Saturday, March 20, 2010

Whither Fante

There was a considerable grain tempering my reception Ask The Dust; most notably was its championing by Bukowski: it should be noted that I read Bukowski quite late, prompted by Jake Pfau and amplified by Joel's largess, that said, I can't consider him the highest authority. That accepted, Fante didn't pen a Call It Sleep for the city of angels, no, he sought the tales of the forgotten, the failures, the casualties of life, those demi-people who percolate most noticeably in urban hives. This was shimmering novel of pain, poverty and poetic meditation on the flaccidity of the flesh.

Ask The Dust belongs in an arc which includes Hunger, The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter and Death On The Installment Plan. Like all literature of the hidden and dispossessed, there is a great deal of Dostoevsky active in its pages, especially that of The Gambler. One could note the Americaness of it all, the son of immigrants who resorts quickly to slurs in times of duress. Such is not unique to the novel and it isn't quite prominent within. Fante's painting the locale of Los Angeles as haunted by failure and dust is a worthy achievement.

I want to thank Ed for this selection.

I finished Crow Road Thursday evening and felt that it ultimately attempted a turn of narrative which left me cold, if not annoyed. It materializes that a family drama alebit rife with tension errant subplots becomes a murder intrigue in the final 90 pages with cardboard culprits and serial implausibility. Shame, shame.


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