he has thrust himself. The ensuing ebb and flow of his spirituality becomes a barometer of both of these experiences. Bandini’s skepticism about organized religion and even the existence of God marks his attempts to shake off his Italian cultural inheritance and accommodate the norms of secular, consumerist America. At the same time, he exhibits almost violent bursts of investment and pride in Catholic doctrine and culture that indicate the depth of his alienation in 1930s Los Angeles. Tracing this ebb and flow of investment in the sacred allows us to reach a more nuanced understanding of both the novel and the Italian diasporic experience in the United States.

Keywords:   cultural accommodation, Italian diaspora, John Fante, social alienation, spirituality

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