Southern Nevada may not have foliage tours and apple-picking excursions, but autumn here brings a full calendar of arts and culture to keep us busy. Find a guide to this year’s season here, along with book reviews, interviews, profiles, and a true-crime tale from the annals of punk rock.View as a flipbook or download the PDF on Issuu>>
Fall Culture Guide 2023: Literature and Ideas
The ability to read whatever we like, while most of us take it for granted, is in no way guaranteed. And with the American Library Association recording more attempts to ban books in 2022 than ever before in its history, performances such as Free to Read: A Banned Books Week Event are timelier than ever. Staged by The Asylum Theatre, the evening is billed as a celebration of First Amendment rights and freedom of artistic expression.
Add equal parts activism, solid storytelling, and emotional exploration, mix thoroughly, and garnish with a dash of journalism — you now have the recipe for Morgan Thomas’ writing. Disarming and raw, their body of work will be the subject of this Black Mountain Institute event celebrating one of its four Shearing Fellows for the 2023-24 academic year. In this book reading, Thomas will reflect on what it means to be radically untraditional in America, and all the beauty and pain that goes along with that.
There’s something appropriate about discussing classic films with a specialty cocktail in hand — mirroring the endless, off-handed pouring of scotch that punctuated scenes throughout midcentury film. Commemorate this bygone era at Noir Bar: Film Classics and Cocktails, featuring movie trivia with Turner Classic Movies host Eddie Muller. The evening promises to fill your brain with stimulating discussion and your belly with fancy drinks for every palate.
Shoutout to the overthinkers! Obsessions, the latest installment in Avantpop Bookstore’s Intimate Evenings of Poetry series, is for you (and me). Hosted by activist and writer Shwa Laytart, this installment promises to satisfy your need for dark satirical poetry. If that’s not your thing, catch other readings on Oct. 22 (themed as Invisible Ghosts), Nov. 12 (Sensuality), and Nov. 19 (Fear and Loathing). Ticket prices include one free drink.
Architecture and landscaping are part of that wonderful class of art that we all benefit from, yet very rarely think about. May it be invisible no more, says Mary G. Padua, visiting lecturer for the AIA + Klai Juba Wald + UNLV School of Architecture fall lecture series. Padua, a researcher as well as an architect, specializes in the meaning of public spaces and post-Mao urban design in China. Her presentation, Speculations on the Landscape, will shed light on the beauty and purpose of the planned world around us.
Where can one witness 14 local powerhouse authors discussing their writing together in one place, other than at the Las Vegas Writes event, sponsored by Nevada Humanities? This year’s installment, published (as usual) to coincide with the Las Vegas Book Festival, is titled Feather Shows: Las Vegas Writers on Movies, TV, and Other Spectacles. The story collection focuses not only on visitors to Sin City, but also the locals who daily find themselves navigating a complicated, oxymoronic, town. And if you recognize some names, that’s because they — namely, Delight Chinenye Ejiaka and Mike Weatherford — have contributed to Desert Companion, too. To get to know one of the Feather Shows writers (and the anthology editor) better, click here for a review of Jarret Keene’s recently published dystopian novel, Hammer of the Dogs.
We Are a Haunting is an apt name for Tyriek White’s most recent novel, published in April. Combining suspense, the supernatural (naturally), inequality, and a commentary on complicated familial dynamics, the book is further proof that White is a supreme example of his generation’s nuanced novelists, particularly when it comes to sharing Black, urban experiences.
One of my bigger mistakes in 2022 was foregoing the Las Vegas Book Festival because of that crazy windstorm — missing Bob Woodward stung. But around here, we learn from our mistakes, so I’m blocking out Oct. 21 for full lit immersion. And what a year it’ll be: authors Terry McMillan, Malcolm Nance, Rebecca Yarros, and Ana Reyes are slated to make appearances, along with the usual book vendors. Pro tip: Bring a friend to geek out with and help you stay true to your book budget.
