The Cactus League: Stories




Master of Fine Arts (MFA)



Document Type



THE CACTUS LEAGUE: STORIES is a linked collection that takes place in Scottsdale, Arizona, during the spring training season for Major League Baseball. The nine stories in the collection revolve around the fictional Los Angeles Lions and their springtime home, zooming in and out of the lives of not only baseball players, but also the front office personnel, service workers, spouses, and fans who have hitched their hopes on the baseball season. A young pitcher recovering (or not) from Tommy John surgery, the impoverished son of a seasonal concession worker, the migratory pattern of a fleet of baseball wives, the favorite songs of an ailing stadium organist—these stories investigate baseball culture but also delve into an exploration of contemporary American society, from coming of age to end-of-life care, from copper stripping to selfies. A lifelong Seattle Mariners fan, I started regularly traveling to Scottsdale in the 1990s to attend baseball spring training with my father; I have since revisited the region a number of times. A far cry from the places I've lived (Seattle, Providence, New York, and Louisiana), I was fascinated by the landscape and built environment—even more so as the Phoenix area boomed and dramatically busted in the recent financial collapse. In watching this transformation, Scottsdale's rich geological, economic, and architectural history, from prehistoric to present day, became topics I wanted to explore. I’ve always seen baseball as a sport, of course, but also as an important reflection of American culture. In the case of THE CACTUS LEAGUE: STORIES, baseball offered me both the mirror and the magnifying glass I needed to write a collection about life in this strange and beautiful corner of the world.



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Committee Chair

Davis, Jennifer Suzanne



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