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Fabulous Fiction Firsts #729, “Baseball is the most perfect of games, solid, true, pure and precious as diamonds. If only life were so simple.” ~ W.P. Kinsella

Fri, 03/20/2020 - 8:15am by muffy

cactus_league

The Cactus League (in downloadable OverDrive eBook) by the editor of the Paris Review, Emily Nemens opens with the 2011 spring training of the Los Angeles Lions at their new state-of-the-art facility in Scottsdale, Ariz. At the center of the novel is their “movie-star handsome, paparazzi famous and spectacularly talented” outfielder Jason Goodyear. This recently divorced Golden Glove winner and American League MVP runner-up seems to be coming apart at the seams. 

In a series of interconnected stories, we come to know the individuals who orbit around Jason: a sportswriter going after a sensational story; a batting coach dealing with a domestic crisis; a fortysomething cleat chaser eager to test her charm; with a big Nike deal on the table, an agent hopes to keep his client out of the tabloids; an owner who allows his personal agenda to shape the season; an ill-paid stadium organist; a young boy at the mercy of his mother’s addiction; and Jason’s fellow players who are willing to do what it takes, just to play. 

Nemens has... written a novel about baseball and how it shapes the lives of athletes as much as the town that supports it - and a beautiful one at that. Like the best sportswriting, this bighearted, finely observed novel is about far more than the game.” (Kirkus Reviews)

Emily Nemens grew up a Seattle Mariners fan. Her family’s trips to spring training in Arizona informed the setting. In a recent interview with Kirkus, she shared the three baseball books that inspired The Cactus League.

resisters

Another baseball book this spring that is definitely not JUST about the game is Gish Jen’s The Resisters. The author needs no introduction.  Her latest is the story, set in a near-future dystopian America, of one family’s struggle to maintain its humanity and normalcy in circumstances that threaten their every value--as well as their very existence.

At the heart is young Gwen, born with a golden arm, she plays in secret in an underground league all of her young life. When her talent is discovered, and is recruited by the university for the privileged, her moral and personal resolve will be severely tested.

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