Vegas Valley Book Festival

It seems like not too long ago that I sat in an audience of more than 1,000 people at the Green Valley Ranch Station and listened to author Tom Robbins, looking cool and mysterious in his Wayfarer shades, as he valiantly tried to explain how he catches lightning in a bottle. He couldn’t do it, of course. None of us can. I could tell that the woman who asked the question left feeling vaguely disappointed. The rest of us left energized and grateful for the opportunity to rub elbows with a true literary legend.

That was the first Vegas Valley Book Festival, an annual celebration of the written, spoken and illustrated word, that single-handedly demolishes the myth that Las Vegas lacks culture. In the ensuing years, the Festival has brought in such noted authors as John Irving, Walter Mosley, Chuck Palahniuk, Neil Gaiman and Michael Chabon. Now, eight years later, we’re gearing up for the next one, which takes place this week from November 4 through November 8, and features Poet Laureate of the United States Kay Ryan, as well as

E.L. Doctorow, one of America’s most accomplished and acclaimed living writers. Most of the events will take place at downtown’s historic Fifth Street School.

On Saturday at 11:15, I will be moderating a panel of three nationally-known authors who have been chosen as favorites by local Las Vegas book clubs. Then at 4:00, I’ll join my fellow scribes for a discussion of our collaborative serial mystery novel, “Restless City,” the signature project of this year’s Festival. Among the panelists will be H. Lee Barnes, the newest member of the Nevada Writers Hall of Fame, and Vu Tran, a recent winner of the prestigious (and lucrative) Whiting Award for “exceptional talent and promise in early career. ”

Please stop by if you have a chance. I always look forward to getting caught up with old friends and maybe even making a few new ones.