The 50th annual conference of the Western Literature Association will take place October 14-17 at Harrah’s Reno. We will be meeting 35 miles from beautiful North Lake Tahoe, 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.
Harrah’s has contracted with us for the lowest room rates in recent WAL history ($99 Fri-Sat; $59 Sun-Thurs) and is located dead center (literally, on Center Street) in Old Reno, walking distance from the Truckee River and many cultural and recreational attractions.
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 have agreements from Willy Vlautin (UNR alumnus and author of the novels Motel Life, Northline, and most recently Lean on Pete) for a reading and perhaps a performance with his Portland-based band Richmond Fontaine. Rebecca Solnit (Savage Dreams) has promised to join us, and so have William Fox (The Void, The Grid, The Sign; In the Desert of Desire; Playa Works), and photographer Peter Goin (Field Guide to California Agriculture; Nevada Rock Art; Nuclear Landscapes). We are discussing a retrospective on the late Basque-American writer Robert Laxalt (Sweet Promised Land, The Basque Hotel). Negotiations continue with these and other exciting and provocative scholars and artists.
Some plenaries and other sessions will take place in partnership with, and/or on the premises of, the University of Nevada, Reno; Nevada Humanities, the Squaw Valley Community of Writers, 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 details as they trickle forth,
David and Susan
For more information, check back periodically.