Children of Las Vegas

“People come to Vegas to blow off steam and then go. But I’m stuck here. When I see the city lights I think of all the parts they don’t shine on. I feel like I’m living there, in those parts. The shadows pull you under. There’s so much between me and the lights.”

Las Vegas is a much regarded city, a global celebrity for its glitter and splash, and its offer of fulfilling all your desires without any repercussions. But what happens to the people who have to grow up there?

Award-winning author Timothy O’Grady lived and taught in Las Vegas for two years, and in a class he was teaching, his students began to speak of what it was like to grow up in the world’s playground. They spoke of being robbed by their parents, routinely losing their homes and raising themselves while their parents pursued the addictions serviced by the city. There were overdoses, desert shoot-outs, suicides, all before high school was over.

Children of Las Vegas is a collection of ten of their stories, interspersed with short essays about the city by Timothy, and portraits by highly acclaimed photographer Steve Pyke.

There are horror stories in every city, but these things were not just happening in Las Vegas, but because of it.

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Children of Las Vegas

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“It gripped me, moved me, appalled me, astonished me, enlightened me, profoundly upset me, amazed me (resilience!), drove me to read on and on. It is a city guide like no other to a particular circle of glittering hell in which the arcades of mirrors of fun show us the fantastical distortions of our wishes gone wrong, come true. You orchestrate and conjure and share the voices of these remarkable citizens with such gentle clarity and moral kindness, and it adds up - like the individual mirrors of the great star-seeking telescopes - a vision which shows us all how where and why we are now. Your own descriptions of the landscape and cityscape are so beautifully eloquent. Like you, and I am staggered this book is not published with alacrity, to wide acclaim, as one of the few 'travel' books - along with something like Anna Funder's Stasiland - which are necessary classics. The world must catch UP!” —Award-winning poet Nick Drake

“The reader is gripped as the stories follow each other, stepping stones through a dark hell lit up by garish lights. These are brave, honest, articulate stories, the children wise beyond lifetimes. … A quote from Robert Fulghum precedes the first interview: ‘Don’t worry that children never listen to you; worry that they are always watching you.’ This quote is repeated on the back cover, reminding us that not only is Las Vegas a metaphor for American society or global consumer greed, it is also a mirror of all human desires and failings. Children of Las Vegas is a modern fairy tale, much more than a sum of its parts.” —Irish Times


Timothy O'Grady