Friday, January 24, 2020

Book Review: The Cactus League: A Novel by Emily Nemens

Baseball is certainly the most literary sport. It's not my favorite sport, but it tops my sports reading, by far and away. It's no contest. And in this novel-in-stories, baseball once again hits it out of the literary park.

In 9 stories (get it? Like 9 innings?), we see various angles on the L.A. Lions' preseason Arizona league. We start with the batting coach who once tried for the major leagues himself, who returns to his beloved Arizona home only to find it has been trashed by squatters while he and his wife were away. Then we spend time with a woman who once was young and beautiful and hopped from baseball player to player, but now is no longer so young, no longer so beautiful, and no longer has the pick of the team, as she considers reevaluating her life and her choices. Then there's the star rookie.

These stories truly can be read as individual stories, but as they progress, they do coalesce into a greater whole. particularly in the last story as several themes from previous ones come together. Perfect for spring. Perfect for baseball fans. But you don't have to be one to love this book.

This book is published by Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, a division of Macmillan, my employer.

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