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Paperback Letters at 3am Book

ISBN: 0882143611

ISBN13: 9780882143613

Letters at 3am

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Book Overview

From a strip club in Indiana to ritual gatherings near Austin, Texas—from Brooklyn in the 50s to L.A. in the 90s—Michael Ventura takes us on a tour of the American psyche and speaks out on a... This description may be from another edition of this product.

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

Messages from a place where few dare to tread

Since first stumbling across Michael Ventura's work, I've done my best to read as much of it as possible, both his fiction & non-fiction. He has clearly descended into the underworld more than once, wrestled with demons, soared with ecstasies -- and returned to report it all in prose that's psychologically & spiritually rich. And by "spiritually," I don't mean some vague, vaporous, undefined vista of fluffy clouds & golden sunbeams & skimmed milk niceness that might have been produced by Thomas Kinkade! When you genuinely encounter the Gods/the Psyche/the Mystery, it's a struggle with immense forces both destructive & redemptive ... and the redemptive side might demand far more of you in the end. This series of essays about America in the late 1980s-early 1990s examines the soul of the country, the unconscious hopes & fears of its people. His writing on the Gulf War might have seemed out of date in the years immediately following, but the disaster in Iraq has made it all terribly relevant again. The same is true of his writing about the scarred, yearning, tormented soul of America itself. He has seen the darkness coming & done his best to prepare us for it. And his more personal essays wind up having just as much to tell us as those on wider topics. Ventura is nothing if not passionate! That's clearly his blood & sweat on every page, torn from his wounds, his wonder, his ever-searching soul. He's uncompromising without ever becoming dogmatic or off-putting, and he'll always make you think. Sometimes you'll want to embrace him, sometimes you'll want to shake him in a rage -- but you won't be unmoved. Clearly the time is ripe for a collection of his more recent writing, which can be found in various places online. Until that happens, though, this potent volume is your best introduction to his non-fiction work. This is a truly American voice, prophetic & anguished & still somehow hopeful. Most urgently recommended!

A Student

Michael Ventura teaches at my school. Often he has read things to us in his writing class, and sometimes they have been things he himself has written. He is incredibly wise, wheather he knows it or not, and is a voice that should be heard. Buy this book because, and trust me on this as a student of his, you will not regret it.

The New American Bible--Once

This collection of essays blew my mind in a big way when I first stumbled onto them in the early 90s. Of course, I was a fan of Ventura's "LA Weekly" column, from which many of these essays come. And Ventura read these essays on Pacifica's KPFK here in Los Angeles, so hearing his magnetic voice read these be-boppin jazz-style essays was a double plus. No one else, at that terrifying time in America, seemed to be saying the things that needed to be said about the Gulf War, mental illness, the fact that our jobs are killing us, and the need for a spirituality of compassion in the barren American landscape of the post-Reagan years. Ventura's essays on Las Vegas are fun. I re-read them every time I venture off to Sin City. I often have my students read Ventura's essays to see what voice and presence in writing are all about--he's got it. These essays now might seem a little bit dated and heavy-handed; but they can still pack a wallop to the sophomoric mind and those just starting to struggle with life issues--Ventura is perfect for those in their 20s--or their midlife crisis. Put on a Mingus or Parker CD while you read, and it'll be quite an experience. Ventura is a truly American voice on par with Dos Passos or Randolph Bourne (who? )

Letters At 3A.M.: Reports on Endarkenment

I not only have read this book, but I also work for the publisher.To start, I would like to say that this book is not out of print.Personally, at Spring Publications (the publisher) we do some pretty heavy, dry writing. But Michal Ventura lightens things up just a bit with his looks into the American way of life. His essays range in topic from the neo-pagan rituals that he has participated (The Witness Tree) in to his own alcholism (In Defence of Alchol). (in his words, "I don't like to drink alone, I love it.") For anyone looking to find good left in America, Letters at 3 A.M. is just the thing. In my eyes, it is one of the top five books I have ever read.

Ventura's Essays a Lesson in Writing the Truth

I've come across more technically crafty essayists (Saffire and Buckley come to mind) but never one who is better in writing the truth. Not the truth from inside Washington's Beltway, but the truth from inside America's heartland. Ventura conveys this truth in a style that is devoid of intellectual trickery, speaking directly to the reader in a clear, honest way. It's far too long that America has been without a brilliant humanist essayist. No over-wrought intellectual squirming or pop-tart-culture narcissism here - each of the essays is a mature, meaningful discussion with plenty of depth to back it up. Ventura's work is all the more valuable in that he doesn't allow his erudition to stand in the way of the reader's enjoyment. It's there to enjoy if you like, but if you've never heard of Francis Bacon, he's not going to let that stand in the way of your getting the point. Nor is he going to let the point get in the way of the reader having a good time. They may be hard to face, but no matter how much the issues and observations he drags kicking and screaming from under the rock of our culture's subconscious may make you squirm, it's always difficult not to jump straight-away into the next essay - they're that fun to read. None of this comes at the expense of providing the reader with clear, mature, thoughtful comments on our society - the society of the common man in the United States. Ventura is without doubt among the top five living American essayists. It's a shame that this book is currently out of print - If you can find this book anywhere, get it.
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