Best-selling author David Guterson rarely sets a story in a locale outside of the Pacific Northwest, where he was born and raised and still lives.
But he once wrote a short story that took place in Las Vegas, “Angels in the Snow.” He based it on his impressions of the city after visiting with his family when he was a kid. At that age, he says, everyone he encountered here seemed like a hooker, a mobster, a card cheat or some other ancient stereotype, even if they weren’t.
It’s hard for a teenager not to be influenced by the impressions that others have, and give, of Las Vegas, he explains.
He last visited in 1992, when he was researching a story about master-planned communities for Harper’s magazine. Guterson will get to update his impressions of Las Vegas Sunday when he is scheduled to appear at 2 p.m. at the Clark County Library, 1401 E. Flamingo Road.
He may not discuss “Angels in the Snow,” but he’s sure to mention another work of his featuring “snow” in the title, “Snow Falling on Cedars,” his debut novel for which he won the PEN/Faulkner Award in 1995.
Guterson, who usually gives a reading or does a monthly appearance to promote a new release, is visiting Las Vegas between novels. “The Other” was released in 2008 and he has completed about 75 percent of his next novel. He doesn’t like to talk about what he’s working on for fear of jinxing it, he says.
“It’s unusual in that I’m in between books, but it was such a great opportunity to be involved,” Guterson says of his scheduled appearance.
He hasn’t decided what he will discuss — the theme of his visit is going green — but people tend to ask him about “Snow Falling on Cedars,” even though he has written four novels since its release.
Writing such a popular and critically acclaimed novel so early in his career hasn’t hampered him, Guterson says. Rather, it has freed him to write what he feels like writing.
“I realized early on that a book that has that type of response is never going to happen again,” he says, laughing. “I feel it has liberated me to do the kind of writing I want to do. There isn’t the sense that there is something I must be doing.”
Contact reporter Sonya Padgett at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-380-4564.