Beneath the Neon
|Genre||Social sciences, History|
|June 15, 2007|
|Media type||Paperback, eBook|
Beneath the Neon: Life and Death in the Tunnels of Las Vegas is a non-fiction account by author and journalist Matthew O'Brien, with photos by Danny Mollohan. It chronicles the author's time in subterranean Las Vegas. As he pursued a killer hiding in the tunnels, he discovered hundreds of people living underground and interviewed many of them for the book. It was released in June 2007 by Huntington Press.
Equipped with a flashlight, tape recorder and expandable baton, O'Brien, an editor at the time for Las Vegas CityLife, an alternative weekly newspaper, for four years explored the black-and-gray underworld of the Las Vegas flood-control system.
In June 2008, an exhibit based on the book was built and displayed for two months at the Contemporary Arts Collective in the Arts Factory in downtown Las Vegas.
To recreate the feeling of life in the dark tunnels, graffiti artists from the drains gathered to paint the exhibit room's walls, and a curator gathered up items from the underground world, including O’Brien’s knit cap he wore and flashlight he carried while in the tunnels.
In describing the exhibit, CityLife art critic Jarret Keene asked, "When was the last time you attended an art exhibit based on a book?"
"Arguably the scariest nonfiction narrative about this city," Keene wrote, "Matt O’Brien’s Beneath the Neon: Life and Death in the Tunnels of Las Vegas gives readers a dark and eye-opening look at what it means to exist under -- and we mean literally under -- the (Las Vegas) Strip."
In its May 2007 review, Publishers Weekly wrote, "Continually contrasting the sparkling casinos above with the dank, cobwebbed catacombs below, the observant O'Brien writes with a noirish flair, but his compassion is also evident as he illuminates the lives of these shadowy subterranean dwellers."
The book brought international attention to the fact that homeless people were living underground in Las Vegas. "Nightline" called the revelation "a much darker side to Las Vegas." Mediabistro.com wrote, "O’Brien paints a starkly different portrait of the city than the one you get while playing the $25 table at the Bellagio."
A translated French edition was released in 2012.
- Sucked Into The Tunnels Beneath Las Vegas : NPR
- Las Vegas Strip Home to Homeless - ABC News
- Behind the Neon - Las Vegas Weekly
- Las Vegas CityLife, "Beneath the Neon: The Exhibit,' June 16, 2008[permanent dead link]
- Nonfiction Review: Beneath the Neon: Life and Death in the Tunnels of Las Vegas by Matthew O'Brien, Author, Danny Mollohan, Photographer , photos by Danny Mollohan, cover phot...
- Beneath the neon: Life underground in Vegas - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)
- granma.cu - Thousands of homeless living in tunnels Archived May 10, 2013, at the Wayback Machine
- Editorial - Page 2 - MBToolBox Archived October 10, 2014, at the Wayback Machine
- France24 International News, "The end of the American dream," April 19, 2012 Archived August 30, 2012, at the Wayback Machine