Literary Las Vegas: Las Vegas Writes

Each year, a new group of local writers is selected to participate in the Las Vegas Writes project, a compilation of short fiction on a common theme to be featured as part of the Vegas Valley Book Festival. This year’s book, the project’s seventh, “The Anarchy of Memories: Short Fiction Featuring Las Vegas Icons,” features writers Drew Cohen, Scott Dickensheets, Doug Elfman, Jessie Humphries, C.J. Mosher, Helen H. Moore, Sonya Padgett and Erica Vital-Lazare and is edited by Geoff Schumacher. A presentation on the book is scheduled at 6 p.m. Oct. 16 at The Writer’s Block, 1020 Fremont St. Visit vegasvalleybookfestival.org/las-vegas-writes.

Excerpt from “Memoir of a Modern Woman in the Modern World,” a short story by C.J. Mosher

Across from me on the train out of Salt Lake City was a dapper gentleman in a gray three-piece suit, Mr. Charles Squires. With an elfish glint to his eyes and an inquisitive beak-like nose, he mentioned he was editor of the newspaper in a small town between Utah and California where the train would be stopping for refreshment — Las Vegas, Nevada. He seemed proper and sincere enough. In the Wild West, however, those were telltale traits of your average con man. Nonetheless, he visibly perked up when I told him I had been seeking employment as a teacher.

“A terrific coincidence!” he crowed. “We have an immediate opening in our school!”

The man’s middle name should have been Booster. In an effort to recruit me for the position, he spent the next hours enlightening me on the brief history of Las Vegas. The town had been erected only three years earlier, in 1905, when mining magnate William Andrews Clark had decided to plunk down a little whistlestop for his new railroad line between Salt Lake City and Los Angeles. Just a small company town, it boasted ten miles of graded streets and redwood pipes delivering water to residents from a gushing spring the railroad owned. With a schoolhouse and several churches, electricity and phone service soon would be coming to its 1,000 citizens. Also, according to Mr. Squires, it had the most advanced ice plant in the world, churning out 100 tons a day amid the desert. Most of it went to refrigerate fruits and vegetables moving east from California and meat from the Midwest to California.

“It’s a city of destiny!” he proclaimed.

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