” … the fairest picture the whole earth affords” — Mark Twain, from Roughing It (1872).
The 50th annual conference of the Western Literature Association will take place in October at a yet-to-be-determined location in the lovely Reno-Lake Tahoe vicinity, on the west-northwestern edge of the Great Basin, at the intersection of Washoe and Paiute homelands, where the transcontinental emigrant trail and railroad line meet the mighty Sierra Nevada.
October is off-season in these parts and promises discounted transport & lodging rates as well as uncrowded roads, trails, and waterways. Yet we are almost guaranteed sunny warm days and cool, clear, probably frosty nights in which to contemplate and interact with the region’s incredible natural beauty, thriving tribal cultures, preserved traces of historic settlements and extractive industries, and all-year outdoor recreation. All this is conveniently juxtaposed, for our purposes, with casino-hotels, golf courses, ski resorts, trophy homes, gated communities, workforce housing, T-shirt shops, and sprawling WUI (wildland-urban interface) development. The bears at this time will be preparing for their long winter’s naps and are a common autumn sight in my neighborhood.
Preliminary discussions among members of our steering committee anticipate, among other possibilities, panels and plenary events focusing on tourism, mountaineering and river-running literature, the New Western suburbs, mining and emigration narratives, visual culture, and environmental politics, art & photography.
We would love to book Willy Vlautin (UNR alumnus and author of the novels Motel Life, Northline, and most recently Lean on Pete) for a reading as well as banquet entertainment with his Portland-based band Richmond Fontaine. Negotiations are forthcoming.
Some events may well take place in partnership with, and/or on the premises of, the University of Nevada, Reno; Truckee Meadows Community College; Lake Tahoe Community College; the Nevada Historical Society; the Desert Research Institute; and the Nevada Museum of Art.
In addition, we anticipate with mingled trepidation and delight the prospect of our 2015 Readers Theater production: Judy Temple’s all-you-can-eat Donner Party dinner theater, a tongue-in-cheek show you can really sink your teeth into.
More in the fullness of time,