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UNR honors Nevada authors
by Tribune Staff
Nov 01, 2010 | 893 views | 0 0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Courtesy Photo - Writer Darrell Spencer is the recipient of this year’s Nevada Writers Hall of Fame Award. Spencer, a professor of creative writing at Ohio University, set his award-winning story “Bring Your Legs With You” around a retired prizefighter living in Las Vegas.
Courtesy Photo - Writer Darrell Spencer is the recipient of this year’s Nevada Writers Hall of Fame Award. Spencer, a professor of creative writing at Ohio University, set his award-winning story “Bring Your Legs With You” around a retired prizefighter living in Las Vegas.
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RENO — From Nevada’s wild horses and gritty boxers, to its controversial mayors and powerful casino tycoons, three Nevada authors have painted vivid pictures of life in Nevada through their writing and will be honored for their work at the annual Nevada Writers Hall of Fame Awards, from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday at the University of Nevada, Reno’s Mathewson-IGT Knowledge Center.

Honorees will be Darrell Spencer, Terri Farley and John L. Smith. Spencer, winner of the Nevada Writers Hall of Fame Award, grew up in Las Vegas, attended Las Vegas High School and UNLV, and sets some of his award-winning short stories in the town he called home while growing up. Now the Stocker Professor in Creative Writing at Ohio University, Spencer spent some time in Utah, earning his doctorate and teaching, before moving east in 1997. His most celebrated work, “Bring Your Legs with You” (2004), for which he was awarded the Drue Heinz Literature Prize, is a set of nine interconnected short stories centered around a retired prizefighter living in Las Vegas. Using hard-hitting dialogue and spare prose, the collection leaves a mark on its readers.

Farley and Smith are recipients of the Silver Pen Award, presented annually as part of the Nevada Writers Hall of Fame program produced by the Friends of the University of Nevada, Reno Library. The Silver Pen Award recognizes emerging and mid-career writers of promise. This year, the Silver Pen will be presented to Terri Farley and John L. Smith.

Farley is most noted for her 24-volume Phantom Stallion series for young readers, which is set in Nevada. Although she grew up in Los Angeles, Farley describes herself as a cowgirl at heart, and she and her husband, journalist Cory Farley, have spent much of their lives in northern Nevada, residing in the Sierra Nevada foothills. She earned her master’s degree in journalism from UNR.

Smith, this year’s other Silver Pen recipient, has been a columnist for the Las Vegas Review-Journal since 1987 and has authored a dozen books, capturing the unique personality of Las Vegas and its people in his writing. He chronicles the paths of two of Las Vegas’ most well-known residents, Mayor Oscar Goodman and casino mogul Steve Wynn, in two of his books, “Of Rats and Men: Oscar Goodman’s Life from Mob Mouthpiece to Mayor of Las Vegas,” and “Running Scared: The Life and Treacherous Times of Las Vegas Casino King Steve Wynn.”

But, Smith derived the inspiration for perhaps his most powerful writing from even closer to home. When his daughter Amelia was diagnosed with brain cancer in 2004, he began to write columns about her battle and her bravery. In November 2009, these columns were published in a collection, “Amelia’s Long Journey: Stories About a Brave Girl and Her Fight Against Cancer.” Smith and Amelia, now 14 years old, have raised thousands of dollars for cancer charities.

Smith was born in Henderson and is a fourth-generation Nevadan.

At this year’s Nevada Writers Hall of Fame Awards, the reception and silent auction will begin at 6 p.m., with the formal program commencing 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 on the west side of the Knowledge Center, adjacent to the Brian Whalen Parking Complex. For more information or reservations, call the Friends of the University of Nevada, Reno Library at 682-5690.
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