Ask the Dust is a popular novel by John Fante about Arturo Bandini, an Italian-American writer who struggles with his determination in an attempt to write a story that would strike the audience and make him a recognized writer. He is in search of inspiration and all he is doing is rushing here and there to find a hint of something that would make him write at least several lines of his new novel. However, nothing seems to inspire him and his existence is confined to desperate searching. From the very beginning of the account, Fante focuses on existential issues and describes the protagonist from the first person to show that Bandini is his alter ego. The introductory part of the novel focuses on the daily routine in which the writer is involved.
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As a result, Bandini is attached to details and watches people surrounding him in the street. Probably, that is the only way to find the starting point. Arturo Bandini seems to be empty, lost, and pathetic. He is constantly observing each detail of human behavior to find out reasons why some people are exhausted and self-deluded. Most of the people described by the protagonist seem to be alienated from society. Bandini finally finds a Mexican girl Camilla Lopez who becomes the center of his obsessions, which played an important role in his writer’s career. Their relationships expressed by inner conflicts, racial bigotry, and mutual love and hatred deliver a dark comedy exposing the struggle for survival. The novel, therefore, is not about a writer who wants to write a book, but a man who is in search of self-identity and recognition. He wants to become a famous writer to get rid of the lack of self-esteem.