Naming of John Fante Square
Postscript: to see photos from this event, click here.
You are cordially invited to gather with John Fante’s family and fans for a celebration of the 101st anniversary of the author’s birth, as Councilmember Jan Perry (CD 9) officially re-names the intersection of 5th Street & Grand Avenue John Fante Square.
ABOUT THE EVENT: Please note that the dedication, originally scheduled for noon, is now starting at 11am. Following the formal dedication with short speeches from members of the Fante family, scholars and public officials, there will be a loosely structured free walking tour of John Fante’s lost and surviving downtown (starting around 11:30am), including a stroll up to Bunker Hill, a ride on the newly re-opened Angels Flight Railway, no-host lunch stop in Grand Central Market, ending up at the King Edward Saloon, which has declared April 8 to be John Fante Day, and is the last Skid Row bar and which was the place where the b-girls took Arturo Bandini’s royalty check in “Ask the Dust.”
You might also enjoy: John Fante’s Dreams from Bunker Hill bus tour (April 17)
The location of John Fante Square has been carefully chosen for its symbolism. 5th Street and Grand Avenue is the foot of the old Bunker Hill neighborhood where he lived and of which he wrote, and it was in the adjacent Central Library that the poverty-stricken young writer drank deeply of fiction and poetry. Years later, a young Charles Bukowski discovered “Ask the Dust” on the shelves at Central Library, and was himself inspired to become a writer. Fante Square’s nomination was initially proposed by LAVA founder Richard Schave, and made possible through the support of Councilmembers Jan Perry and Jose Huizar.
ABOUT JOHN FANTE: John Fante came to Los Angeles from Colorado in the midst of the Depression and soon found himself in a boarding house on Bunker Hill. Working odd jobs at the eastern foot of the hill and fortifying himself on a steady stream of reading material from the Central Library, he eventually became a published author—an event immortalized through the achievements of his anti-hero alter-ego Arturo Bandini in the classic 1939 novel “Ask The Dust.” Both the novel and the year are considered watersheds in Los Angeles’ literary history (“Day of the Locust,” “The Big Sleep,” “After Many A Summer Dies The Swan”).
Fante soon left downtown to raise a family and begin a lifetime career as a screenwriter in Hollywood. But the downtown Los Angeles of his youth remained alive in his imagination, and in 1982, blind and nearing the end of his life, he dictated his last novel, “Dreams From Bunker Hill,” to his wife Joyce.
The impact of Fante’s work on the wrap and weft of Los Angeles’ rich cultural heritage is significant. The lost world of old Bunker Hill—a populated and thriving neighborhood overlooking the teeming civic bustle of downtown—immortalized in his novels captivates readers from almost every continent and shows the universality and abiding draw of Fante’s prose.