A ruminative but sometimes-confusing memoir.

The Youngest Son of a Millionaire

A debut chronicle of one man’s outrage about the American justice system.

“Is the difference in this country between ‘moral’ and ‘legal’ something with which you are comfortable?” Ventura asks. In this memoir, he makes it clear that he’s not comfortable with it, and that he seeks to “bring justice to the Ventura family.” His hardworking father, Joseph Ventura, with the aid of his children, crafted his own version of the American Dream, turning his rental properties, construction skills and ability to see a bargain into a thriving business enterprise. “I stood high upon the top step, the ladder my father built, with my family by my side,” the author writes. After Joseph died, however, it all came crashing down. The author asserts that his alcoholic mother began to drink even more, and fell into a series of relationships with men who manipulated her finances. The court system then failed to uphold a trust that the author’s father intended to leave the family. In the end, Ventura says, the only ones who benefited from the resulting family split were lawyers and con men. But the author’s problems with the establishment don’t end there, as he contends that his efforts to do the right thing were misunderstood, and he cites lawyers and federal and state agencies that he believes have denied him justice over the past 30 years. “I have done all I can to show people that what they did and how they responded to my pleas for help was wrong,” he writes. Readers may be disturbed by his accounts of being physically escorted out of offices and courtrooms, and of orders of protection taken out against him during divorce and custody struggles. This memoir has an earnest, conversational prose style. Overall, however, readers may find this rambling account hard to follow. The author discusses his former drug addiction and arrests, but it’s not clear whether they happened when he was working at his towing or construction jobs, pursuing court cases, contacting the FBI, fighting for his marriage or negotiating custody. Although the book occasionally mentions dates, legal cases and letters, the chronological sequence of its events often seems muddled.

A ruminative but sometimes-confusing memoir.

Pub Date: Dec. 15, 2012

ISBN: 978-0615664842

Page Count: 214

Publisher: Paul Ventura

Review Posted Online: March 19, 2014

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...



Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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Possibly inspired by the letters Cleary has received as a children's author, this begins with second-grader Leigh Botts' misspelled fan letter to Mr. Henshaw, whose fictitious book itself derives from the old take-off title Forty Ways W. Amuse a Dog. Soon Leigh is in sixth grade and bombarding his still-favorite author with a list of questions to be answered and returned by "next Friday," the day his author report is due. Leigh is disgruntled when Mr. Henshaw's answer comes late, and accompanied by a set of questions for Leigh to answer. He threatens not to, but as "Mom keeps nagging me about your dumb old questions" he finally gets the job done—and through his answers Mr. Henshaw and readers learn that Leigh considers himself "the mediumest boy in school," that his parents have split up, and that he dreams of his truck-driver dad driving him to school "hauling a forty-foot reefer, which would make his outfit add up to eighteen wheels altogether. . . . I guess I wouldn't seem so medium then." Soon Mr. Henshaw recommends keeping a diary (at least partly to get Leigh off his own back) and so the real letters to Mr. Henshaw taper off, with "pretend," unmailed letters (the diary) taking over. . . until Leigh can write "I don't have to pretend to write to Mr. Henshaw anymore. I have learned to say what I think on a piece of paper." Meanwhile Mr. Henshaw offers writing tips, and Leigh, struggling with a story for a school contest, concludes "I think you're right. Maybe I am not ready to write a story." Instead he writes a "true story" about a truck haul with his father in Leigh's real past, and this wins praise from "a real live author" Leigh meets through the school program. Mr. Henshaw has also advised that "a character in a story should solve a problem or change in some way," a standard juvenile-fiction dictum which Cleary herself applies modestly by having Leigh solve his disappearing lunch problem with a burglar-alarmed lunch box—and, more seriously, come to recognize and accept that his father can't be counted on. All of this, in Leigh's simple words, is capably and unobtrusively structured as well as valid and realistic. From the writing tips to the divorced-kid blues, however, it tends to substitute prevailing wisdom for the little jolts of recognition that made the Ramona books so rewarding.

Pub Date: Aug. 22, 1983

ISBN: 143511096X

Page Count: 133

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 16, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1983

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