Monday, June 4, 2007
The Road to Los Angeles
So we've moved on from the harrowing account of a young mans fight for survival in Southern Sudan to the harrowing tale of Arturo Bandini, a young Italian-American trying to make his own footprint on the world in "The Road to Los Angeles" by John Fante. Arturo is an overly well read and undermotivated kid who just can't seem to take anything serious for any amount of time. Each of his shortlived jobs, needed to support his mother and sister, are broken up between fits of imagination, excursions into his own fantasy world where he obsesses about people worshiping him, loving him, and being terrified by him. He fantasizes about women, then immediately feels guilty, almost dirty about his expansive fantasies in which he rules over a woman who passionately needs and desires him. He then makes a big production of shredding the pages he is fantasizing over, telling himself that the women will be what destroys him, and that he must destroy all of the women.
Arturo Bandini is ambitious, in a sense, yet completely unmotivated. Each day, each hour, he thinks of something new to occupy his imagination, some new grand scheme that will pull him out of the stagnant world he lives in, away from his nagging mother and sister, and into greatness. He is convinced that he will be a great author and philosopher in the vein of Nitzche or Schopenhauer, and that his devoutely religious and pragmatic family are just holding him back. He is sure he is destined for immortality, except he is completely unable to hold a job together or put together a worthwhile sentence. He is untalented, unmotivated but insanely imaginative and determined to fit into no one's mold but his own. In a sense, Arturo Bandini is the Holden Caufield of the west coast, an immigrant-american rebel, eternal loser and constantly convinced of his own superiority over the "little people".