Richard O. Davies honored by University’s “Nevada Writers Hall of Fame”
Distinguished history professor emeritus will be inducted Nov. 14
The 26th annual Nevada Writers Hall of Fame will welcome its newest inductee, University of Nevada, Reno distinguished history professor emeritus Richard O. "Dick" Davies, at this year's ceremony from 6-8 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 14 at the University's Mathewson-IGT Knowledge Center. Christopher Coake, who was named "Best Young American Novelist" by GRANTA in 2007 and is a creative writing professor at the University and Tupelo Hassman, a graduate of Colombia University's Master in Fine Arts Program and debut author of girlchild, a novel about a young girl growing up in a cluster of mobile homes outside of Reno, will receive this year's Silver Pen Awards as emerging writers.
Nevada Writers Hall of Fame Award: Richard O. "Dick" Davies
Described in a letter of nomination as a "writer of great versatility and talent," Davies has written and/or edited 15 books ranging in topics from small town America, to sports history and to the people and nuances that helped make up the silver state. When asked about his career as a professor and writer, Davies said all of the books he's written directly enhance his teaching.
"I want my books to educate and I see them as an extension of my classroom teaching" Davies said. "People in my classes would often tell me I was a storyteller and that is how I've approached all of my books. I have a strong obligation to make books readable."
Main Street Blues, Davies's favorite book that he's written, is a study of the small Ohio farming village of Camden, his hometown, and was named one of the top 25 books in American history by Choice.
"I write books I like to read," Davies said. "At various stages of my writing career the topic I was working on was important to me."
Davies is considered one of the country's finest sports historians. His Sports in American Life: A History is a textbook that is used in many college courses dealing with sports across the United States and in other countries. Rivals! The Ten Greatest American Sports Rivalries of the 20th Century is "a deeply researched, entertaining, and insightful look at the cultural and athletic underpinnings of 10 entrenched American sports rivalries, one that offers revelations for fans of any team," fellow author Warren St. John, said.
"I'm like Earl Warren," Davies said. "I always read the sports page before the rest of the newspaper and clearly that carried over into my writing."
Nevada has also provided subject matter for Davies. The Maverick Spirit: Building the New Nevada is a series of portraits of some of the state's most important political figures. His next book, The Main Event: Boxing in Nevada from the Mining Camps to the Las Vegas Strip, set to release in spring 2014, blends his interest in American sports and Nevada history.
Davies, whose parents were both teachers, earned his doctorate degree in American political history from the University of Missouri. He was honored by the University of Nevada, Reno with the Distinguished Faculty Award in 2009 and received designation as a Foundation Professor of History. He first came to the University in 1980 as vice president of academic affairs.
"I'm very honored by this," Davies said. "To have my name included with people like Robert Laxalt and Rollan Melton... it's an honor and I'm very pleased."
The Silver Pen Award: Christopher Coake and Tupelo Hassman
The Silver Pen Award is the other award presented annually as part of the Nevada Writers Hall of Fame. While the Hall of Fame recognizes established writers, the Silver Pen award recognizes emerging and mid-career writers of promise.
Coake's powerful first novel, You Came Back, is a compelling journey through the human heart. His collection of short stories, We're in Trouble, won the PEN/Robert Bingham Fellowship for a first work of fiction.
Coake's stories have been published in several literary journals and anthologized in Best American History Stories 2004 and The Best American Noir of the Century. A native of Indiana, Coake received his master of fine arts degree in creative writing from Ohio State University, a master of arts in creative writing from Miami University of Ohio, and a bachelor of arts in secondary education from Ball State University. He has been a member of the English faculty at the University of Nevada, Reno since 2005, where he teaches creative writing.
Her debut novel, girlchild, is the story of Rory Dawn Hendrix, a young girl growing up in the Calle, a cluster of mobile homes on a plot of dust outside of Reno.
"Hassman is such a poised storyteller that her prose practically struts," the New York Times said about her work. "Her words are as elegant as they are fierce."
Hassman's work has appeared in The Boston Globe, Harper's Bazaar, Imaginary Oklahoma, The Independent, The Portland Review Literary Journal, sPARKLE & bLINK, We Still Like, ZYZZYVA, and by 100WordStory.org, FiveChapters.com, and Invisible City Audio Tours, among others. More is forthcoming from Girls on Fire: Stories of and for Teen Girls. Hassman, who lived in Sun Valley during grade school, now lives in San Francisco's East Bay.
Hall of Fame Awards
The Nevada Writers Hall of Fame was launched in 1988 to honor Nevada's finest writers. The Silver Pen award was added in 1996. Including this year's honorees, 49 Hall of Fame medals and 33 Silver Pens have been awarded to some of Nevada's most noted and promising authors.
A selection committee of representatives from throughout the state chooses the inductees to the Nevada Writers Hall of Fame and the Silver Pen Award recipients. To be considered for either award, the writers must demonstrate a Nevada connection, either in their subject matter or by living in the state.
At this year's Nov. 14 event, the reception and silent auction begin at 6 p.m. and the program begins at 7 p.m. The $40 ticket includes beverages and hors d'oeuvres and supports the services of the University Libraries. Complimentary parking for the event is available in the metered lot in front of the Knowledge Center, adjacent to the Brian J. Whalen Parking Complex. For more information or reservations, call 775-682-6022.