Ask the Dust

So originally one might think there is no point in Fante’s Ask The Dust. One would be right. The occasional action, I believe, Fante throws in just so the reader won’t go completely crazy because just reading a book that is only mere musings (ahem… Walden…) is absolutely horrible.

Don’t get me wrong; This is a good book.

So to answer the question- why do we have to read this book? The entire time I was reading, I was frequently reminded of Hemingway’s Nick Adams stories, and Nick’s desperation, his fear of feeling nothing, of being lost forever. Bandini is the same way. He wants sex, he feels once he finally has it he will be a “man,” but every chance he gets he chickens out. And, once he actually does it, he is terrified God is going to smite him for his sin.

Another common theme between Fante and Hemingway is the theme of death. When Bandini finally realizes he is going to die, that everyone dies, it is so striking. Then he is mocking Sammy’s writing because it is not good enough, but then he realizes Sammy is just like him; “a man like myself, who would probably be swallowed by the desert sooner than I, and in my hand I held an effort of his, an expression of his struggle against the implacable silence toward which he was being hurled.” In the end, I guess we all just want to live forever, and perhaps writing is a way of achieving that.

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