Sites to See

Reading By Neon

( In the late ’90s, back when I was working at the Las Vegas Sun’s offices on Valley View Boulevard, I heard tell of a cabal of editors and reporters that would head to a bookstore at lunch. Once there, they would scour the magazine racks, pick up special orders (they averaged several tons a week) and silently walk the shelves, looking for fresh blood. The Las Vegas Review of Books, a blog created by former Sun editors Geoff Schumacher and Scott Dickensheets, at last reveals two members of that shadowy organization—and whaddya know, they’ve got some darned interesting stuff to say about the printed word. Here you’ll find summer reading recommendations, author interviews, analyses of Las Vegas’ treatment in pop fiction, book reviews, used-bookstore recommendations … you know, all the stuff one might expect to find in a Review of Books, only illuminated by neon. The editors and writers of this blog have no illusions of Las Vegas as a mecca for damned intellectuals. But unlike the editors and writers of most publications that are outside this town and looking in, they know that there’s a huge number of readers in this town—some clandestine, some merely obscured from sight by Vegas’ bright distractions. Yes, the cabal lives on.

Most Strange Things

( One cursory look at Emily Carroll’s webpage tells you that the Vancouver, B.C.-based artist is an adept and inventive illustrator. She’s got a cartoonist’s line but works with a painter’s gravity; her illustrations are like forests whose grandeur you can’t fully appreciate until you’re lost in them. I like everything Carroll does, but I’m madly in love with her comics, which feature her illustrative gifts in concert with an equally rich talent for storytelling. “The Death of José Arcadio” unspools itself like a rolling red carpet, both literally and figuratively. “Anu-Anulan and Yir’s Daughter” pulls strands from Greek mythology and the Brothers Grimm and weaves them into an affecting love story. And “His Face All Red” takes the classic tale of the beast that came from the woods and manages to make it more terrifying by taking the focus off the beast and placing it on the villagers hunting it. Sadly, there are only a handful of comics on Carroll’s page; she’s a working illustrator, after all, and fairy tales don’t pay the bills. But they should. Carroll should imagine a world in which fairy tales pay the bills, and find a way to open a shop there. I need her collected works on my bookshelf, between Ingri and Edgar Parin D’Aulaire and Carol Lay.

A Room Full Of Fred

( Most of the videos on YouTube (at least those that don’t feature kittens in some capacity) are devoted to teenagers singing their favorite pop songs. Most of these videos are depressing to watch, because the kids are either really bad or moderately talented but without personality. (The occasional William Hung aside, The Voice and American Idol have made the case that a powerhouse singing voice isn’t quite the rarity we once thought it was. For the record, professional journalists think similarly about good, unpaid bloggers.) Because of this prejudicial view, I nearly missed out on Fredde Gredde—nee Fredrik Larsson, a 25-year-old living in Sweden—and his extraordinary assortment of cover videos, most of which feature the young artist playing multiple instruments and harmonizing with himself through multi-tracking his vocals. Best of all, he appears next to himself when performing harmony vocals and accompaniment; in his cover of Queen’s “Killer Queen,” he appears backed by seven duplicates of himself, wrangling the complexities of Freddie Mercury’s studio-built vocal harmonies. It’s an absolute treat to watch, and even if his singing voice is nothing great, it hardly matters, because his personality wins you over.