Saturday, November 24, 2012

Excerpt from ASK THE DUST by John Fante

I climbed out the window and scaled the incline to the top of Bunker Hill.  A night for my nose, a feast for my nose, smelling the stars, smelling the flowers, smelling the desert, and the dust asleep, across the top of Bunker Hill.  The city spread out like a Christmas tree, red and green and blue.  Hello, old house, beautiful hamburgers singing in cheap cafes, Bing Crosby singing too.  She'll treat me gently.  Not those girls of my childhood, those girls of my boyhood, those girls of my university days.  They frightened me, they were diffident, they refused me; but not my princess, because she will understand.  She, too, has been scorned.

Bandini, walking along, not tall but solid, proud of his muscles, squeezing his fist to revel in the hard delight of his biceps, absurdly fearless Bandini, fearing nothing but the unknown in a world of mysterious wonder.  Are the dead restored?  The books say no, the night shouts yes.  I am twenty, I have reached the age of reason, I am about to wander the streets below, seeking a woman.  Is my soul already smirched, should I turn my back, does an angel watch over me, do the prayers of my mother allay my fear, do the prayers of my mother annoy me?

Ten dollars: it will pay the rent for two and a half weeks, it will buy me three pairs of shoes, two pair of pants, or one thousand postage stamps to send material to the editors; indeed!  But you haven't any material, your talent is dubious, your talent is pitiful, you haven't any talent, and stop lying to yourself day after day because you know The Little Dog Laughed is no good, and it will always be no good.

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