I came to literary tourism through the doors of a used bookstore. Via the hunt. And yet, as you can see from all of the categories (destination, event and activity) listed on this website, book shopping represents just one of many ways in.
For example, you can enter through the pages of a novel. In this case, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson. In it, the two lead characters check into The Mint Hotel after booting it from L. A. to Vegas in their rented, drug-laden
The Mint sadly is no longer, at least its name has gone. The place is now known as
Binion’s. So, I called them up and got a tour of the hotel part of what is now a casino complex. Turns out it, the tower, has been closed, awaiting renovation, for some four years now. Nonetheless, we traipsed up in un-airconditioned heat to the 12th and 18th floors, in search of rooms 1221 and 1850. No such luck. Neither exist. We did however visit the 5th floor and a double bedded room that more than likely served as sauce for Thompson’s meatball imagination. We also hit the rooftop patio, complete with empty swimming pool, and a great view of these
which would have been around in the 70s.
From Binion’s I hi-balled it across town to the Special Collections Library at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas where you’ll find everything you ever wanted to know about the history of ‘Sin City’, including The Mint. Here’s how ‘the tallest building’ in Nevada
looked shortly after it went up. Here’s
they promoted it, and here’s what they stirred their drinks with
(please forgive the fuzziness – although after a few cocktails and a hit or two of ether, this is probably what they’d look like). I also got to play with a First
Edition of the novel.
How did this physical framing of the book affect my experience of it? Rather pleasingly I’d say, bringing it out into the real world has certainly made both events – the reading, and the visiting – more distinctly memorable. There’s a thrill attached to seeing in real life what you’ve first encountered in your imagination – even if the two don’t always match. Extending my encounter with the book was fun, a continuation, an excursion, a kind of treasure hunt, in a way, which takes us back to the start, searching for things – books in one case, deeper understanding in the other – trying to impose order on the chaos.