Former resident writes cultural history of Pyramid Lake

From a Sundance Books and Music news release

MergenCompF.inddHistorian Bernard Mergan will sign and discuss At Pyramid Lake (University of Nevada Press, 2014) at Sundance Books and Music, 121 California Ave., Reno, at 6:30 p.m. Friday, April 25.

Pyramid Lake, one of the largest lakes in the Great Basin, is a desert oasis that was home to the Paiute for thousands of years before the arrival of explorer John C. Frémont in 1844. For them it was a spiritual center that provided life-sustaining resources, such as the cui-ui, a fish unique to the lake and now endangered. At Pyramid Lake is a cultural history of all who have been drawn to this unique natural wonder: ranchers and farmers, sport fishers and scientists, divorcees and movie stars, artists and poets, hucksters and mystics.

Mergen, who grew up near the lake’s shores in the 1940s and returned frequently through the years, is professor emeritus of American studies at George Washington University. His publications include Weather Matters: An American Cultural History Since 1900 and Snow in America. He lives in Franklin, W.V.

This event is made possible through a partnership with Nevada Humanities and with support from the Nightingale Family Foundation.

The author also will appear at an event at the Nevada Museum Thursday, April 24, and at 1 p.m. at the Pyramid Lake Visitors Center in Nixon Saturday, April 26. Check the museums for possible admission charges.

‘Sagebrushed’: Growing up in Nevada

From a Sundance Books and Music news release

sagebrushed coverSundance Books and Music will hold a reading and reception to celebrate the publication of Sagebrushed: Coming of Age and Working in Nevada (Baobab Press, 2014) at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 22. The collection of essays by Nevada journalism students is edited by Alan Deutschman, Reynolds Chair of Business Journalism at the University of Nevada-Reno.

Everyone has to grow up somewhere, and for some of us that place is Nevada. The personal stories in Sagebrushed speak to the economic forces that sustain the state and convey a vivid sense of the places that help make Nevada so distinctive. From sturdy cowboys and rural small towns to a visually impaired casino mogul and legalized sex workers, the people in the book pull back the state’s tumbleweed and neon façade and witness some of the unique qualities that make up Nevada.

As Withanee Andersen writes, “Living in such a strange place is bound to have equally strange effects on people.”

This event is made possible through a partnership with Nevada Humanities and with support from the Nightingale Family Foundation.

New book gives ‘blow-by-blow’ account of Nevada boxing history

From a UNR news release

Davies-Boxing-Book-199x300Richard O. “Dick” Davies offers a blow-by-blow account of boxing in the Silver State in his new book, The Main Event: Boxing in Nevada from the Mining Camps to the Las Vegas Strip.

Davies was inspired to write his book after speaking with Matt Becker, senior acquisitions editor for the University of Nevada Press, and spent a few years researching Nevada’s history and culture of boxing.

The Main Event is his newest chronicle of sports history. Thus far, Davies has contributed to 15 books, nine of which he has written and many of which are related to sports, including Rivals! The Ten Greatest American Sports Rivalries of the 20th Century, Betting the Line: Sports Wagering in American Life and America’s Obsession: Sports and Society Since 1945.

Davies_470-200x300A longtime history professor, Davies was first hired at the University of Nevada, Reno in 1980 as the vice president for academic affairs. Throughout his tenure, he was named a University Foundation Professor in 1999, a Distinguished Professor in 2009 and a Distinguished Service Professor at the time of his retirement in 2011. Today, he is an appointed distinguished professor of history, emeritus and a 2013 inductee into the Nevada Writers Hall of Fame. His historical accounts of sports have been acclaimed by peers, Sports Illustrated and the Journal of Sports History.

In keeping with the boxing theme, Davies titled the book’s chapters “rounds.” The opening rounds discuss boxing’s origins in Nevada mining camps such as Goldfield and Tonopah followed by the first legalized boxing fight between Bob Fitzsimmons and Jim Corbett in Nevada in 1897. Several other matches are discussed, including the “Fight of the Century” between Jack Johnson and James Jeffries in 1910 and the big-name fights in Las Vegas after the 1960s.

“Boxing encompasses Nevada’s maverick spirit,” Davies said. “Many people may not realize it but boxing was engrained in our state’s culture and the University, and the boxing team even had an impact on the sport.”

The book will be available for purchase Monday, April 21. Davies is planning an author’s talk and book signing at 6:30 p.m., Thursday, May 1, at Sundance Books and Music on 121 California Ave. in Reno.

Mark Twain historian at Sundance Books April 24

BohemiansCoverFrom a Sundance Books and Music news release

Historian Ben Tarnoff will read from his new book, The Bohemians: Mark Twain and the San Francisco Writers Who Changed American Literature (Penguin Press, March 2014).

Thursday, April 24, 6:30 p.m.

Sundance Books and Music, 121 California Ave., Reno

About the Book:

The Bohemians begins in 1860s San Francisco. The Gold Rush has ended; the Civil War threatens to tear apart the country. Far from the frontlines, the city at the Western edge roars. A global seaport, home to immigrants from five continents, San Francisco had become a complex urban society virtually overnight. The bards of the moment are the Bohemians: A young Mark Twain, escaping conscription and seeking adventure; literary golden boy Bret Harte; struggling gay poet Charles Warren Stoddard; and beautiful, haunted Ina Coolbirth, poet and protectorate of this band of lost boys. Historian Ben Tarnoff’s elegant, atmospheric story tells how together these four pioneering Western writers would create a new American literature, unfettered by the heavy European influence that dominated the East.

Early Praise:

“Stylish and fast-paced literary history…. Tarnoff breathes fresh life into his narrative… giving us a rich portrait of a lost world overflowing with new wealth and new talent.” – San Francisco Chronicle

“Tarnoff’s glimmering prose lends grandeur to this account of four writers (Mark Twain, Bret Harte, Charles Warren Stoddard and Ina Coolbrith) who built “an extraordinary literary scene” in the frontier boom town of 1860s San Francisco.” –Publishers Weekly

About the Author:

Ben Tarnoff has written for The New York Times, the San Francisco Chronicle and Lapham’s Quarterly and is the author of A Counterfeiter’s Paradise: The Wicked Lives and Surprising Adventures of Three Early American Moneymakers. He was born in San Francisco.

More Details: Learn at

This event is made possible through a partnership with Nevada Humanities and with support from the Nightingale Family Foundation.