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2015 Fall Culture Guide: Literature & Ideas

Juan Felipe Herrera
Courtesy Nevada State College

Juan Felipe Herrera, America's first Hispanic poet laureate

Visual arts | Music | Theater & Dance | Literature & Ideas | Family, Festivals & Food

A big-deal poet comes to town. Offbeat musicians unite for an evening. Artists show their work, actors emote onstage: fall will be chockablock — that’s right, chockablock! — with culture. Our smartly curated guide will help you make the most of this autumn bounty.


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Vu Tran’s Las Vegas You’ve read the excerpt of the novel Dragonfish in Desert Companion (July). You’ve seen the early raves in the book press. Now you can watch author Vu Tran — a 2006 Ph.D graduate of UNLV — discuss his novel of Vegas’ Vietnamese underworld. Part of the Black Mountain Institute’s Alumni Reading Series. (SD) 7p, Rogers Literature & Law building, room 101, free,



Keep Austen weird!Jane Austen’s been on a roll lately, particularly on film, where adaptations of her novels have appeared steadily in recent years. UNLV English prof Tim Erwin explores Austen’s cinematic triumph. Co-sponsored by The Jane Austen Society of North America, and now you know there is one. (SD) 7:30p, Barrick Museum auditorium, free,

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Keeping the BeatsYou don’t have to be starving hysterical naked, looking for an angry fix to enjoy the work of the Beat poets. You know, your Allen Ginsbergs, Diane DiPrimas and Gregory Corsos. In his Beat Poetics Workshop, Clark County Poet Laureate Bruce Isaacson introduces you to the movement’s luminaries and their work. (Open poetry reading to follow.) (SD) Noon, Winchester Cultural Center, free, 702-455-8340



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Writer reads acclaimed storiesAn evening with writer Kirstin Valdez Quade, author of the new short story collection Night at the Fiestas. Lotsa resumé talking points here: publication in The New Yorker, one of the National Book Foundation’s “5 under 35.” A talent to watch. Part of Black Mountain Institute’s Emerging Writers Series. (SD) 7p, Rogers Literature & Law building, room 101, free,



Page-turner and hoochWords and booze — they go together like F. Scott Fitzgerald and a hangover. In this installment of The Writer’s Block’s Bourbon Book Club, participants will discuss James Salter’s classic novel A Sport and a Pastime while tippling Bastille 1789, a blended French whiskey selected by The Whisky Attic. Registration required. (SD) 6p, 1020 Fremont, free,



Military bearingWith the role of the military in American society a continually charged issue, it’s probably a good time to hear out R.M. Ryan — a Vietnam-era Army vet — as he reads from his memoir-novel about the military and culture, There’s a Man With a Gun Over There. (SD) 7:30p, Barrick Museum auditorium, free,



Contested land, spreading out so far and wideThe question of who owns the land of the West, and under what conditions — who gets to use and profit from it — has been one of the defining issues of the region at least since it was settled. Developers, environmentalists, extractive industries, indigenous peoples and lately would-be Sagebrush rebellion-types have all clashed over this question. For This Land Is Your Land … Or is It?, Black Mountain Institute convenes an impressive panel to address it: Timothy Egan, New York Times columnist; iconic poet and writer about the land Gary Snyder; economist and writer Terry L. Anderson, advocate of free-market environmentalism; Virginia Scharff, director of the Center for the Southwest at the University of New Mexico. (SD) 7p, UNLV Student Union, free,



Life is learningfulThis year, as before, the Life is Beautiful Festival Learning Series busts out a lineup of speakers. From Bill Nye, best known as a “science guy,” to Vampire Diaries actress Kat Graham; from transgender activist Geena Rocero to Priceline co-founder Jeff Hoffman to many more, the Learning Series will provide a brainy respite from all the devil music outside. (SD) See full schedule at



Juan Felipe HerreraA reading by Juan Felipe Herrera, author of Senegal Taxi and many other collections, and America’s first Hispanic poet laureate. Introduced by Clark County poet laureate Bruce Isaacson. 7p, Nevada State College, free, 455-7340 (SD)



You can confiscate my Huckleberry Finn when you pry it from my cold fingersTo be honest, we think Band Books Week is hardly worth … what? It’s Banned Books Week? Well, okay! The centerpiece of BBW (September 27-October 3) is Uncensored Voices, a celebration of the trouble-making books that, dozens or hundreds of times a year, are targeted for removal from bookstores, libraries and schools. Review-Journal political columnist Steve Sebelius anchors a team of experts and educators who’ll discuss censorship in Nevada. Co-sponsored by the ACLU of Nevada and UNLV’s Curriculum Materials Library. (SD) 7p, Clark County Library, free,


