Off Boulder Highway

The poet Jennifer Battisti was a Las Vegas latchkey kid, with casino employee parents. Off Boulder Highway, her extraordinary memoir, some of it fictionalized, much of it beautifully poetic, all of it alarmingly real, makes the performative Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas seem like a sanitized Disney fantasy. Sloppy sex, meth addiction, blackout drunkenness — this is “Sin City” at its least romantic, most realistic. In less assured hands, the crushing working-class squalor might descend into lurid voyeurism. Battisti, a hugely talented describer of human frailty, is unafraid to tell the truth about her life and her town, making Off Boulder Highway one of the best books about Las Vegas (and the debased culture surrounding it) we’ve ever read.

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