Night Time Losing: Going to the Mat Against Political Pawns and Media Jackals

Michael Ventura, Author Simon & Schuster $19.95 (432p) ISBN 978-0-671-62373-9
Checking into honky-tonks from Louisiana to Texas to Mexico, this raunchy, overwritten first novel captures the pulse of the musician's rootless life, an amorphous series of gigs, motels, cheap highs and cosmic sex on the run. Pianist Jesse Wales, rhythm-and-blues wild-man from New Orleans, is emotionally torn between his ex-wife, embittered Jesus freak Nadine, and his married girlfriend Elaine, a rock 'n' roll critic with whom he shares mescal and oral sex. Nearly everyone in this repetitious road saga seeks salvation: Danny, Jesse's rockabilly buddy, discovers ``Jesus doesn't work any more,'' and flips out; mobile home salesman Henry Reed is a guru who helps others perform ``the Work''; Jesse and sundry lovers seem to think their orifices are windows to heaven. Ventura ( Shadow Dancing in the U.S.A. ) propels his scruffy hero through a near-death experience, lyrically and powerfully evoked, after which this part-time father draws closer to his son, Little Jesse, who was molded by his religious mom. Some of this novel's punchiest effects come from song lyrics interwoven with the story to amplify scenes and moments. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 02/27/1989
Release date: 03/01/1989
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