Readers, Writers, Listeners, Friends

Originality lives here. Here is a place built on a hopeless and unwavering love for the output of the human imagination; a place of infinite horizons where books, music, and any other notion that endeavors to open one heart to the wonders of another will always have a place at the fire; a creative tavern of the soul where we can experience our best selves through reading and writing and listening. And enjoy others doing the same.


The His & Hers Book Club

Sundance Books and Music is pleased to announce The His & Hers Book Club.  Beginning October 8, we’ll meet the second Wednesday of most months to discuss books that distinguish themselves in scope, style, and form. The facilitators will be Curtis Vickers and Alissa Surges, who will bring the same wit, wisdom, and enthusiasm you’ll find in their book reviews for Sundance Books and Music’s forthcoming blog Frontlist ←→ Backlist.

Participants will meet like-minded Northern Nevadans, offer their insights on the books discussed, and find the love of their lives. (Well, the last part is up to you, but hey, a charming bookstore in an historic building with a bunch of bright and funny folks talking about good books? We’ve done more than e-Harmony ever could.)

Interested? Email Alissa at, with the subject line “His & Hers Book Club.”
UPDATE: The book club is currently full but we would be happy to add your name to the interest list and invite you to join us if a spot opens up.

Dates & Books:

October 8: China Mieville, The City and the City
November 12: Sarah Waters, The Little Stranger
January 14: Tom Perrotta, The Leftovers
February 11: Charlie LeDuff, Detroit
March 11: Wallace Stegner, Crossing to Safety
April 8: Raymond Carver, What We Talk about When We Talk about Love
May 13: Rachel Kushner, The Flamethrowers

The Facilitators
Curtis is one of two new additions to Sundance Books and Music. He and the other newbie, Alissa Surges, spent the last three years as colleagues teaching English composition, literature, and creative writing at UNR. Curtis and Alissa will be bringing you new book reviews on their forthcoming Frontlist←→Backlist blog, monthly book-club discussions, and their immense love of dogs. Neither one is sure which was more important in their hiring—their backgrounds in writing and teaching literature or their respective pooches, Reno and Personal Jesus, AKA, PJ.

Curtis Vickers
Curtis is a fiction writer, and while he waits for his agent to sell his first novel, Wildland—featuring wildland firefighters, modern-day cattle rustlers, and the Montana burn that brings their lives together—he is knee-deep in research for his next manuscript. The new project will be set in Brooklyn, 1870. So, while his research for his manuscript simmers, go ahead and ask him about the so-called “rat pits” in New York City and the sleazy politics surrounding the funding of the building of the Great Bridge.  Ask him about the workers digging out the foundation of the Brooklyn Bridge in a caisson—basically, a huge, upside-down boat, filled with compressed air--120 feet below the East River riverbed.  Ask him about what happened when the caisson caught fire—in the middle of a shift.  Go ahead.  Ask him.  He’ll talk your ear off. 

As you might expect, he’d also be happy to talk to you about novels—from literary fiction to sci-fi to fantasy to epic fantasy.  His reading interests range from Sarah Waters to Nick Hornby to Cormac McCarthy to Aimee Bender.  Oh, and he just finished the latest in the Song of Ice and Fire series and eagerly awaits the next installment. 

Alissa Surges
Alissa Surges has a master’s degree in non-fiction creative writing and has taught women’s literature and composition at UNR for the last seven years. Her favorite books of the last year include The Golem and the Jinni, Alena, and a guide on backyard chickens; her reading interests range from well-written memoirs to fantasy to literary fiction. When not running away from her aggressive backyard chicken, Madame Peckinpah, she is finishing the All Souls trilogy.

This program is made possible through a partnership with Nevada Humanities and with support from the Nightingale Family Foundation.


Thanks for coming out to hear David Sedaris, Reno! Thank you Nevada Museum of Art, Nevada Humanities and the Nightingale Family Foundation; Craft Wine and Beer and Still Rollin Food Truck for the delicious refreshments; Tim O'Brien, Travis Bennett and Lee Felch for making us look so good with our new branding and signs; all of our amazing volunteers; and thank you, Reno, for being a community that values and supports your independent bookstore. (Photo courtesy of Tim O'Brien)


Shut up, You’re Fine!: Poems for Very, Very Bad Children
Poems by Andrew Hudgins
Drawings by Barry Moser

Reviewed by Sundance Staff Memeber Curtis Vickers

The euphoria of Father’s Day has passed, but the “joy” of parenting continues.  Still.  Again.  Every.  Day.  You love your kids.  I know.  You do.  Seriously, you do.  Even when your children have been very, very bad.

In Shut up, You’re Fine!: Poems for Very, Very Bad Children, Hudgins writes irreverently and knowingly about the joys and trials of being a child, with an eye toward the adult we all become. 

In “The Tooth Fairy,” he tackles one of childhood’s greatest mysteries with this opening stanza:

Each time another tooth falls out
I yearn to learn the truth
About what kind of crazy thief
Swaps cash for my old tooth.

As you can see, Hudgins takes a whimsical approach to his subject matter, and that whimsy translates into something that poetry too often is not: laugh-out-loud raucous. 

But even in the midst of the humor, Hudgins always tries to fish out truth.  In a later section of the collection, Hudgins ruminates on how, as a child, his greatest heart’s desire was to eat chocolate icing—“all I could acquire.”  True enough.  But—and this is what makes this collection great—what Hudgins does next with this poem is to find the truth of that desire that still lurks in every adult.  The speaker of the poem then talks about how many times, as a young adult, he had been at a bar with friends and ordered a beer, instead of what his “greatest heart’s desire” still was: eating chocolate icing, all he could acquire.  We grow up, Hudgins seems to be saying, and the world expects our tastes to grow up with us.  But inside, deep down, we’re still those same very, very bad children we always were, looking to eat chocolate icing, all we could acquire.

Fun, funny, smart, and accessible, Shut up, You’re Fine! brings intelligence and humor to that activity we’re all still trying to do: growing up. 

Reviewed by Sundance Staff Member Curtis Vickers
Available in hardcover from Sundance Books and Music


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