The Road to Los Angeles

The Road to Los Angeles - John Fante I think every writer would ultimately admit, that out of all the books they’ve read, there was one that stood above the rest. One that lit a fire in them. A book that changed their idea of what writing could be. A book that in the end helped to shape their career as an artist and perhaps touched their life. For me that book was, The Road to Los Angeles.
I was in my early twenties, depressed, living in this tiny apartment that leaked when it rained and perpetually had ants, trying to write, reading all the Bukowski I could find, and feeling marginalized. I was looking for something, but I didn’t know what. Like most people my age I was trying to find my place in a rapidly changing world.
At any rate, I soon finished all of Bukowski and found myself with nothing to do. After being steeped in the world of “the dirty old-man” for so long, how could one be expected to go back to the Bronte sisters or Melville? I just couldn’t do it. I was jonesing like a junkie. In an attempt to sate my hunger I went back and poured through all the Bukowski I had read. I decided I would read any writer of worth he had mentioned in his books. Perhaps they would be the Methadone to slowly wing me from the intense grip “the poet laureate of skid row” had on me.
Sadly it wasn’t the case. I read them all: Celine, Hamsun, Saroyan, Li Po (and while all excellent in their own right); none of them packed the punch that Bukowski did. Then, at my wits end, I finally came Fante –The Road to Los Angeles, specifically.
It was like striking gold! Here was this crazy little book written in the 30’s screaming at me through time, and daring me not to relate. Like Bukowski, the language was cleverly simple and fresh. Short declarative sentences one after the other. Like bullets being fired from a gun. They burrowed in you stinging all the way. Yet they carried a warmth and love I never felt in Bukowski or any other writer for that matter. The pain was mixed with humor, making you want to laugh and cry at the same time (a technique I often try to mimic in my own writing).
In Arturo Bandini I found a fellow brother in arms, as desperately eager to impress people with his knowledge (as I was), regardless of how pompous he might look. A wiseass who covered up his low self-esteem with a veneer of biting sarcasm. A misfit and an outcast. A lonely intellect forged through erudition. A lost soul struggling to find his way. A madman.
Like Bukowski before him, I would soon consume all the Fante I could find. Dissecting and studying his style like an eager student. And although all of his books should be considered national treasures, none of them are as dear to me as the first one I read –The Road to Los Angeles. A book full of insanity, character, and most importantly –love.

-Steven Eggleton, author of [b:Dry Heat|20912181|Dry Heat|Steven Eggleton||40277500]