"I'm on a crusade," Jenny Shank admits. "There are a lot of great writers here, but they set their books elsewhere. I'm on a crusade to have them write about Denver. It's a great city."
And now she's written a great book set in this city: The Ringer. The novel uses two of Denver's great obsessions baseball and immigration to explore how a community can resolve a conflict. Shank came up with the heart of the plot in 1999, after Ismael Mena, a Mexican national, was slain by Denver police officers executing a warrant at the wrong address. "I took the situation but made up my own people," she says. Those people are Ed O'Fallon, the Denver cop who shoots a Mexican immigrant while executing a warrant that another cop had filled out wrong; Patricia Maestas, the Mexican-American widow of the man who was killed; and the sons of both families, who wind up on the same competitive youth baseball league that lands in the state championships.
Shank likes writing about sports because "people of different cultures come together through sports." She also knows a lot about baseball, since she played softball and there are several baseball players in her family. She didn't know as much about cops, but "I'm curious," she explains. "I ask questions. I talked to a lot of cops."
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You can talk to Shank at the LoDo Tattered Cover at 7:30 p.m. tonight, where she'll read from and sign The Ringer at a baseball-themed book launch; afterward, you can talk with her over beers at a nearby bar about the crusade to put Denver in the pages of more books. For more information, go to www.jennyshank.com.
Fri., April 8, 7:30 p.m., 2011