We know P Moss is an awesome storyteller … and The Nevada Review concurs!
From The Nevada Review Vol. 4 Fall 2012 No.2
by Caleb Cage
Not surprisingly, Las Vegas author P Moss’s collection of short fictions, Blue Vegas, is at least in part about people who live sad lives in Nevada’s famous southern city. Men and women from all walks of life who were born there or just settled, surviving away from the glamour, living lives that are never quite what they wanted them to be. The characters of Blue Vegas represent a lot of the reality of the city, the reality that many of the area’s native and transplanted authors have been trying to capture in recent works.
There is a refrain that is repeated throughout the subtext of Blue Vegas, though never quite written explicitly. It is that common phrase that “life is not fair.” While some may say this to mean that one has to accept the good with the bad, Moss seems to write it with an indignant sense of injustice. Life isn’t fair, you can read between the lines, but it should be. Or at least we should acknowledge that fact when we are in a position to judge others, their shortcomings, or their trials.
“Performance Art” tells the story of a convicted murderer who is executed in front of an electrified Las Vegas crowd that cannot understand how ignored he was his whole life. “Snatched” tells of Ben, who has waited for the police to help him when he needed them most, but when he is wrongly arrested, they seem to have more than enough resources at their disposal. And there is Danny in the story “Peace” who contemplates how his life might have been different if he had gone to college moments after being robbed and moments before being killed.
There are many more such examples in Blue Vegas, a short book with too many stories to list here – seventeen in all. In them, he captures Vegas in the same light from many angles. The stories show Vegas as a place where chance brings equal parts hope and guaranteed failure. There is the father who is a successful businessman and gambling addict who has to borrow money from his daughter at the strip club where she dances in order to cover his debts. There is the retired bookie who can’t scrape a meager amount of money to participate in a sure thing scheme that would bring him back into the good life. And there is the past-her-prime showgirl who holds onto her old stories and her faith to help her make it through the lonely nights.
These stories and others capture a gritty side of Las Vegas, which is no doubt Moss’s point. As a writer, gambler, bar owner in Las Vegas, he has an intimate knowledge of many of the things he writes – most of which revolves around gambling, glamour, money, sex trades, and some of the mysteries that tie them together. Set against the backdrop of Las Vegas, many of these themes are reasonably portrayed and believable, often avoiding the clichés that seem to accompany the city’s literature.
The best stories in Blue Vegas – “Performance Art,” “Career Moves,” and “Peace” – are great because of the mystery that Moss builds early on. Nearly every story has an opening line that captures the scene and the reader’s imagination and goes a long way towards building this mystery. “Danny’s shirt was damp with sweat as he sat in a creaky straw-bottom chair, counting to see who had the most chips in a hanging velvet tapestry of Jesus shooting craps with Elvis,” for example.
All in all, this award-winning book represents aspects of Las Vegas that are seldom covered in mainstream literature. Moss is an able storyteller with extensive knowledge of the culture he examines. Blue Vegas is an interesting read, and a worthwhile contribution to the literature of Las Vegas.