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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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Prelude to “Prologue to Ask the Dust

Prelude to “Prologue to Ask the Dust

(p.281) Prelude to “Prologue to Ask the Dust
John Fante's Ask the Dust

Stephen Cooper

Fordham University Press

In this talk, delivered at the 2014 California State University, Long Beach, symposium celebrating the 75th anniversary of the publication of Ask the Dust, Cooper recounts the story of how he came to discover a remarkable letter, to that point unknown, written by John Fante in 1933. Addressed to fellow Italian American writer Jo Pagano, who like Fante had ventured west from Colorado to seek writing success in Los Angeles, the letter provides insight into the crippling doubts and frustrations that burdened the young Fante even as it reveals his deep-seated confidence that he would one day write a great novel. Published here for the first time, this letter prefigures another remarkable Fante letter, the one written in 1938 that is now known as the Prologue to Ask the Dust.

Keywords:   Ask the Dust, Flaubert, Maupassant, mentor, Jo Pagano, prologue, writer’s block

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