Jason Goodyear is the star outfielder for the Los Angeles Lions, stationed with the rest of his team in the punishingly hot Arizona desert for their annual spring training. Handsome, famous and talented, Goodyear is nonetheless coming apart at the seams. And the coaches, writers, wives, girlfriends, petty criminals and diehard fans following his every move are eager to find out why ― as they hide secrets of their own.
Humming with the energy of a ballpark before the first pitch, Emily Nemens’s The Cactus League unravels the tightly connected web of people behind a seemingly linear game.
Narrated by a sportscaster, Goodyear’s story is interspersed with tales of a batting coach trying to stay relevant; a resourceful spring-training paramour looking for one last catch; a legendary sports agent grappling with his decline; and a plethora of other characters, all striving to be seen as the season approaches. It’s a journey that, like the Arizona desert, brims with both possibility and destruction.
Anchored by an expert knowledge of baseball’s inner workings, Nemens’s novel is a propulsive and deeply human debut that captures a strange desert world that is both exciting and unforgiving, where the most crucial games are the ones played off the field.