A city unlike any other, Las Vegas has captured the imaginations of writers across the globe. The neon lights of the Strip, the growing suburban neighborhoods, the bustling casinos, the mountains and Lake Mead, and the boxing arenas and entertainment venues have all served as inspiration for writers attempting to capture the spirit of Las Vegas in fiction.
“I love reading books set in Las Vegas! You get unexpected takes on familiar places,” said Priscilla Finley, humanities librarian at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. “I think writers are attracted to using Las Vegas as a setting because it’s an in-between space, with the dazzling machinery of the Strip feeling separate from the ordinary world. It offers many possible directions for a writer to explore with character development and creative storylines.”
Finley has curated a new exhibit, Writers Imagine Las Vegas: Our City in Fiction, featuring a collection of more than 75 fiction books set in the City of Lights. The exhibit is on display at Lied Library on the UNLV campus through June 2017.
“This collection of books includes imaginative takes on Las Vegas from local and campus writers,” said Finley. “We wanted to acknowledge the flourishing contemporary creative writing scene while also drawing from the old pulp novels, genre fiction, and blockbusters that the University Libraries has been preserving in Special Collections.”
Drawn from UNLV University Libraries Special Collections, the novels in the exhibit showcase a variety of themes found in literature documenting Las Vegas. Tourists getting mixed up in nefarious plots off the Strip, boxing legends finding glory in and out of the ring, detectives on the trail of a suspect, and the quest for water in a post-apocalyptic future are just a few of the themes that play out in these works.
“I hope when people visit this exhibit, they will be inspired to communicate what they love about Las Vegas and share their own observations and experiences,” said Finley. “I want people to develop a broader appreciation of our vibrant, diverse, and creative community and overcome some of the stereotypes that people may have when they think of Las Vegas.”
The exhibit is free and open to the public during regular UNLV University Libraries hours. To learn more about UNLV University Libraries Special Collections, visit www.library.unlv.edu/speccol/.