Guest Post by Shauna Briggs
Grief and loss in Sin City. Erin Langner’s debut essay collection, Souvenirs from Paradise, hits on the allure and beauty of one of America’s favorite tourist destinations – Las Vegas. The backdrop of the classic Vegas casinos led Langner to receive the Wendy S. Walters’ 2021 Creative Nonfiction Book Award from publisher Zone 3 Press. Weaving in the city’s history – the fabled old strip, various casino myths, and celebrity stories – with her own experiences and emotions are what makes this collection so hard hitting. Langner convinces the reader of all the charm and complexity of Vegas’s most popular casinos, driving us with her when she writes about her first road trip into town. She captures the outsider-moved-in perspective seamlessly while reconciling the irreparable pain of loss: “People had been telling me for years that I would love Las Vegas, but I refused to believe them.” Neon lights, ringing slot machines, musical impressions, mob memories, and painful history. . . what’s not to love? Langner expresses a complicated and scintillating love in brilliant lyrical prose.
Souvenirs from Paradise by Erin Langner. Zone 3 Press, November 2022.
Reviewer bio: Shauna Briggs is an English teacher on Cape Cod and is currently pursuing her MA in English at Bridgewater State University. She lives in Massachusetts with her husband, dog, and two cats.