Pasadena Public Library announced their two book selections for Pasadena’s 2022 One City, One Story community reading celebration. In the Country of Women by author Susan Straight is the 2022 One City, One Story selection and Stealing Home, Los Angeles, the Dodgers and the Lives Caught in Between by author Eric Nusbaum is the 2022 One City, One Story Summer Edition.
Now in its 20th year, One City, One Story is designed to broaden and deepen an appreciation of reading and literature and to promote tolerance and understanding of differing points of view by recommending a compelling book that engages the community in conversation.
In the Country of Women is set in the inland Southern California city of Riverside, near the desert and the Mexican border. There Straight, a white self-proclaimed book nerd, and Dwayne Sims, an African American basketball player, started dating in high school. After college, they married and drove to Amherst, Massachusetts, where Straight met her teacher and mentor, James Baldwin, who encouraged her to write. Once back in Riverside, at weekly driveway barbecues and fish fries with the large, close-knit Sims family, Straight―and eventually her three daughters―learned the stories of Dwayne’s ancestors. Some women escaped violence in post-slavery Tennessee, some escaped murder in Jim Crow Mississippi, and some fled abusive men. Straight’s mother-in-law, Alberta Sims, is the descendant at the heart of this memoir. Susan’s family, too, reflects the hardship and gumption of women pushing onward―from Switzerland, Wisconsin, Canada, and the Colorado Rockies to California.
In the Country of Women is a valuable social history and a personal narrative that reads like a love song to America and indomitable women.
Straight was born in Riverside and still lives there with her family. She’s passionate about home, California, the Santa Ana River, the foothills and the deserts, and has been writing about Southern California and the inland area for 40 years. From her kitchen window, she can see the hospital where she was born, which her three daughters find kind of hilarious and pathetic; most days, she walks her dog Angel beside the Santa Ana River, a path she’s followed since childhood, and then past the classrooms at Riverside City College, where she wrote her first short story at 16. In addition to In the Country of Women, she’s published eight novels and two books for children. Her short stories and essays have been published everywhere from The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, and The Guardian to Alta, The Believer, McSweeneys, Zoetrope, Reader’s Digest, Real Simple, and Family Circle. She’s been awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Lannan Prize for Fiction, a California Gold Medal for Fiction, and the Kirsch Award for Lifetime Achievement from the Los Angeles Times Book Prizes.
One City, One Story community programs will be held throughout March, with an in-person conversation with the author held Thursday, March 10, 2022, at 7 p.m., at All Saints Church, 132 N. Euclid Ave. in Pasadena.
The One City, One Story Summer Edition, Stealing Home, Los Angeles, the Dodgers and the Lives Caught in Between is a story about baseball, family, the American Dream, and the fight to turn Los Angeles into a big league city.
Dodger Stadium is an American icon. But the story of how it came to be goes far beyond baseball. The hills that cradle the stadium were once home to three vibrant Mexican American communities. In the early 1950s, those communities were condemned to make way for a “utopian” public housing project. Then, in a remarkable turn, public housing in the city was defeated amidst a Red Scare conspiracy.
Instead of getting their homes back, the remaining residents saw the City sell their land to Walter O'Malley, the owner of the Brooklyn Dodgers. Now Los Angeles would be getting a different sort of utopian fantasy -- a glittering, ultra-modern stadium.
But before Dodger Stadium could be built, the City would have to face down the neighborhood's families -- including one, the Aréchigas, who refused to yield their home. The ensuing confrontation captivated the nation - and the divisive outcome still echoes through Los Angeles today.
Nusbaum is a writer and former editor at VICE. His work has appeared in Sports Illustrated, ESPN the Magazine, The Daily Beast, Deadspin, and the Best American Sports Writing anthology. Born and raised in Los Angeles, he has also lived and worked in Mexico City, New York and Seattle. He now lives in Tacoma, Washington with his family.
Copies of the books are available for checkout from the Library in eBook, eAudio or print format. For more information on One City, One Story and a link to watch a recording of the announcement of this year’s selected titles visit http://cityofpasadena.libguides.com/onecityonestory.