Movies: Love, Death and L.A.

In his 1939 novel Ask The Dust, John Fante looked at the folks around him in Los Angeles and saw "faces with the blood drained away, tight faces, worried, lost. Faces like flowers torn from their roots and stuffed into a pretty vase, the colors draining fast."

Fante's novel was a dirge-hymn to L.A. at the time when the first wave of immigrants, teeming west from the plains and north from Mexico, collided in a movie dream gone sour. Published to little note, it slowly found important devotees. Charles Bukowski, L.A.'s signature outlaw author, used to channel the book's hero, shouting "I am...

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