cover image How I Got Cultured: A Nevada Memoir

How I Got Cultured: A Nevada Memoir

Phyllis Barber. University of Georgia Press, $24.95 (189pp) ISBN 978-0-8203-1413-6

In this account of her Mormon childhood in Nevada in the 1940s and early '50s, Barber notes that at age 12 she began ``to feel rumblings inside that I might exist as a separate entity from my family.'' That premonition was gradually realized after her family moved from the sheltered government-town ambiance of Boulder City, where her father was a Hoover Dam employee and a Mormon official, to ``another world called Las Vegas.'' A piano prodigy, Barber relished preparing for her featured roles in Mormon socials, but it was during her high school years in Las Vegas that she explored a larger, less inhibited world. Barber recounts how she became a member of the Las Vegas Rhythmettes, and her disappointing meeting with visiting maestro Leonard Bernstein, with self-deprecating humor and a youthful brio in a memoir that captures a vivacious girl's efforts to express herself within contradictory milieux. Barber, a professional pianist, teaches in Vermont College's graduate writing program. (July)