Modernist Studies Association's annual conference, this year held at the airport-like Flamingo Hotel in Las Vegas and appropriately structured around the theme of "Modernism & Spectacle." Surrounded by everything we love, hate, love to hate, and hate to love about the Entertainment Capital of the World, P&PC presented on one panel ("Beyond Modernist Periodization"), chaired another panel ("Spectacular Language and Projected Verse"), hobnobbed with new and old friends and colleagues, and even got a chance to visit the center of Vegas home-brew activity, Aces & Ales. As you might assume from our lack of posting activity over the past two weeks, we've been trying to recover ever since. No, we didn't get a Mike Tyson tattoo on our face, nor did we meet up with Zach Galifianakis, nor did much happen that had to stay in Vegas. But the city's crush of bikini-clad dancers, artificial light and smell, slot machine chimes, overpriced everything, and lots of sloshed, overweight people staggering by on the sidewalks wearing balloon hats and fake grass skirts put us in a bit of a funk from which we're just beginning to emerge.
Everyday Reading: Poetry and Popular Culture in Modern America, which Columbia University Press featured at its book table, which will hit warehouses in a week or two, and which P&PC got to hold for the very first time. It's beautiful—and it sold! Indeed, perhaps due to some shameless promotion on the part of this blog and its associates, it was Columbia's best-selling conference title; when we left for the airport, only one copy remained on the book table, and we've got our fingers crossed that that one went as well. Maybe Everyday Reading wasn't dressed up in a balloon hat or a fake grass skirt—can you imagine the gents on the book cover at Treasure Island or the Luxor?—but it found its own little place in the desert that we won't soon forget.
Margaret Konkol (pictured here), who got a copy and a personalized inscription for a consumer-friendly conference discount. And even if you weren't at MSA, P&PC has made sure that you can get a hefty discount if you order right from Columbia University Press as well. That's right: if you use the coupon code EVECHA, Columbia will—as a courtesy to P&PC readers and friends—give you a 30%-off discount. That brings the cost of Everyday Reading to under $20, or to just about the cost of printing four boarding passes ($5 each) at the Flamingo Hotel. We're not going to say that the opportunity to get out of Vegas isn't worth it—we were more than ready to go. But what's going to stick with you longer: the breakfast buffet at the Westin ($22.96), six coffees from Java Detour ($3.23 each), two rolls of quarters and an hour sitting at the slots, or the 302 pages of Everyday Reading? Hold on for a moment—is P&PC making a spectacle of itself? I guess maybe we learned something from Vegas after all.