The Donald W. Reynolds School of Journalism at the University of Nevada, Reno, University Libraries Special Collections and the University’s Center for Basque Studies recently hosted a release party for Warren Lerude’s book “Robert Laxalt: Story of a Storyteller” at the Mathewson-IGT Knowledge Center.
In this new biography, Lerude, professor emeritus of journalism, focuses on Laxalt’s development as a writer, especially through his formative days as a journalist in Reno and Carson City, and on to Laxalt the family man, teacher, publisher and much more.
“The odyssey of this book began with an idea from my longtime friend and colleague Bruce Bledsoe,” Lerude said. “Bruce brought it to my attention that of the 17 books Laxalt wrote, none of them were biographical in nature. With a little nudging from Joyce, Bob’s wife of 52 years, and their daughters Monique, an attorney and novelist, and Kristin, a physician, I decided to take on the project.”
Laxalt is the most acclaimed writer from Nevada in modern times. His 1957 classic, “Sweet Promised Land,” not only brought to life the immigrant experience of the Basques who had come to the United States as sheepherders, it served as an exemplary story for all immigrants to the United States.
Laxalt, who died in 2001 at 77, left a legacy of evidence about his writing life in the Special Collections and University Archives Department at the Knowledge Center. Special Collections is home to 26.5 cubic feet of Laxalt’s papers spread throughout 33 rectangular boxes.
“So much of what Laxalt was known for is contained in our collection,” said Jacquelyn Sundstrand, manuscripts and archives librarian for the Special Collections Department. “Warren reviewed numerous drafts of Laxalt’s various novels, manuscripts, correspondence and more to help bring his professional history to life.”
The book is published by the Center for Basque Studies.