Letters at 3AM

COCKROACHES SCURRY. A tiger lies still in tall grass for hours awaiting prey. I write. The cockroach, the tiger, and me – we do how we are made.

Michael Ventura

Michael Ventura wrote the “Letters at 3AM” column from 1993 to 2014 for the Austin Chronicle (the Austin, TX alternative weekly). For me, it was a must read. Several years ago he realized time was getting short to write the novels he wanted to finish and he quit writing the column. Not long after that, I quit picking up the newspaper. Last fall he appeared again, writing “Until the End of the World”. The subtitle is “Writing is not what I live for, it’s how I live.” This speaks to me. The money I make writing isn’t enough to take us out for dinner.

If, on my deathbed, I can speak, I shall ask that a notebook and pen be placed within my reach – even if I can never again reach. It’s how I’m made.

Michael Ventura

The essay was his contribution to What Falls Away is Always: Writers Over Sixty on Writing & Death. The Letters at 3AM archive is available on-line here. Peruse and enjoy.

I’ve felt the trees grieve.

Michael Ventura

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7 Responses to Letters at 3AM

  1. Khasha Ostovany says:

    Do you happen to know of Michael Ventura’s well-being? The last time I heard about him -several years ago- he had a stroke.
    He has a big place in my heart.
    I have the recordings of several of his “Letters at 3 AM” in his own voice, if you are interested.
    Thank you.
    Khasha Ostovany

  2. Jeffrey Taylor says:

    If I Remember Correctly (IIRC), he is still writing but only for a few hours a day. I would be interested in the recordings and willing to put them up on this site or link to them.


  3. Khasha Ostovany says:

    Hi Jeffrey,

    Sorry for the loooooong delay in response. I was on a different planet -or it certainly felt that way!
    I’ll send you a link to all the Ventura talks that I managed to record off KPFK here in southern California when Michael was living here and writing for the LA Weekly.
    I don’t believe he is writing any longer. It will certainly be a great thing if he is. I have not been able to find any of it online, though. His incisive writing were always exceptionally witty and sharp. The last I heard from him, he was working of a book of his poetry which he was going to use a photo I had shared with him on the cover of it. I miss his writing and his voice. I hope he is around and well.


  4. Khasha Ostovany says:


    Please let me know when you get this so I could send you the links to the Ventura tapes. Since the link will be temporary, you’d only have a week to download them.

    Thank you.

  5. Jeff says:

    I’m ready.

  6. Khashayar Ostovany says:


    I’m so sorry. I completely lost count of time and didn’t check back. I was reading an article by John Berger and in it he mentioned something that reminded me of Ventura -and you. My apologies.
    I think you are able to see my email address. Please send me a direct message and I will reply with the link. It will be a WeTransfer link which expires after a week.


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