Friday, June 02, 2006

Reading. Fante.

I was looking for something to read (you knew I would begin this way, didn't you?) and somehow stumbled across Ask the Dust, by John Fante. I had never heard of it before. But I opened it and I read the foreward, and the foreward was written by (and you probably saw this one coming) Charles Bukowski, and Bukowski was saying all these things about Fante that, well, I have been feeling about Bukowski for the past year. Only I do most of my reading in a bookstore over in Bellevue where people who drive expensive automobiles go and drink overpriced coffee while reading magazines, instead of in the downtown L.A. library where you went "when you had nothing to drink or to eat, and the landlady was looking for you and for the back rent money." And I found my copy of this book on the internet, paid for it with a credit card, had it delivered by UPS. (Fast and free shipping, they call it, which means in the three days it takes for the book to arrive I have already forgotten what I'd ordered, and it is such a thrill to rip open the package to see what is waiting for me inside, the paper covers cool in my hands, the pages bright and new and crisp, swathed in recyclable plastic bubblewrap. It's better than Christmas). "Fante was my god,"* Bukowski writes, and as he is mine I wanted to see where this would take me.

There is something clean about Fante's writing, the way the words slip through your fingers like sand, or cool water, that loose effortlessness. Somehow everything in Los Angeles seems bright and beautiful and sparkling (or maybe it just seems that way, a hazy memory, a dream, and living there is nothing like merely visiting), and this story of a young writer trying to become a writer has something of that feeling to it. I have never read anything like it before. It is like a dream.

I think I have a new god.

*Fante, John. Ask the Dust. Harper Perennial Modern Classics, 2006. pp 5-6.

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