A perfect evening alone in Las Vegas

Some people do not care about Las Vegas. Some people hate Las Vegas. Some people like Las Vegas ironically. And then some people love Las Vegas. So I’m happy to find myself at the El Cortez Hotel and Casino for one night, by myself, before my sister Katharine comes to meet me tomorrow. The El Cortez is the oldest continuously-running hotel and casino in the city.
Roads & Kingdoms Link to Story

Be a Local and Order Another Martini

A place of insiders and outsiders. And you don't have to go anywhere.
Roads & Kingdoms Link to Story

Grading Shakespeare Papers in a Pancake House

“So what have you got there?" my waitress asks, turning over the coffee mug on my table. It’s the end of the academic year, and a stack of Shakespeare papers divides me from the summer. They must be graded, and I have come to Joey’s Pancake House to accomplish this. The small mountain town of Maggie Valley isn’t far from Asheville, but it’s a different kind of place.
Roads & Kingdoms Link to Story

In a Tiny Mountain Town, One Bar Operates Like It's 100 Years Ago

Although the mountain town of Spruce Pine, North Carolina is only an hour northeast of Asheville, it’s a quieter and less touristy spot, and its antique stores and old movie theater suggest a place connected to the past. Home to just over 2,000 people, it was built on the North Toe River in the early 1900s, when the Clinchfield Railroad made its way into this part of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Tales of the Cocktail Link to Story

Books, Dogs, and Champagne Cocktails at Battery Park Book Exchange

Asheville’s Battery Park Book Exchange brings together three things that many people find irresistible: books, dogs, and champagne. Nestled in one corner of the historic Grove Arcade, this unconventional used bookstore opened seven years ago, but its old-school vibe suggests that it has been there forever.
Tales of the Cocktail Link to Story

Vermouth and Charcuterie: A Match Made in Heaven

Although the North Carolina mountain town of Asheville has long been known for its food scene, it is increasingly becoming a destination for cocktails as well. And the Imperial Life, which is upstairs from one of the city’s most beloved restaurants, Table, is at the forefront of the small city’s evolving craft cocktail movement.
Tales of the Cocktail Link to Story

This Oyster

This oyster knows everything. Once, this oyster lived in the sea. He had an idyllic childhood and a challenging adolescence. Such a craggy little thing. Now, he lives in Grand Central Station, on a plate of shaved ice on a bar. His company is a lemon wedge and eleven of his fellows. Crackers in a clear plastic bag.
Render Link to Story

Unpacking My Bar

This bar will house many objects that have been in storage for the last year. These things are hidden away in boxes that have been hidden away in warehouses. Taking things out of boxes is like acquiring them for the first time. My dining room floor is covered with crumpled packing paper. I am surrounded by boxes, and I have an X-Acto knife.
Cocktailians Link to Story



Susan Harlan is a writer based in Winston-Salem, NC, who is particularly interested in the relationship between place, memory, and objects. Her essays have appeared in publications including The Guardian US, The Paris Review Daily, Guernica, Roads & Kingdoms, The Morning News, The Awl, Curbed, Racked, Atlas Obscura, The Common, The Toast, Nowhere, Literary Hub, The Bitter Southerner, McSweeney's Internet Tendency, The Brooklyn Quarterly, Avidly, and Public Books. She also writes about feminist issues for venues such as Jezebel, Literary Mothers, The Feminist Wire, DAME, Skirt!, The Hairpin, The Establishment, Queen Mob's Tea House, The Belladonna, The South Carolina Review, and The Manifest-Station. She holds a Ph.D. in English Literature from New York University and an M.A. in English Renaissance theater history from King’s College London and teaches English at Wake Forest University. Her book Luggage was published in the Bloomsbury series Object Lessons in March 2018. Her book Decorating a Room of One's Own, a humorous mash-up of home design reportage and literary homes based on her column for The Toast, will be published by Abrams in October 2018.

She is represented by Jim McCarthy of Dystel, Goderich & Bourret Literary Management.

Photo credit Sarah Torretta Klock.



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