'American Dreams' In Las Vegas Will Answer One Big Question

Two days later this month might just answer this question: Is Las Vegas ready?

Not for professional football. Or the NHL.

Is Las Vegas ready for what the Beverly Rogers, Carol C. Harter Black Mountain Institute believes it is ready to be: Not just a stopover, but a home for some of this country’s finest writers?

The two-day festival is called American Dreams; part of it will take place at Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area; part of it will be downtown. And Josh Shenk, BMI’s executive director, told KNPR's State of Nevada that he believes the city is ready to be home to great writers.

“There are a couple of institutions the Smith Center, and Writers Block and Black Mountain Institute that are really working hard to cultivate this community and get people feeling that there’s a home for them, giving them a place to gather and giving them events like this to gather around,” he said. 

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Almost two dozen authors from around the country will converge on Las Vegas to talk about, or be put on the hook to defend, that most hallowed of beliefs, "The American Dream."

Some of the topics to be covered at the event include "Sex, Rock 'n' Roll and the American Dream," which will be discussed by Carrie Brownstein from the indie-punk band Sleater-Kinney and the show "Portlandia."

Another workshop will be held at the Mob Museum with the topic "The American Dream on Trial."

“We’re going to be at the historic courthouse at the Mob Museum and we’re asking a variety of writers… to present an amicus brief to the court of literary opinion on where is the American Dream most vital, most alive,” Shenk said. 

BMI partnered with The Believer, a literary magazine based in San Francisco, to put together the event. Most of the invited writers are friends of The Believer editors or BMI. 

Shenk said that is one of the things that will set this festival apart from other literary festivals. 

“It is going to be much more of the gathering of the tribe,” he said.

He said having writers who agreed to come because they love the institution or people who asked them will make for a more interesting event.

After working on this event together, BMI decided to purchase The Believer, which Shenk said has a group of very passionate followers. 

“Many feel like The Believer is one of the most culturally important institutions in their life,” he said. 

The Beverly Rogers and Carol C. Harter Black Mountain Institute is based on the campus of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.


Josh Shenk, executive director, The Beverly Rogers, Carol C. Harter Black Mountain Institute

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KNPR's State of Nevada