John Fante - Ask The Dust, 1939 [Does John Fante's Los Angeles Still Exist?]
"One night I was sitting on the bed in my hotel room on Bunker Hill, down in the very middle of Los Angeles."
John Fante was the quintessential Los Angeles writer. Fante is the writer Charles Bukowski probably wished he could be, and Bukowski spent much of his time trying to perfect his literary Fante impersonation (I'm not the only one saying that, Barfly lovers!)... If you want to see old Los Angeles on film, there are multiple choices: Billy Wilder's Double Indemnity (1944) and Sunset Boulevard (1950); Kent MacKenzie's The Exiles (1961); and the films of Charles Burnett and Jamaa Fanaka, among others. But if you're looking for a really good book about old school LA, Fante's book is exactly where you need to be. The first line of the book gives you a sense of place and a couple of reference points. Sometimes when I am thinking of different cities, I often wonder about how much of a particular city has been razed/torn down to build something new. Detroit, for example, lost the Black Bottom. NYC doesn't tear down as much as some cities, but parts of the LES have been torn down. This is a panel discussion which focused on Fante's Ask The Dust and whether or not the Bunker Hill of the novel still exists. The full discussion is available on Youtube.