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John Fante gets a square

John FanteJohn Fante Square

Johnfante_profileOn Thursday at 11 a.m., Los Angeles City Councilwoman Jan Perry will gather with literary activists to officially name the corner of 5th and Grand streets in downtown Los Angeles "John Fante Square."

Fante, the author of "Ask the Dust," started his life as a writer like his best-known protagonist, Arturo Bandini -- down on his heels in the cheap rentals on Bunker Hill in Los Angeles. While much of the old Bunker Hill was razed in the 1960s for urban development, the corner of 5th and Grand, a block away from Pershing Square, bears a vague resemblance to the streets Fante tread.

"Los Angeles, give me some of you!" Fante wrote in "Ask the Dust." "Los Angeles come to me the way I came to you, my feet over your streets, you pretty town I loved you so much, you sad flower in the sand, you pretty town."

Eventually, Fante found success writing screenplays and moved west to a home by the beach. But he's best remembered as a chronicler of the streets of downtown, its unloved and overlooked residents, its dirty sidewalks and cheap bars.

In fact, the King Eddie Saloon, a surviving skid row dive that is said to make an appearance in "Ask the Dust," has declared Thursday John Fante Day. Fante event organizers Kim Cooper and Richard Schave and other bookish celebrants may show up after the square gets its new name, sometime around noon.

The truly down and out in downtown Los Angeles may get started earlier; the King Edward Saloon opens for drinking business at 6 a.m.

-- Carolyn Kellogg

Photo: John Fante. Credit: File.

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Oh, Los Angeles, wings ridden with gold dust...
Glorify, oh, those men that trod your streets...
Filling their pockets with flecks of sparkling metal...
From off your wings...

'In the novella The Orgy, which was published in West of Rome (1986), Jimmy discovers his father and his friend having sex with a prostitute at a deserted mine.'

In my opinin, "Blech!"

I am holding out for Bukowski Square!

Fante is one of our overlooked, underpraised great writers who should be up there with Fitzgerald/Steinbeck/Faulkner.

thank you for mentioning a very important LA Writer instead of celebrity junk.

Bukowski Square? How about Bukowski Court--landmarked in 2008?


yesssss, this is way more interesting than any junk celeb story. post more stuff like THIS!! i love john fante.


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