The Cactus League

The Cactus League Review

An explosive, character-driven odyssey through the world of baseball
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' 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 Michael Taylor, a batting coach trying to stay relevant; Tamara Rowland, a resourceful spring-training paramour, looking for one last catch; Herb Allison, a legendary sports agent grappling with his decline; and a plethora of other richly drawn 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, Emily Nemens's The Cactus League 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.

Title:The Cactus League
Edition Language:English

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    The Cactus League Reviews

  • Fran

    Nothing is static. "...not a man's career, especially not a ballplayer the first weeks of spring. His batting average, his ambition, his hopes: all is in flux." Salt River Fields in Scottsdale, Arizon...

  • Drew

    5+ out of 5.I don't like baseball. Never found it terribly interesting to watch. So why, then, do I find it so compelling to read? Perhaps it is the structure, a hypothesis about which Robert Coover a...

  • Dax

    Most people are probably going to focus on Nemens use of the multiple POV, a structure she utilizes with much success (except for the chapter centering around the team owner with a bruised ego, as wel...

  • Allison

    As a fan of both baseball and literary fiction I thought Id love this book. Unfortunately, it was not sufficiently about baseball nor literary enough and I did not love it. Thats harsh: I just had too...

  • Matthew

    3.5 stars.I love baseball. A lot. Just how much do I love baseball? So much so I included it as one of my interests on my Goodreads profile! In all seriousness, its been a love affair of mine since I ...

  • Gail

    I love a good book about baseball, and since the coronavirus has wrecked havoc on this years MLB season, this novel (made up of linked stories about a cast of characters whose lives revolve around th...

  • Erica Bauermeister

    I'm not a big baseball fan, but I picked up this book on a recommendation of a friend, and after reading a few pages I was hooked by the author's use of language and her ability to capture characters ...

  • Cherise Wolas

    Set in the baseball and baseball-tangential microcosm of Scottsdale, Arizona, this novel is about various characters connected directly or indirectly to the Lions baseball team -- from Michael, the ba...

  • Curtis Edmonds

    "What Nemens does in THE CACTUS LEAGUE --- and brilliantly so --- is to describe the quietly desperate lives of the various characters and invite the reader to find not only empathy with them, but com...

  • Mary

    Emily Nemens The Cactus League, a novel in interrelated stories, looks at the behind-the-scenes lives of players, coaches and fans at the beginning of one spring season in Arizona for the fictional Lo...