Las Vegas writers produced their fair share of books this year. Here are some Las Vegas titles of note (in no particular order):
– Dead Neon: Tales of a Near-Future Las Vegas. University of Nevada Press. Edited by Todd James Pierce and Jarret Keene. This is a collection of 14 short stories pondering futuristic and apocalyptic visions of Las Vegas. Participating writers: Chris Niles, Vu Tran, Lori Kozlowski, Gail Travis Regier, Kim Idol, Andrew Kiraly, Bliss Esposito, Felicia Campbell, Jaq Greenspon, Bryan D. Dietrich, Peter Magliocco, C.J. Mosher, P Moss and K.W. Jeter. The Jeter story, “Bones,” is a 40-pager that reportedly is the class of a good field.
– My Week at the Blue Angel: And Other Stories from the Storm Drains, Strip Clubs, and Trailer Parks of Las Vegas. Huntington Press. By Matthew O’Brien. This is a collection of journalism focused on the parts of Las Vegas that don’t make it into the promotional brochures. Several of the pieces were originally published in the alternative newsweekly CityLife, while the centerpiece, about the Blue Angel Motel, is an original piece for the book. “Hunting Hunter” chronicles O’Brien’s encounters with gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson.
– The Perpetual Engine of Hope: Short Stories Inspired by Iconic Las Vegas Photographs. CityLife Books. Edited by Geoff Schumacher. This is a collection of seven short stories, each one inspired by a photo from Las Vegas history from the 1940s to 1960s. Participating authors: Juan Martinez, Dayvid Figler, Oksana Marafioti, Alissa Nutting, Megan Edwards, P Moss and K.W. Jeter. The stories run the gamut, from horror and urban fantasy to crime noir and contemporary drama. The book is the product of Las Vegas Writes, an annual project sponsored by the Vegas Valley Book Festival.
– Tales from the Boneyard. Pop! Goes the Icon. This is a comic book featuring six sequential stories set in Las Vegas and created by local writer/artists. Participating artists: Barrett Thomson, PJ Perez, Deryl Skelton, Warren Wucinich, F. Andrew Taylor, and Jarret Keene & Victor Moya. Cover by Danny Roberts. This story has it all: robots, baby gorillas, aliens, zombies and post-apocalyptic Asian mercenaries. This project was sponsored by the Vegas Valley Comic Book Festival.
– Blue Vegas. CityLife Books. By P Moss. This collection of 17 short stories explores the dark side of Las Vegas. Moss, owner of the Double Down Saloon, isn’t interested in the glamour of the Strip, but rather the human wreckage coping with grim realities beyond the neon lights.
– Unclean Jobs for Women and Girls. Starcherone Books. By Alissa Nutting. This is a debut story collection by Nutting, a Ph.D. English student at UNLV. Nutting is a highly touted young fiction writer, but don’t be deceived by her nice, friendly demeanor. Inside her lurks a demented soul — in a good way. Her fiction is almost unusual, never predictable and often hilarious.
– Forgotten Man: How Circus Circus’ Bill Bennett Brought Middle America to Las Vegas. Stephens Press. By Jack Sheehan. This is an oral interview-style biography of one of Las Vegas’ most important casino men. The story of Bennett’s rise and fall makes for good reading and a nice addition to the growing Las Vegas history archive.
– Lies Within Lies: The Betrayal of Nevada Judge Harry Claiborne. Stephens Press. By Michael Vernetti. This is a deeply researched history of Claiborne’s high-profile legal battles in the 1980s, with new insights into how federal prosecutors targeted Claiborne despite scant evidence that he did anything wrong.
– Wanna Get Lucky? Forge. By Deborah Coonts. This is a fun and action-packed murder mystery set in Las Vegas. Coonts has a second tale featuring the Babylon casino’s “chief problem solver” Lucky O’Toole coming out soon.
– Vanishing Village: The Struggle for Community in the New West. CityLife Books. By Evan Blythin. This is a work of memoir and sociology that tells the unique story of Blue Diamond, a small rural enclave just outside Las Vegas. Blythin, a retired UNLV communications professor, makes the case that rural living and decision-making practices are superior to the urban experience.
– Going Through Ghosts. University of Nevada Press. By Mary Sojourner. This is a novel about an aging Las Vegas cocktail waitress whose Native American friend is murdered, leading to a quest for wisdom and healing. Sojourner now lives in Bend, Oregon, but she has written a great deal of fiction and nonfiction about the Southwest.
If we’ve omitted a relevant book from this list, please let us know and we’ll add it.
Disclosure: This post was written by Geoff Schumacher, who is the editor of CityLife Books and who also edited a couple of Stephens Press books on this list.