Ask the Dust Summary & Study Guide

This Study Guide consists of approximately 35 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of Ask the Dust.
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Ask the Dust Summary & Study Guide Description

Ask the Dust Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Topics for Discussion and a Free Quiz on Ask the Dust by John Fante.

Los Angeles in 1939 is a booming land of promise for Arturo Bandini, whose fondest dream is to become a real, published author. Having moved from a small town in Colorado, Bandini rides a roller coaster of emotions as he tries to make a life for himself in the big city. Arturo forms a stormy relationship with a Mexican waitress named Camilla Lopez, who becomes an obsession for him nearly as powerful as his career. Their mutual love and hatred for one another, and for themselves, provides an intensely dark comedy that exposes their inner conflicts, their racial bigotry and their low self-esteem as they struggle to survive in a contrived culture to which neither will ever really belong. Arturo loves Camilla; Camilla loves Sammy; Sammy loves nobody; and eventually Camilla disappears—but her presence in his life makes Arturo a wiser, stronger person.

John Fante's description of Los Angeles during the depression—of gaunt faces and lost humanity—is haunting and riveting, told from the perspective of a young man who is not altogether stable. The smog, traffic, dust, grime and shallow lifestyles of southern California were already present in 1939, making this story relevant still today. The earthquake scene in the story is just as realistic as it might be today, complete with military intervention and the emergence of human kindness in the face of disaster.

Camilla, Arturo, Sammy, Vera and Hellfrick are all non-entities in the bustle of L.A. culture, but all are profoundly human in their suffering, confusion and vices. Each is battling a poor sense of self-worth while struggling to survive in an indifferent world. Arturo Bandini takes us through this story in intimate first-person, exposing us to his mood swings, his astute observations and his growth as an author and a man.

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