Edwards’ Bookworm hosts new author Laura McBride | VailDaily.com

Edwards’ Bookworm hosts new author Laura McBride

Lisa Ekelman
Special to the Daily
Writer Laura McBride's first novel explores four interwoven stories of characters living in Las Vegas, dealing with contemporary American issues. She appears at the Bookworm to talk about "We Are Called to Rise."
Michelle Adams | Special to the Daily |

If you go...

What: Book event with author Laura McBride.

When: 6 p.m. on Friday

Where: The Bookworm of Edwards

Cost: $10, includes appetizers.

More information: Call 970-926-READ.

EDWARDS — Writing a first novel at any age is an accomplishment, so when Laura McBride wrote her debut at 50, she was most grateful to have her “wild, crazy dream of publication come true.”

Now in paperback, McBride’s novel of individuals careening through an interwoven plot has found its way onto the bookshelves of reviewers, bookstores, libraries and even schools. Today, The Bookworm of Edwards will host the author for a curated question-and-answer discussion about her book “We Are Called to Rise.”

The unique event is poised to begin a conversation between readers and an exciting new voice in literary fiction, said Nicole Magistro, the bookshop’s owner.

“Usually, reading is a solitary activity, yet when we gather to celebrate authors and their stories, we meet across regions and time,” she said. “It is through an exchange of ideas that a book’s power becomes a collective event capable of deepening our understanding of the world we live in.”

Drawing on real life

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Some readers have found McBride’s book transformative, with moments remaining with the reader long after the last page. Perhaps, too, it resonates because the diverse neighborhoods of Las Vegas where the scenes are set seem like they could be on any reader’s street. Brimming with real life experiences and first-hand intelligence of living in Las Vegas, McBride has written a timely novel rooted in America’s contemporary issues — soldiers returning from war, out-of-control police violence and cultural misunderstandings.

McBride writes about Las Vegas as an escape destination where real people live.

“And my story is an expression of that nature. The best and the worst in the story seem particularly likely to me in a boomtown,” she said.

Avis, a rags-to-riches narrator and Vegas native, observes, “I raised my son in a town nicknamed Sin City, in a place most American families wouldn’t dream of bringing their children, in a state where prostitution is legal and gambling is sacrosanct.”

Indeed, the themes of poverty and excess are carefully and compassionately explored. Told in four, alternating first-person narratives, the cadence and rhythm of each character’s voice is original and the reader becomes quickly attached to all of them. Avis is a woman on the brink of divorce; Luis is a returning solider so damaged from his experiences in Iraq that he is not sure how or if he should live; Bashkim is an 8-year-old Albanian-American child caught between the crossfire; and Roberta is a volunteer social worker finding solutions to seemingly impossible problems.

Drawing on diverse cultures and a real life event in Las Vegas — a dramatic police shooting involving an immigrant and her child — McBride’s novel exists between the stories of Albania, Iraq and Nevada. It exists in the moments when each character is called upon to show the greatest humanity they can muster.

And while some traumas reverberate and outlast the core wound, projecting hurt out in unanticipated directions, the book projects an underlying theme of hope that unites these characters and transcends the violence and loss each one experiences.

The novel’s title is borrowed from a line in an Emily Dickinson poem, which taps into that unbridled ability for the human spirit to transcend the difficulties of our physical world — an ability the reader is reminded of time and time again.

McBride currently teaches English at the College of Southern Nevada, is a graduate from Yale, completed a residency at the artists’ retreat Yaddo and has a busy family life.

“I love Colorado in the spring,” she said. “For 10 years, my family would drive to Colorado for music camp. I have the most beautiful memories of those weeks.”

Lisa Ekelman is a life-long reader, book group moderator and bookseller at The Bookworm of Edwards.

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