Western History & Genealogy Blog

John Fante: The Colorado Author of Ask the Dust

Ask The Dust. Paramount Pictures, 2006
Fante, Dan. Fante: A Family's Legacy of Writing, Drinking, and Surviving. New York: Harper Perennial, 2011.

In the preface to the 1979 edition of John Fante’s novel, Ask The Dust, Charles Bukowski discusses his search for inspiration. The voices of the classic writers bored him. He was looking for someone who was poor, crazy, and full of life like him. He found his inspiration in John Fante. Fante was born in Denver and grew up in Boulder in a poor, immigrant Italian family. Many of his stories take place in Colorado or deal with immigrant themes. His first novel, Wait Until Spring, Bandini (1939), portrays an Italian family in Boulder and the poverty and struggles they face. Ask the Dust, now a major motion picture with Colin Farrell and Salma Hayek, tells the story of an Italian-American and Mexican-American in Los Angeles, both poor and rootless and fighting discrimination, and the incendiary romance they share. Click the above links to see the catalog records for the first editions of both novels, which we house in Western History in Genealogy, or simply come into our department to see them. Search DPL’s catalog to find other books by this important Colorado author. To find even more info on Fante, including his newspaper obituary, search our Western History Subject Index. For info on the above pictures, click here and here.