Let’s get the disclosure out of the way first: P Moss’s new book, Vegas Knockout: A Novel in Stories, is published by CityLife Books, a division of blah blah blah. Deal with it.
As it happens, that sentiment — deal with it — would be wise advice for many of the characters in Vegas Knockout, most of whom have, well, issues. Set against background buzz of an approaching prize fight, the book checks in with hustlers, dreamers, schemers, crooks, clowns, perverts and many, many others.
On Thursday, Sept. 6, Moss will host a book-launch party at his infamous Double Down Saloon. In addition to a reading, he promises midgets, freaks and loud music. (8 p.m., free.)
There’s a wild assortment of people in this book — most of them troubled, damaged or, in a few cases, completely unhinged. Yet mostly they seem to fit easily into the context of Vegas. How many of them are based, either substantially or just a molecule or two, on real people?
All but one of the characters in the book are based on real people. Some a little, and some a lot. The only character who is not real is the Chinaman. He is, down to his core, a truly good person. I felt the city should be represented by one, even if I had to make him up.
The stories are unified by the rising anticipation of a big prize fight. Why did you choose that narrative strategy?
The prefight bloodlust raging through all tiers of society has the world focused on Las Vegas. The good vs. evil event is more hyped and anticipated than any election, World Cup or Super Bowl. But as with any event of this magnitude, the really interesting stories are of the people on the periphery. People whose lives are affected as much or more than the principals. That’s why the book is structured the way it is.
Do these stories, taken together, attempt to comment on the soul, or essence, of Las Vegas, or did you just want to tell some crazy stories?
The book is intended as a social commentary. One man’s search for the soul of Las Vegas.
When do you find time to write?
I write in the morning, before the static of the world around me has a chance to get in the way. SCOTT DICKENSHEETS