Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Spotlight: Arroyo by Chip Jacobs

by Chip Jacobs

Rare Bird Books
October 15, 2019
Historical Fiction
Hardcover / ISBN: 9781644280287

Set against two distinct epochs in the history of Pasadena, California, award-winning writer and debut novelist Chip Jacobs writes in Arroyo 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' vividly descriptive 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.


"Who'd have thought the ghosts clustered under an old bridge could slip so artfully into a cast of real and imagined characters? ... Arroyo is unrelentingly bizarre, perversely funny, and absurdly true —mostly. Pure jazz!" —Ron Franscell, bestselling author of The Darkest Night and The Deadline

"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 ... Jacobs' maiden venture into the realm of fiction ... is an almost impossible blend of the historical with the supernatural...and the result is sublime." —David Kukoff, screenwriter and 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, and his Arroyo and ... unique presentation of the real facts using real and imagined characters, along with a nice bouquet of romance and you have a story that is guaranteed to bring you a lot of laughs, a few tears and a very real knowledge of Old Pasadena and the important role it played in the formation of early LA. A delightful read, highly recommended" —Steve Hodel, bestselling author of Black Dahlia Avenger

"I hear T.C. Boyle. I hear Tom Wolfe ... This trans-dimensional tale revolves around the ... Colorado Street Bridge (the so-called Suicide Bridge), an iconic Southern California structure, an architectural gem with a sordid and glorious history — and some unfinished business ... Edgy and satirical, yet rooted in fact, Arroyo is a fact-paced technicolor timepiece that bridge life and death and the present" —Mike Consol, author of Hardwood

About the Author:

Chip Jacobs grew up in northeast Pasadena. In 1985, he graduated from the University of Southern California with BAs in journalism and international relations. He lives in Southern California with his wife, a USC public relations professor, and their two children. Chip's previous non-fiction books include Strange As It Seems: The Impossible Life of Gordon Zahler, The People's Republic of Chemicals, and the international bestselling Smogtown: The Lung-Burning History of Pollution in Los Angeles. His reporting has appeared in Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Daily News, CNN, The New York Times, Bloomberg, L.A Weekly, Pasadena Weekly, and San Gabriel Valley Tribune, among others.

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