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A Nevada Day Literary Guide

If we were on Mt. Athos, today's date is October 18, 2013.  That is because the monks on that peninsula in the Aegean Sea still adhere to the Julian calendar.  While I hew to the old calendar, I do remain a traditionalist when it comes to Nevada Day.  October 31 is the original date on which Nevada Day was celebrated.  In 1999, however, the Nevada legislature made the unfortunate and ahistoric decision to move the celebration to the last Friday of October.  NRS 236.015(1).

In honor of Nevada Day, today's blog will celebrate Nevada literary works.  The first book on my list is Mark Twain's semi-autobiographical, Roughing It.  According to the author,

"This book is merely a personal narrative, and not a pretentious history or a philosophical dissertation. It is a record of several years of variegated vagabondizing, and its object is rather to help the resting reader while away an idle hour than afflict him with metaphysics, or goad him with science. Still, there is information in the volume; information concerning an interesting episode in the history of the Far West, about which no books have been written by persons who were on the ground in person, and saw the happenings of the time with their own eyes. I allude to the rise, growth and culmination of the silver-mining fever in Nevada—a curious episode, in some respects; the only one, of its peculiar kind, that has occurred in the land; and the only one, indeed, that is likely to occur in it."

The second is Walter Van Tilburg Clark's City of Trembling Leaves.  This is a massive reverie on growing up in Northern Nevada in the early 20th Century.  The author is best known for the Ox-Bow Incident which was later made into a movie starring Henry Fonda.  My favorite line from City of Trembling Leaves is: "Every person is also a jungle himself, a forest primeval, a prehistoric swamp in which life is rich, various and reproductive, in which it is very easy to get lost, but absolutely impossible to see everything."

The last book on my list is more lighthearted - Oscar Lewis' The Town that Died Laughing which tells the story of the remote and not yet dead mining town of Austin, Nevada and its paper.

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