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MICHAEL VENTURA
Michael Ventura was born in the Bronx, New York, in 1945. He disciplined himself to a daily regimen of writing at the age of 19, while working in Manhattan first as a transcriber, then as a typesetter. Ten years later, in 1974, Ventura’s first published article appeared in The Austin Sun. He has been what he calls “a working writer” ever since. In 1978, Ventura co-founded the LA Weekly, serving as a film critic and feature writer until 1983, when (while continuing to write features) he began his bi-weekly column, “Letters at 3 AM.” The column appeared in that publication until 1993; and from 1994 to 2014 it was been published by the Austin Chronicle. Ventura has written three novels and several books of nonfiction, including We've Had a Hundred Years of Psychotherapy and the World's Getting Worse (based on a series of conversations with James Hillman). He’s written two feature films and directed a documentary, I’m Almost Not Crazy: John Cassavetes—The Man and His Work. His most recent book of essays, If I Was a Highway, was published by Texas Tech University Press in 2011, with photography by Butch Hancock.
LETTERS AT 3 AM
Reports on Endarkenment
Second, revised edition 2024
with a New Introduction by the author
Paperback original, 270 pages, $25
ISBN: 978-0-88214-163-3
Kindle/Apple Books edition, $9.99
ISBN: 978-0-88214-164-0

These hard-hitting, heart-rendering pieces, collected from the L.A. Weekly, cover the continent’s shadow from Brooklyn to Texas and Hollywood—and across to the shores of the Gulf War. More than comments on the 1990s scene, they chronicle a civilization in agony. As media conglomerates and “correct” academic experts dominate American discourse, Ventura’s clear, no b. s. language, his ancient Sicilian passion, and his courage to speak out have become crucial to the health of the body politic.
    As Ventura writes in his New Introduction: “It’s a good time to remember that, as the essays here attest, this USA is a lively place—a place where, no kidding, the wildest dreams come true. I said ‘wild’ I didn’t say “good.” Walt Whitman, Aretha Franklin, atomic bombs, airplanes, smart phones, Buster Keaton, Barbie, Charles Manson, Dolly Parton, MLK, RBG, all kinds of wild … what threatens USA’s Constitution is wild, too, and that Constitution, which never stands still, is innately wild (have you read the Bill of Rights lately?). It is a document oppressors fear. I write these words in the year we’re to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, whether or not we deserve this USA’s Constitution—or do we have to lose it to realize, deep down, its greatness?”
 
In “The Age of Endarkenment,” [Ventura] has written the greatest essay yet by a member of his generation.
    — Robert Bly
Michael Ventura writes with the body and brilliance of someone who lives solidly in this world and yet sees the theater that is invisible to most of us.
    — Thomas Moore