Former CityLife Editor and R-J staffer Geoff Schumacher recently posted a past interview with Vu Tran, one of our Restless City authors. Though Geoff and Vu have both since left Sin City for broader horizons and greater challenges, their conversation about writing, and the authors who have influenced Tran in his relatively young, but remarkable career, is well worth reading. It is obvious that we will be hearing much more about this Whiting Writers’ Award winner! For the complete interview, click here.
Following Restless City . . .
Participants in the Las Vegas Writes project are at work on a short story compilation inspired by iconic Las Vegas photos to be launched at a Vegas Valley Book Festival event set for 7 p.m. Nov. 4 at the Clark County Library, 1401 E. Flamingo Road. The book, edited by Geoff Schumacher, will feature works by authors Megan Edwards, K.W. Jeter, Dayvid Figler, P Moss, Juan Martinez, Alissa Nutting and Oksana Marafioti. Titled The Perpetual Engine of Hope, the project is expected to be serialized on the festival website at vegasvalleybookfestival.org and sold in book form at the festival.
Vu Tran, arguably the most promising fiction writer in Las Vegas, is leaving this fall to teach creative writing at the University of Chicago. It’s a great gig for Tran, who won a prestigious Whiting Writers’ Award last year as one of the nation’s most talented young writers.
“I’m really excited,” he said. “I still can’t believe I’m going to be teaching at the University of Chicago.”
Although the University of Chicago is well known for having served as the academic home of literary legends such as Saul Bellow, Allan Bloom and Norman Maclean, the creative writing program in which Tran will be working is fairly new.
“The creative writing program is a very young and exciting program,” he said. “I’m glad to be going there and to participate in that.” …
After earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Tulsa, Tran picked up a master of fine arts degree in creative writing at the University of Iowa. He came to UNLV as a Schaeffer Fellow in 2003 and earned his Ph.D. over the next three years.
In recent years, Tran has been an adjunct instructor in UNLV’s English Department, living on subsistence wages and no benefits while polishing short stories and beginning a novel. The Whiting award, which included a $50,000 check, helped pay the bills.
“Las Vegas is where I found my footing,” he said. “I started to revise my stories in a kind of rigorous way. . . . When I won the O. Henry prize and got into the anthology [in 2007], I started getting a lot of notice. I felt like my hard work was paying off. I felt finally that I was coming into my own style and I was confident that I had the craft part down.”
Although building a reputation in literary magazines, Tran gained a local fan base through two pieces of writing. Las Vegas Noir, a 2008 anthology of dark crime stories set in Las Vegas, features Tran’s “This or Any Desert,” about a renegade cop tracking down his ex-wife in the underworld of Las Vegas’s Chinatown. The story actually is chapter two of the novel he’s working on.
Tran also wrote the concluding chapter of Restless City, a serial novel project sponsored by the Vegas Valley Book Festival and published by CityLife Books in 2009. He had the daunting challenge of tying up numerous loose ends created by the writers of the novel’s first six chapters. His success drew praise from readers as well as the novel’s other contributors.
Although he’s thrilled by his upcoming move, Tran leaves Las Vegas with mixed emotions. “I’ll miss the unique aspect of being in a city that’s always alive with newness and opportunity and just that silly, unique energy,” he said. “I’ll miss poker. I’ll miss that easy access.” …
Read the full article here.
Grogan’s Tavern — a cultural watering hole
Brian Rouff stopped by the Tavern to discuss his latest work, Restless City, and chat with show host Stephen Grogan about the ever changing world of self publishing and the growth of digital books.
Listen to the interview here.
The Las Vegas Review-Journal’s Book Nook blog posted a review of the CityLife Books premiere title, Restless City.
Guest reviewer Sharon Galligar Chance praised the serial novel for taking her inside the “glitz and glamour, the muck and filth that make up Sin City. There’s nowhere else like it in the world, and these seven diverse authors capture the mystery of Las Vegas beautifully.”
Read the full review here.
A fast-paced detective story. Perfect for insomniacs!
by Amazon reviewer Linda Linguvic
Some books are great for insomniacs. This slim 134 page volume is perfect for that. [Restless City] is a fast detective story with the interesting background that it was written not by one writer but a collaboration of seven, each one writing a chapter and keeping the story thread going to a satisfactory conclusion. All of these writers are from Las Vegas and this theme was conceived at the 2009 Las Vegas Book Festival.
Naturally it’s set in Las Vegas, and each author brings his or her own personal view of the seediness, corruption and outlandish displays of wealth. These guys are insiders, they know their town. And, in a way, it is Las Vegas itself that is the main character in this book. But it does include a private eye, a hard-edged guy named Brady who has given up liquor but has not given up his curiosity …
Read the full review here.
by Megan Edwards ~ LivingLasVegas.com
“…the story simmered along, getting hotter, spicier, and thicker. At the end of her chapter, Ford left Brady trapped in a mansion outfitted for sex parties.
Could Vu Tran, the last writer, find a way to get Brady out alive, solve the crime, and tie up all the loose ends in one short chapter? Sure! Strip the guy and throw him into a naked poker game. Seriously, Tran did a masterful job of finishing, garnishing, and serving.
I’ve now finished reading Restless City, and it no longer seems like soup. Now I feel as though I’ve attended one of those “Taste Of…” events, where dozens of fabulous chefs bring their tastiest dishes, and you can wander from table to table savoring the talents of each …”
Read more here.
by Andrew Kiraly, CityLife
Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2009
Author and UNLV English professor Vu Tran is receiving a major literary award in New York today. Tran is one of 10 young writers to score a Whiting Writers’ Award, a huge get in the world of letters. The $50,000 award is basically literature’s way of saying, “We expect great things from you.” And if the careers of previous winners — including Michael Cunningham, Tobias Wolff and Mary Karr — are any indication, Tran should be on his way to penning some great work indeed. No pressure or anything.
Read more here . . .
Vu Tran, the seventh author in our Restless City serial novel, has won a 2009 Whiting Award. With the literary prestige comes a check for a cool $50,000. The Mrs. Giles Whiting Foundation named ten recipients of the 2009 Whiting Writers’ Awards. The awards have been given annually since 1985 to writers of exceptional talent and promise in early career. The short stories of Vu Tran have appeared in such journals as the Harvard Review, Southern Review, Glimmer Train, and the Antioch Review and have been selected for inclusion in the 2007 O. Henry Prize Stories, Best American Mystery Stories 2009, The Best of Fence: The First Nine Years, and Las Vegas Noir. Born in Viet Nam and a refugee at the age of five, he and his family were relocated to Oklahoma where he grew up and earned a BA and MA from the University of Tulsa. Mr. Tran also has an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and a PhD as a Glenn Schaeffer Fellow at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. He writes often of Vietnamese and Vietnamese-Americans and of the immigration experience. Mr. Tran’s first novel is forthcoming from W.W. Norton. He currently teaches at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and also works as a free-lance editor.
Restless City, the first title from CityLife Books, will go on sale Saturday, Nov. 7, at the Vegas Valley Book Festival. Be ready to drop $14.95 and enjoy this engrossing novel.
Restless City is a serial novel written by seven respected Las Vegas fiction writers. The first six chapters were posted online here and here during the summer and fall. The book’s release will coincide with the 4 p.m. Saturday reading by Vu Tran of Chapter 7, which wraps up the mystery story.
The authors who participated in the book festival-sponsored writing project that resulted in Restless City are H. Lee Barnes, John H. Irsfeld, Brian Rouff, Leah Bailly, John L. Smith, Constance Ford and Tran. The project was edited by Geoff Schumacher.
The book will be released simultaneously as an e-book.