Ask the Dust is about a young and upcoming writer, trying to seek fame by moving to Los Angeles. Arturo Bandini says, “Los Angeles, give me some of you! Los Angeles come to me the way I came to you, my feet over your streets, you pretty town I loved you so much, you sad flower in the sand, you pretty town!” Although, he soon discovers Los Angeles to be not so promising. Bandini eventually finds himself behind on rent, and struggling to pay the bills. By chance, he meets a Mexican-American waitress named Camilla Lopez whom he falls for. Lopez, like himself, is trying to achieve the “American Dream,” but finds it insurmountable.
So far, Ask the Dust is quite entertaining. I think the Fante does a fantastic job developing his characters. It’s easy for the reader to feel for Bandini and the problems facing him. In particular, I’m intrigued with the peculiar relationship Lopez and Bandini have with one another. The foundation of their relationship is based on shared feelings of loneliness, and because of this, it soon ends. Arturo says, “At a hamburger stand I stopped and ordered coffee. It crept upon me-the restlessness, the loneliness. What was the matter?… I searched, felt the fingers of my mind reaching out but not quite touching whatever it was back there that bothered me. Then it came to me like crashing and thunder, like death and destruction. I got up from the counter and walked away in fear, walking fast down the boardwalk, passing people who seemed strange and ghostly: the world seemed a myth, a transparent plane, and all things upon it were here for only a little while…”(Fante,144) Fante captures Arturo’s emotional state with perfection. I find the feeling of emptiness both in this quote and though out the story to be haunting and disturbing.