“Los Angeles come to me the way I came to you … you sad flower in the sand.” Come join us Sept. 19 for John Fante’s “Ask the Dust”!

“All at once I was full of plans. Laguna Beach!” John Fante (1909-1983)

Please join us at Stanford on for a discussion of John Fante‘s 1939 novel Ask the Dust at 7 p.m. (PST) on Tuesday, Sept. 19, at Levinthal Hall in the Stanford Humanities Center, 424 Santa Teresa Street on the Stanford campus. It’s a hybrid event, so come virtually or in person. Registration here or below.

Something you may not have known about Fante. He was the son of Italian immigrants, born in 1909 (he died in 1983). Hence, Italy considers him one of its own. So we’re partnering with the Italian Cultural Institute of San Francisco for the event!

Poet Charles Bukowski (not Italian) said the book had a lifetime influence on his own writing, and that the works of Fante, a novelist, short story writer, and screenwriter, were “written of and from the gut and the heart.”

“One day I pulled Ask the Dust down from the library book shelf and stood for a moment, reading.  Then like a man who had found gold in a city dump, I carried the book to a table.  The beginning of that book was a wild and enormous miracle for me….Fante became my god.” 

The book was adapted into a 2006 film starring Colin Farrell and Salma Hayek.

Panelists will include Stanford Prof. Robert Pogue Harrison, author, director of Another Look, host of the radio talk show and podcast series Entitled Opinions, and a regular contributor to the New York Review of Books, and Stanford Prof. Tobias Wolff, one of America’s leading writers and the founding director of Another Look, as well as a recipient of the National Medal of Arts. Novelist Terry Gamble will round out the panel. Many will remember her from the Another Look discussion of Alfred Hayes‘s My Face for the World to See in 2019.

Copies are available as in Kindle and paperback. (In a pinch, the book is even available in a less user-friendly pdf format online.)

In addition to the Italian Cultural Institute of San Francisco, this event is co-sponsored by the Continuing Studies Program and the Division of Literatures, Cultures, and Languages at Stanford.


Postscript: There’s more! Read about how Fante’s Ask the Dust turned around the life of a convict: here. What happens to a civilization that grows up alongside the constant vision of dust? Read novelist Alan Rifkin’s take on that here.

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