I just raced to the end of author Charles Bock’s “wide-ranging portrait of an almost mythically depraved Las Vegas” (Publisher’s Weekly). It’s not often that I have the pleasure of living in the same universe as a book. This convergence between fiction and non creates the odd sensation of putting a book down only to continue “reading.”
I was going to complain that Bock created a darker Vegas than the one I live in, until I happened to drop by a CVS on Flamingo Road, about an hour east of the Strip. When I stopped in, I couldn’t tell if I had walked into the store or if I had walked into Bock’s head. Just like the many tattered runaways that populate his book, a sad homeless girl loitered at the entrance. She unfurled a cardboard and marker SOS just for me as I passed. Spurred by Bock’s insiduous moralism, I tried to smile at the girl, recognize her humanity, just as he said she would have wanted. But she looked away. And when I exited the store, she was gone. It was an ending as unsatisfying as the book’s.