Olivia ClareThis is writer Olivia Clare’s time: Her poetry collection The 26-Hour Day will be out shortly, and it was recently announced that prestigious Grove Atlantic will publish both her short story collection and novel. On this evening, she’ll read from her poetry. 7p, The Writer’s Block, free, (SD)



A poet you should knowBlack Mountain Institute’s Emerging Writers Series brings to Las Vegas the young poet Lucas de Lima, a native of Brazil who lives in Pennsylvania, and whose 2014 poetry collection, Wet Lands, attracted plenty of acclaim. (SD) 7p, Rogers Literature & Law building, room 101, free,



Local man peddles book!Local historian Geoff Schumacher, a frequent Desert Companion contributor, will read from and sign the newly revised, expanded and lemon-freshened edition of Sun, Sin and Suburbia: The History of Modern Las Vegas, a nearly comprehensive volume that still manages to overlook the historical contributions made by the writer of this blurb, also Schumacher’s last remaining clinically sane friend. You should attend his event anyway. (SD) 7p, The Writer’s Block, free,



Beyond the binaryAs an issue, intersex diagnosis — that is, people who seem to exist between genders, or borrow elements from both — sits at an intersection of medicine, social issues, gender identity, activism and more. This is a talk by Georgiann Davis, an assistant sociology professor at UNLV, who literally wrote the book on the subject, Contesting Intersex: The Dubious Diagnosis. (SD) 7:30p, Barrick Museum auditorium, free,



meltzertastic!Imagine the first lady strolling through the aromatic Rose Garden, only to find — a severed arm! Clutching something valuable! “OH, MY GOD,” she screams, “I MUST BE IN THE FIRST SCENE OF A BRAD MELTZER NOVEL!” The President’s Shadow, in fact, Meltzer’s newest. The best-selling author and TV personality (Brad Meltzer’s Lost History) opens the 2015 Vegas Valley Book Festival with this keynote address and book-signing. (SD) 7p, Clark County Library, free,



The Three Wise GuysGeoff Carter, Dayvid Figler and Gregory Crosby will sling some spoken-word and poetry as part of the Downtown Cultural Series, in conjunction with the Vegas Valley Book Festival. Noon, jury assembly room 333 of the Lloyd D. George Federal Courthouse, free, (SD)



Area writers compile bookThe seventh consecutive volume of Las Vegas Writes — an annual anthology showcasing local writers as part of the Vegas Valley Book Festival — launches with a reading and party at The Writer’s Block. Contributors to the book, titled The Anarchy of Memories, include Doug Elfman, Jessie Humphries and Erica Vitale-Lazare. (SD) Time TBA, The Writer’s Block, free,



Joysticks + extra lives = narrative?Because they’re immersive and responsive to players, video games pose fundamental questions about the nature of narrative in the post-book age. That’s what Amy Green, an assistant professor in residence in UNLV’s English department, will address in her talk The Stories People Play. (SD) 7:30p, Barrick Museum
auditorium, free,



All about KirkFew figures hog the foreground of modern Strip history like Kirk Kerkorian, the casino mogul — the MGM empire — movie tycoon and multibillionaire. In The Remarkable Life of Kirk Kerkorian, Father of the Las Vegas Megaresort, David Schwartz, director of UNLV’s Center for Gaming Research, traces Kerkorian’s rise and rise. (SD) 7p, Clark County Library, free,



See you in the funny pagesThe Vegas Valley Comic Book Festival is back with high-caliber guests such as Matt Wagner, Jen Van Meter, Carla Speed McNeil, Shannon Watters and more, more, more. There will be panel talks and workshops, vendors, live music and a movie screening. (SD) 9:30a-4:30p, Clark County Library, free,



Water in the desertWhat’s scarcer than water in Death Valley? Some of the very rare creatures that live in that harsh desert aquasystem. Those endangered species, and the stresses on water in the Southwest, are the subject of Christopher Norment’s book Relicts of a Beautiful Sea: Survival, Extinction, and Conservation in a Desert World, which he’ll talk about at the following time and place: (SD) 7p, The Writer’s Block, free,



The plane truthThought experiment: Imagine the cities of the West without air travel. Instead of the polyglot cosmopolitan places that some of them are, they’d be provincial, culturally isolated. In “Pushing Boundaries,” Daniel Bubb of UNLV’s Honors College talks about the impact, growth and challenges of the airline industry in serving the West. (SD) 7:30p, Barrick Museum auditorium, free,



Welcome to Sleigh Town!Patricia Cafferata, a state treasure, has come out with Christmas in Nevada, a book that gathers Yule stories from the Silver State, going back to 1858 — some stories by the well-known (Mark Twain, Gov. Richard Bryan), others by everyday Nevadans. She’ll read and sign. (SD) 7p, The Writer’s Block, free,


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