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September 26, 2008
By Scott Gayer
Author James Houston will speak as the Robert Laxalt Distinguished Writer for 2008 at the Joe Crowley Student Union theater on Wednesday, Oct. 22 at 7 p.m. Houston will also be signing books after his talk.
Houston is a fiction and non-fiction writer who has penned 17 books including “Snow Mountain passage” a highly praised novel about the Donner Party from the point of view of leader James Frazier Reed and his daughter Patty. He also co-authored a memoir with his wife Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston titled “Farewell to Manzanar,” a story chronicling the Wakatsuki family’s experiences in the American government’s internment camps during World War II.
Houston was chosen to be the sixth Robert Laxalt Distinguished Writer for his experience in writing and his varied experience in non-fiction and fiction. This experience mirrors Robert Laxalt’s literary legacy in journalism, memoir, non-fiction and fiction, says Warren Lerude, journalism professor and member of the program’s board.
“We wanted to get somebody who has the same literary charisma as Bob Laxalt,” Lerude said.
At the ceremony, Houston will receive a medallion that will be presented by Laxalt’s daughter Monique Laxalt, an author and attorney practicing in the Reno area.
The Reynolds School of Journalism, which hosts the Distinguished Writer Program, invites members of the University community as well as the local community to Houston speak.
“This brings role models here where students can meet with them and learn through their literary skill,” Lerude said.
He said bringing renowned writers and reporters to the University serves not only honor Laxalt’s memory but also to inspire young and up and coming writers at the University and within the larger community.
“We want to honor Robert Laxalt’s legacy in writing,” Lerude said. “And we wanted to contribute to new generations of writers by bringing top writers here in Bob Laxalt’s name to visit new generations and to encourage writing on a globally celebrated basis.”
The annual Robert Laxalt Distinguished Writer Program began in 2004 as a way to commemorate Robert Laxalt’s memory as a writer and reporter. Laxalt was the author of the memoir “Sweet Promised Land,” and the novella “A Cup of Tea in Pamplona.” Laxalt was also the director of News and Publications at the University, helped found the University of Nevada Press and the Center for Basque Studies at the University.