Cain's Version

Cain's Version

5.0 1
by Frank Durham
     
 

A stunning tale of imaginative, southern fiction that tells the story of a woman who moves to a quiet Louisiana town, only to be swept into the dramatic return of a son who after centuries of wandering the sea confronts his Mother over a boyhood act of cruelty.See more details below

Overview

A stunning tale of imaginative, southern fiction that tells the story of a woman who moves to a quiet Louisiana town, only to be swept into the dramatic return of a son who after centuries of wandering the sea confronts his Mother over a boyhood act of cruelty.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

In his complex, mystical debut novel, Frank Durham concocts a post-Edenic yarn set in a small laid-back town in central Louisiana. Lindy Caton, 42, divorces her itinerant preacher husband who slept with men and gets herself involved with three "half-crazy" old ladies in Acheron-Seelah, Adhah and Uhwa- raising a truck garden. The old ladies tell vivid Bible stories, while Lindy mulls over the fate of her mother, "Sunshine" Caton, who took off with a neighbor years before. Turns out the eldest old woman, Uhwa, is actually the biblical Eve who arrived with her sisters after an epic flood to live in modern Acheron. The sisters were rescued from the deluge by Cain, who has wandered the earth yearning to make peace with his mother over slaying his brother, Abel. Durham draws parallels between Sunshine's reckless flight to Wyoming and Cain's roving that help to inform Lindy's quest to understand the past. Cain's sections, however (particularly his overwrought quest for his mother's pardon), are told in a stilted prose that slows the story's pace and compromises its accessibility in an otherwise inventive first novel. (Oct.)

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Nashville Scene
Of all the Bible's perplexities, the story of Cain and Abel is surely one of the most arresting. Why did God refuse Cain's sacrifice? Why did Cain kill Abel? Why did God mark Cain to preserve him from death? And what happened to Cain after he was exiled to a life of wandering? The Bible doesn't say, and these questions, together with myriad others, form the heart of Frank Durham's intriguing first novel, Cain's Version . . . The book's sedimented layers of meaning and association generate an exhilarating intellectual puzzle. Freudian flags appear frequently, along with hints of other myths of creation, death and the flood. The novel is serious in tone and purpose, powerfully written in almost Biblical cadences which can transfix the reader. Consider the opening lines of the novel, with Cain speaking: "I will find my mother Eve by means of philosophy. Already by reasoning I have understood the Atlantic sea and the outlines of the new world, and have crossed the one and penetrated the mongrel greenness of the other. She cannot be far away." It's passages like this one that explain, far more than any plot summary could, why Cain's Version is a challenging and satisfying novel which calls out for a second reading, and maybe a third.
—Wayne Christeson
Debut Fiction Bookpage
A remarkable first novel, Cain's Version is a mysterious retelling of the time when humankind left animal instinct behind and took on responsibility for their own actions. As told here, God is mostly absent, and Adam only a little less so. These authorial choices sometimes reduce the drama to a little more than cosmic cases of a perdurable Oedipal complex and sibling rivalry. In demanding his mother's love back, Cain calls for a change of mind that is more than the addled old woman can offer. In the process, he recommits (upon a surrogate Abel) the murder that caused all the trouble in the first place- and with no more guilt about it.
Frank Durham is a retired Tulane University physics professor who honed his writing as the Sewanee Writers conference. Invocation of the "singing of the story," and "the world beyond here and beside now" lends his debut novel the requisite mythical atmosphere, and an environmental jolt at the end adds relevance. One of "the tribe of tellers," Durham comes up with the occasional shot of undeniable truth ("You know how much like hope a dream can be.") And that's really all a reader can demand of an author.
—Maude McDaniel
The Times Picayune
Durham has the gift of creating a complete world, once the reader enters Acheron, that town, that landscape, those characters and their special language are all enveloping. Dream, memory, myth, and the contemporary world all merge into this compelling story of the human need for healing and reconciliation. This is a novel of rivers and trees, gardens and towers, a rich look at the way the long ago appears in the here and now.
—Susan Larson
James Nolan
"Cain's Version is a haunting novel cooked with García Márquez's imaginative fire and served with Peter Taylor's Southern finesse, inventing "biblical magical realism" in the process. Across the centuries, Cain stalks his mother Eve, now living on a Louisiana farm, and once more a boy must be sacrificed. Within the lives of moving contemporary characters, Frank Durham masterfully charts the eternal return of our creation myths: the waters rise, the tower falls, and fratricide is unleashed in the garden, again and again."--(James Nolan, author of Perpetual Care: Stories)

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781596525016
Publisher:
Turner Publishing Company
Publication date:
09/26/2008
Pages:
300
Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 8.10(h) x 1.00(d)

What People are saying about this

Michael Goodell
"From the Homeric cadence of the prologue to the blistering indictment of the entire world with which it ends, Frank Durham's novel, "Cain's Version," is a strange and wonderful book. It is an allegory of man's search for redemption, an epic saga spanning millennia, and a multifaceted tale of familial love. The novel encapsulates the love of a mother for her child, a child for her father, a lost mother, a wayward son; a cast of characters searching in vain for definition, understanding, salvation.

This is Frank Durham's first, and last, novel, written at the end of a long and fruitful life. Unlike most such valedictory efforts, it is emphatically not autobiographical, or if it is, it is done in the most oblique manner possible. A fascinating read. I couldn't put it down until it was done."

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