An inside look at Las Vegas
summit daily news
“Under the Neon Sky” starts out strong, raunchy and raw. As author Jay Rankin, who worked as a night doorman at MGM Grand in Vegas states: “The Strip is dangerous. Like a jungle, exotic creatures materialize, and their beauty seduces, but they are predators, and their poison is lethal.”
It seems unlikely for a man with an advanced degree in psychology to place himself in one of the most bawdy cities in the United States, but that may be the exact key to Rankin’s success in portraying Vegas’ less than bright side.
Though he watches his life – and friends – unravel before his very eyes, beginning with his wife who flirts at bars while he’s working, and ending with the murder of a friend due to an affair, he still managed to survive in Vegas for six years.
While the first chapter starts with adrenaline-pumping grittiness, the following handful of chapters drone a bit, compared to the introductory allure. But in these pages Rankin introduces readers to his wife and coworkers and how he landed a high-tipping, enviable job at the MGM. Once readers get past the necessary “background” information, the book gets exciting again.
Rankin works with a pill-popping exercise fanatic, a man who can’t seem to quell his attraction to a stripper and a supervisor whose soul mission in Vegas seems to be making people see the light and repent through Jesus Christ. In between, he runs into all kinds of drunks, big spenders, shy bachelors and prostitutes.
He vividly portrays the epitome of Vegas – a collection of neon buildings where people drop all inhibitions and live days and nights that blend together into hedonism without boundaries.
“It’s not a city that’s about making good decisions, or knowing when to stop,” Rankin writes.
And, once Rankin pulls readers into his world, full of out-of-control, yet sympathetic “characters” (who are actually real people), it’s hard to put the book down.
To reveal how Rankin came out after six years in Sin City would be to ruin too much of the story, but in the end, “Under the Neon Sky” sheds an unpleasantly haunting light on Vegas.
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