Dallas : Spring Publications : Distributed in the U.S. by Continuum Pub. Co., c1993.
vii, 247 p.; 23 cm
In an antidogmatic, mordant but ultimately humanistic voice, the versatile Ventura ( Shadow-Dancing in the USA ) grapples with American culture in these essays, most of which were first published in the L.A. Weekly . A series of essays on religion and ritual leads Ventura to reflect on the universal, urgent traumas of adolescence; much of popular culture, he suggests, engages this darkness, and he posits "an irresistible collective need for endarkenment." A New York-born Los Angeleno with an eye for dislocation, Ventura surveys Las Vegas--a place where you can do anything but which also has the highest teen suicide rate in the country--and concludes that the weirdest thing is how we take that city's weirdness for granted. His anti-Gulf War columns capture the cultural longing behind the jingoism that was rampant then, suggesting that the left fails to grasp the collective American psyche and its sense of shame over failure. A more-or-less reformed alcoholic, Ventura resists therapeutic cant; rather than renounce drinking, he has decided to be more careful, but also to learn "when to risk the immoderate." He is a worthy, if quirky, companion.