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Ventura, Ace

By Kelly Luker

Michael Ventura is proof that there's life, however tenuous, after alternative journalism. You may remember the prolific author's name from We've Had a Hundred Years of Psychotherapy and the World's Getting Worse (1992, HarperCollins), an extended dialogue between Ventura and his co-author, well-known therapist James Hillman.

For those who have done time in Southern California, however, Ventura is better known as the writer of the LA Weekly and LA View's former "Letters at 3am" column, a weekly, award-winning meditation on odd angles of Angeleno life. Often, though, he would stray from the City of Angels and his allotted column space. One article, a musing on the vast desert that stretches northeast of Los Angeles to Las Vegas, still sticks in my mind, its haunted imagery popping up now and then when I motor through that wasteland (the desert, that is, not Los Angeles).

It is therefore not surprising that the desert, specifically Las Vegas, became the setting for Ventura's next literary gambit--a detective novel.

What Ventura says is the first of four planned novels featuring Las Vegas detective Mike Rose, The Death of Frank Sinatra weaves a conspiracy-laden plot--think JFK and the Mafia, but with a little more torture, mayhem and one-breasted aging strippers-turned ministers--than the average reader may be able to appreciate.

Michael Ventura reads from The Death of Frank Sinatra on Wednesday (7:30pm) at Capitola Book Cafe. For more info, call 462-4415.

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From the October 10-16, 1996 issue of Metro Santa Cruz

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