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Reno/Tahoe Lit Legends

A trip to Reno and Lake Tahoe affords some new insights into the literature and literary history of the area. Thanks to the homey Sundance Books, a delightful bookstore housed in an old mansion near downtown Reno, for this enlightenment.

Reno and Lake Tahoe both have fairly transient populations and their literary figures have had similar nomadic tastes.

Mark Twain (who chose his nom de plume in the silver rush boomtown of nearby Virginia City), John Steinbeck (who was a caretaker at Fallen Leaf Lake, and later worked at a Tahoe fish hatchery while writing his first novel “Cup of Gold”), Jack London, Bret Harte, Dan DeQuille (who wrote at Virginia City’s Territorial Enterprise newspaper alongside Twain), and Arthur Miller and Saul Bellow (who were neighbors at Donner Trail Ranch, a former “divorce ranch” in nearby Verdi); Bellow worked on “Henderson the Rain King” in Verdi, while Miller wrote of his experience in the 1957 Esquire story “The Misfits,” which later became the last film for both Marilyn Monroe and Clark Gable—and was filmed in Reno. Long-term resident writers have included Sarah Winnemucca, Adrian C. Lewis, Walter Von Tillburg Clark, William Stafford, William A. Douglas, Robert Laxalt, Rollan Melton, Oakley Hall (who founded the Community of Writers at Squaw Valley) Ellen Hopkins, , Sarah Weeks, Jane Rule, and Emma Sepulveda.

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