Ask The Dust by John Fante

I chose Ask the Dust by John Fante because it's one of my favorite books, and no one else had chosen it in the class (too many Gatsbys and Lolitas!). It's set in 1930s Los Angeles and follows Arturo Bandini, a writer living in the Bunker Hill section of downtown LA, struggling to make it. He is full of passion and bursting with life, his highs are very high, and his lows are very low. He's had one story published and survives on that short-lived success, forever trying to recreate it. He lives in a building on the side of Bunker Hill, so the lobby is on the first floor at the top of the hill, and the subsequent floors go down the hill. Next to his building, the funicular Angel's Flight rolls up and down the hill all day, saving pedestrians the trek up the steep hill. I did not re-read the book, but I have read it countless times and these were the images that stood out to me and seemed like good possibilities for visual interpretation for this drop cap.

I chose A, for Arturo, for Ask the Dust, for Angel's Flight. Below are my notes on themes and images throughout the book, and my main visual concept, the letter leaning against the steep hillside.

My first thought was a typewriter-type A, but that seemed limiting, so I started researching 1930s fonts and found the most common and most 30s-feeling form for the A was with a heavy right stroke and a light left stroke. I sketched a few small letterforms to get a feel, and I stumbled on the idea of having the heavy stroke be the building, so I sketched a version of that.

Then I started researching images of Angel's Flight and I had forgotten how geometric it is, and I got the idea to have the heavy stroke be the funicular going up the hillside, which would allow for a lot of cool geometric patterns in the rail line and the car itself.

I am going to think on it for a couple days and would appreciate any feedback! I think I am leaning towards (no pun intended) the Angel's Flight concept, but not 100% sure yet.

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