True Vegas trivia buffs know that the city has a distinguished record of hosting auto racing events, stretching as far back as the 1960s. Unsurprisingly, organized crime had a role in organizing many of them, which is why it makes sense for the Mob Museum to present Racing and Racketeers: Motorsport and Organized Crime in Las Vegas. The lecture, featuring Randy Cannon (a motorsport historian) and Bill Weinberger (a former casino exec), comes to town right before Formula 1. Something to think about the next time you see road closures for repaving — like everything else in Vegas, the Mafia started it!
Through Oct. 29
The old saw about an image and a bunch of words gets the literal treatment in this poetry showcase: Students in UNLV’s Creative Writing program created poems based on the art they saw at the Rita Deanin Abbey Museum. That same poetry is now on display beside the corresponding paintings and sculptures in Vegas & Verse: A Collaborative Exhibition.
Critics have declared Artificial, cartoonist and author Amy Kurzweil’s most recent publication, morally challenging, beautifully illustrated, and witty. And the plot isn’t too shabby, either. The book is a generational epic, which thoughtfully takes shape as Kurzweil explores her family’s very complicated past, virtually resurrecting the dead while trying to reconcile her own uncertain future with her partner. For the AI-obsessed, this reading and book signing offer an ideal opportunity to contemplate the role that tech can play in understanding the past.
Mental health professionals recommend plenty of common methods for reducing climate anxiety: understand what you can and can’t control, reduce climate news consumption, talk it out with a trusted friend or family member. But there are also less well-known avenues. These form the basis for Brian Burkhart’s lecture Climate Hope Through the Land: An Indigenous Framework for Decolonial Hope During Climate Chaos. Burkhart aims to increase climate hope by reviving the idea of “land as kinship.”
Celebrate American Indian Heritage Month by attending curator Jaimie Isaac's lecture, Adorned Since Time Immemorial: First Nations’ Fashion Today. Highlighting the current generation of Indigenous fashion designers, Isaac explores how trend cycles and fast fashion have negatively disrupted traditional clothing practices, and what Indigenous people are doing to resurrect ancestral tailoring skills.
While most atomic-age history can be heavy, this installment of the Atomic Museum’s Atomix lecture series, Atomic Life: Shaken and Stirred, makes connecting with that era a bit more accessible. It features the work of Cecelia Tichi, author of Midcentury Cocktails: History, Lore, and Recipes from America’s Atomic Age — a dash of midcentury kitsch, a solid scoop of Ameri - can history, and a Moscow Mule straight out of Ocean’s Eleven.
Is food a bonding experience, something you have good memories of, eating with family at an idealized dinner table? Or does food bring up thoughts of insecurity, trauma, lack? Perhaps it invokes some other experience altogether. Food writer Kim Foster explores these associations and more, as part of UNLV’s University Forum Lecture series in collaboration with the Black Mountain Institute. In The Meth Lunches, Foster’s discussion of nutrition in a time of income and access inequality, and how that interacts with depictions of gastronomy on social media, offers plenty to digest.
If you’re reading this public radio-published magazine, then chances are pretty good you’re a fan of David Sedaris, famed for his work on “This American Life,” produced by WBEZ Chicago. Since his personal essays were first heard on the radio almost 30 years ago, Sedaris has blazed a trail as star humorist, even making the New York Times bestsellers list. Sedaris will be live in Vegas, for one show only, An Evening with David Sedaris. Tickets are selling fast, so don’t sit on this chance to see the author live.
Heather Lang-Cassera is making Desert Companion proud. Our 2017 Best of the City choice for Local Writer or Poet, Lang-Cassera has since served as the Clark County, Nevada Poet Laureate; a 2022 Nevada Arts Council Literary Fellow; and has published her most recent collection of poetry, Gathering Broken Light. This reading at The Writer’s Block offers a chance to get acquainted with not only the author herself, but also her poetry, which centers the tragedy of American gun violence, inspired by the aftermath of the 1 October shooting.