Ask the Dust is a virtuoso performance by an influential master of the twentieth-century American novel. It is the story of Arturo Bandini, a young writer in 1930s Los Angeles who falls hard for the elusive, mocking, unstable Camilla Lopez, a Mexican waitress. Struggling to survive, he perseveres until, at last, his first novel is published. But the bright light of success is extinguished when Camilla has a nervous breakdown and disappears . . . and Bandini forever rejects the writer's life he fought so hard to attain.
But this was expensive. Take it easy, Arturo; have you forgotten those oranges? I counted what was left. It was twenty dollars and some cents. I was scared. I racked my brains over figures, added everything I had spent. Twenty dollars left - impossible! I had been robbed, I had misplaced the money, there was a mistake somewhere. I looked over the room, burrowed into pockets and drawers, but that was all, and I was scared and worried and determined to go to work, write another one quick, something written so fast it had to be good. I sat before my typewriter and the great awful void descended, and I beat my head with my fists, put a pillow under my aching buttocks and made little noises of agony. It was useless.