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Spotlight Fiction: The Cactus League by Emily Nemens

February 26, 2020 at 7:00 PM

Northwest expat Emily Nemens, editor of the Paris Review, returns to Seattle to read from her debut novel, The Cactus League (Farrar, Straus and Giroux), an explosive, character-driven odyssey through the world of baseball which J. Ryan Stradal calls “a masterwork of great empathy and detail, uncovering the realms of incredible pain and beauty enmeshed within every level of America’s pastime.”

After the reading, Emily and writer Adrianne Harun will speak about the book on stage.


About The Cactus League

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, 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.


About the Participants

Photo by James Emmerman

Emily Nemens is the editor of the Paris Review. She was previously the coeditor of the Southern Review. Her work has been published in Esquire, n+1, the Gettysburg Review, Hobart, and elsewhere. Her first novel The Cactus League will be published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux on February 4.


Adrianne Harun is the award-winning author of two short story collections, The King of Limbo (Houghton Mifflin) and Catch, Release (Johns Hopkins University Press), and a novel, A Man Came Out of a Door in the Mountain (Penguin).