English professor Cheryll Glotfelty recently published “Literary Nevada: Writings from the Silver State,” the first comprehensive literary anthology about Nevada. It is a collection of essays, memoirs, short stories and poetry as vast as the sagebrush-dotted mountain horizons of the state.
The publication of the anthology will be celebrated in a reception on Thursday, September 18 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. in the Whittemore Tower Entrance and Reception Gallery of the Matthewson-IGT Knowledge Center. About 20 to 30 authors included in the anthology will be available for autographs. Refreshments will be served and Glotfelty will be present to offer a few words about the publication.
“I think anyone who lives in this state will be interested and fascinated by the rich literary tradition that Nevada has,” said Victoria Davies of the University of Nevada Press. “And you get to meet authors. It will be fun all around.”
“Literary Nevada” is an attempt to represent the literary history of Nevada as well as the state’s complexities, Glotfelty said. From local Native American oral stories to immigrants’ narratives to stories about the Comstock Lode, the anthology presents the different perspectives about Nevada, both positive and negative.
“We have glittering casinos, we have the atomic test site, we have snow-capped mountains and parched deserts and a very diverse population,” Glotfelty said. “I would hope that by reading this, any single stereotype you might have of Nevada would no longer seem appropriate. That Nevada really is so much more interesting, fascinating and complicated than you initially think.”
In 1990 Glotfelty launched the massive project to compile and edit the more than 200 writings by over 150 writers for the anthology. As a professor new to the University and the state, Glotfelty was first exposed to literature about Nevada in her Literature of the Far West and Nevada class.
“When I was preparing for that class I realized there is far more literature of Nevada then I could even fit into a semester’s course,” Glotfelty said.
In researching for Nevada literature to teach in her class, she made a different discovery.
“I started to wonder, why don’t we have a state literary anthology?” Glotfelty said. “All of our neighboring states have these wonderful literary collections, but Nevada didn’t have one and I don’t know why that is. There’s so much good writing here.”
Glotfelty made an effort to focus on a “sense of place” while searching through the massive amount of different writings about Nevada. The anthology represents not just key regions, cities or towns within Nevada but also the places and the people that are generally overlooked.
“I wanted to make sure to represent the north and the south, the rural and the urban, insiders and outsiders, diversity of race and ethnicity,” Glotfelty said.
The anthology includes such renowned writers as Robert Laxalt, voice of the Basques in America; Ann Ronald, Nevadan nature writer; Dan DeQuille, Comstock Lode storyteller; and Waddie Mitchell, cowboy poet, whom Glotfelty named as her favorite writers after much thought.
“That’s such a hard question,” Glotfelty laughed when asked who was her favorite writer in the anthology. “I truly do love them all.”
Along with a sense of place, Glotfelty hopes the anthology will also lend a sense of home to readers of the anthology. “Literary Nevada” is meant to rid Nevada’s name of any single stereotype and to instill a sentiment of complexity and home.
“I hope that, when readers read this book, they’ll be able to feel like Nevada is their home and be able to love and strongly identify with this place,” Glotfelty said. “I think that if you feel somewhere is your home, you’re liable to be more vested in it and take better care of it. Once you read these works it enriches your sense of living in Nevada.”