H.L. Mencken mentored him. Orson Welles collaborated with him. Charles Bukowski said of him, “Fante is my god.” Robert Towne, who found John Fante’s novel Ask the Dust while researching Chinatown, declared it “the greatest novel ever written about Los Angeles” and endeavored for 30 years to bring it to the screen.
On Thursday, April 8th, fans of Fante, one of L.A.’s greatest, under-appreciated writers, will be dancing in the streets…or more accurately, at 5th Street and Grand Avenue, when it is officially dedicated as John Fante Square by Councilpersons Jan Perry and Jose Huizar on the 101st anniversary of Fante’s birth. Fittingly, the Square is next to the Los Angeles Public Library, which was a constant source of reading material for the young writer and which is where Charles Bukowski discovered the work of his literary hero, and at the bottom of Bunker Hill, where Fante lived and worked and which he chronicled in the novels about his autobiographical anti-hero Arturo Bandini, creating a rich portrait of a now-lost downtown Los Angeles in the process.
The hour-long dedication ceremony will be attended by Fante’s family, fans and city officials, and followed by a free, loosely structured walking tour of John Fante’s beloved Bunker Hill neighborhood led by L.A. historian Richard Schave (also of Esotouric fame), who initially suggested the dedication and guided it through the City Council approval process. The tour will head up Bunker Hill (vastly changed since Fante’s day), take a ride on the recently opened Angel’s Flight (the “shortest railway in the world”), include a stop for a no-host lunch at Grand Central Market (on the ground floor of Los Angeles landmark, the Homer Laughlin building), and end up at King Eddy’s Saloon, the last dive bar in Los Angeles. King Eddy’s, which is featured in Ask the Dust, has declared April 8th “John Fante Day” and invites the public to “Party with us in honor of John and this special day.”
“Ah, Los Angeles!” John Fante wrote in Ask the Dust, “Dust and fog of your lonely streets, I am no longer lonely.”
Dedication of John Fante Square & walking tour
Dedication: 11:00AM – 12:00PM
South Grand Ave & West 5th Street
Los Angeles 90014
Novels in the Saga of Arturo Bandini (a.k.a. The Bandini Quartet)
The Road to Los Angeles (1933)
Wait Until Spring, Bandini (1938)
Ask the Dust (1939)
Dreams of Bunker Hill (1985)
Ready? U Know U Want 2 Go Go….