Sixty-four-feet tall and made of metal, the neon giant Wendover Will stands in front of the Stateline casino in Wendover, Nevada and faces east. The sign under him reads "This Is The Place." Over a hundred miles away in Utah, across the salt flats, stands the statue of Brigham Young, atop his monument, proclaiming the same thing, "This Is The Place."
This Is the Place is the sinister story of an aged and lonely blackjack dealer living in Wendover, who becomes obsessed with a nineteen-year-old Mormon girl from Bountiful, Utah. It is a story of love, perhaps doomed, told by an endearing misanthrope who may be delusional, but who has managed to coalesce his manias into an alternative understanding that lies somewhere between Wendover Will's depravity and Brigham Young's morality:
"The dispute between Will and Brigham is not for me to settle, nor would I want it settled. The words hang over the salt flats, the most forsaken stretch of earth, a terrifying expanse of sheer space, white, like another planet, hard and smooth where nothing can live. This all sounds so grim! I've known joy and I'll know it again. It's just that it takes work to get up the words to talk about love."
His love leads him to do a terrible thing, and he tells this story to justify himself. His words, seductive and convincing, draw the reader into a world where the supernatural takes on new meaning. It is a haunting journey to the extreme realities of Las Vegas and Salt Lake City and many places in between. Above all, it is an odyssey to the depths of love.
About Peter Rock
Peter Rock grew up in Salt Lake City, Utah. He is the author of the novels The Bewildered, The Ambidextrist, Carnival Wolves, and This Is the Place. A former Wallace Stegner Fellow and recipient of a 2000 NEA Fellowship, he now lives in Portland, Oregon, and teaches at Reed College.