About the Book
Publication Date: October 15, 2019Rare Bird BooksHardcover & eBook; 384 Pages
Set against two distinct epochs in the history of Pasadena, California, Arroyo tells the parallel stories of a young inventor and his clairvoyant dog in 1913 and 1993. In both lives, they are drawn to the landmark Colorado Street Bridge, or “Suicide Bridge,” as the locals call it, which suffered a lethal collapse during construction but still opened to fanfare in the early twentieth century automobile age. When the refurbished structure commemorates its 80th birthday, one of the planet’s best known small towns is virtually unrecognizable from its romanticized, and somewhat invented, past.
Wrought with warmth and wit, Jacobs’ debut novel digs into Pasadena’s most mysterious structure and the city itself. In their exploits around what was then America’s highest, longest roadway, Nick Chance and his impish mutt interact with some of the big personalities from the Progressive Age, including Teddy Roosevelt, Upton Sinclair, Charles Fletcher Lummis, and Lilly and Adolphus Busch, whose gardens were once tabbed the “eighth wonder of the world.” They cavort and often sow chaos at Cawston Ostrich Farm, the Mount Lowe Railway, the Hotel Green and even the Doo Dah Parade. But it’s the secrets and turmoil around the concrete arches over the Arroyo Seco, and what it means for Nick’s destiny, that propels this story of fable versus fact.
While unearthing the truth about the Colorado Street Bridge, in all its eye-catching grandeur and unavoidable darkness, the characters of Arroyo paint a vivid picture of how the home of the Rose Bowl got its dramatic start.
Praise for Arroyo
Los Angeles Times Bestseller
SCIBA (Southern California Independent Booksellers Association) Bestseller
A CrimeReads & Goodreads most anticipated book
“Jacobs’ thoroughly researched debut novel excavates the buried history of Pasadena . . . a riveting and enjoyable look at how local myths are constructed, and a vivid depiction of a time and a place that felt full of possibilities”–Booklist
“A love letter to small-town America, celebrated here with conviction and warmth . . . Jacobs handles the historical material superbly, skillfully relating the complicated and tragic story of the bridge’s construction while convincingly depicting a variety of historical figures . . . A promising and ambitious effort”–Library Journal
“A completely original and genre-defying work–both historical novel and metaphysical noir . . . The author has caught the brass ring and given it to us as pure gold–Tristine Rainer, author Apprenticed to Venus, My Years With Anaïs Nin
“Arroyo is unrelentingly bizarre, perversely funny, and absurdly true–mostly. Pure jazz!”–Ron Franscell, bestselling author of The Darkest Night
“Chip Jacobs combines the historical deep-dives of Erik Larson and Caleb Carr with the sweep and grandeur of E.L. Doctorow’s best work, albeit with a sense of . . . whimsy . . . the result is sublime.”–David Kukoff, editor of the bestselling Los Angeles in the 1970s: Weird Scenes Inside the Goldmine
An “amazing history . . . Jacobs is one of the best wordsmiths I know . . . guaranteed to bring you a lot of laughs, a few tears and a very real knowledge of Old Pasadena”–Steve Hodel, bestselling author of Black Dahlia Avenger
“Edgy and satirical, yet rooted in fact, Arroyo is a fact-paced technicolor timepiece”–Mike Consol, author of Hardwood
This book is going to romance anyone who has a love for Pasadena as it explores the city and its history. While I am admittedly not very familiar with the city, having never been, I do have to admit that I was instantly intrigued by this book because of the dog. What can I say, I’m a sucker for a book with a main character that is described as a psychic dog!
While I enjoyed this book, I can most definitely say that I would’ve enjoyed it even more if I had been from the area. Arroyo definitely falls in between a deep dive historical fiction and an oddly magical realistic surrealist type of thing. I don’t know how to describe it, it was just in a world of its own. Some parts might feel like they’re dragging a bit, but just keep reading because there’s just so many interesting things packed into this book.
I found the history and the story following the Suicide Bridge to be very interesting. I vaguely knew of the history, but I couldn’t have given any specific facts on it, so it was really interesting to get a deeper look into it.
About the Author
Chip Jacobs is a Los Angeles Times bestselling author and journalist. His most recent book is his debut novel, Arroyo, historical fiction set around the construction of Pasadena’s mysterious Colorado Street Bridge in 1913. A Goodreads and CrimeReads most anticipated book, Arroyo was hailed by Booklist as a “riveting and enjoyable look at how local myths are” made. His other books include the biography Strange As It Seems: The Impossible Life of Gordon Zahler; the environmental social histories The People’s Republic of Chemicals and the international bestselling Smogtown: the Lung-Burning History of Pollution in Los Angeles (both with William J. Kelly); the dark-humor true crime caper The Ascension of Jerry; and the stories collection The Vicodin Thieves. Jacobs has also contributed pieces to anthologies, most recently for the bestselling Los Angeles in the 1970s: Weird Scenes Inside the Goldmine about the attack on an idealist lawyer by a depraved cult. His reporting, which have garnered seven Los Angeles Press Club awards, has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, L.A. Daily News, CNN, The New York Times, Bloomberg, L.A Weekly, among others. He is currently at work on a follow-up novel and a non-fiction project.
*I received a copy in exchange for an honest review*