Arturo Bandini is a twenty-year-old burgeoning writer, spending his days hungry for success, life and food in a dingy hotel in Los Angeles. Full of the enthusiasm of youth, and the thrill of having one short story published, the reality of poverty and prejudice has hit him hard. He meets a local waitress, Camilla Lopez, and embarks on a strange and strained love-hate relationship. Slowly, but inexorably, it descends into the realms of madness. Fante depicts the highs and lows of the emotional state of Bandini with conviction, but without easy sentiment. In Ask the Dust, Fante is truly 'telling it like it is' as a poverty-stricken son of an immigrant in 'perfect' California.