From the internationally acclaimed author of The Preservationist comes a provocative retelling of the story of Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel: a novel that gives new meaning to the words "temptation," "rivalry," and "murder."
Their expulsion from the Garden is only the beginning: Eve and Adam have to find their way past recriminations and bitterness, to construct a new life together in a harsh land. But the challenges are many for the world's first family. Among their children are Cain and Abel, and soon they must discover how to be parents to one son who is everything they could hope for, and another who is sullen, difficult, and rife with insecurities and jealousies. In the background, always, is the incomprehensibility of God's motives as He watches over their faltering attempts to build a life. In Fallen, David Maine has drawn a convincing, wryly observant, and enthralling portrait of a familyone driven (and riven) by passions, irrationality, and love. The result is an intimate, in-depth story of brothers, a husband, and a wifepeople whose struggles are both completely familiar and yet utterly original.
|Publisher:||St. Martin's Press|
|Edition description:||First Edition|
|Product dimensions:||5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.80(d)|
About the Author
David Maine was born in 1963 and grew up in Farmington, Connecticut. He attended Oberlin College and the University of Arizona, and has worked in the mental health systems of Massachusetts and Arizona. He has taught English in Morocco and Pakistan, and since 1998 has lived in Lahore, Pakistan, with his wife, novelist Uzma Aslam Khan.
Read an Excerpt
40 the old man
The mark burns upon him all the time now. Its hurt is open and shameful like a scab picked until it bleeds. In years past he could find ways to forget it or at least misplace his awareness for a while; it was never easy but he managed. These days he cannot. There is nothing to fill Cain's time so the mark does this for him.
It stains his flesh like a parasite.
Countless people have witnessed it over the years, but even those who have not don't lack for an opinion. Some say it is a letterthe first letter of his name, reversed to show God's displeasure. Others say it carries the shape of a stillborn child, or a wolf's skull, or a coiled serpent. Still others, less fanciful perhaps or just duller, claim it is no picture at all. Merely a smear unreadable, the Devil's thumbprint or God's. What does the shape matter? The point is, it is there, plainly visible, crying out to be seen.
But the miracle lies in the seeing. For all those who look upon the mark see it differently. Like the Tower of Babel reflected mirrorwise, everyone who lays eyes upon Cain's face beholds something different from all the others, sees the message spelled in a different tongue, though the message is always the same.
And what message is thus conveyed? A simple one: Don't touch. Stay away. Leave this one alone.
The others in this house, Cain's in-laws and grandchildren, heed this advice and give him a wide berth. Only his son remains stubbornly loyal. And recently, his dead brother as well.
But now Cain is convinced that Abel has left him forever: tonight's visit was his last. So with nothing more to do, he waits to die. He is not being dramatic. Among his many faults, this is not one. He expects to be dead by morning.
The old man shifts and wheezes. The wet climate he finds himself banished to torments his breathing. Deserts are tough but at least the air is clean. Not that he expects sympathy: impetuous he may be, hot-tempered and violent, resentful and self-pitying, any number of undesirable qualities. But he has never been stupid.
So then. He shifts his weight in the crepuscular gloom of the hut and allows his gaze to drift past the low open entryway, outside to where the fading crimson sky has clotted into dusk. From outside float children's laughter and the calmer voice of his son. Cain knows he is not welcome out there. Nor unwelcome exactly; but if he ventured from his hut the voices would quickly fade, glances would be cast down, the children would drift off, and the women's mouths would tighten.
No. He will stay inside this night. At least it will be his last such.
Cain settles onto the earth, arms folded behind his head. A sigh ripples through his nose and musses the yellowing whiskers of his beard. So the matter of his mortality has been decided. In a strange way a burden has been lifted. If he were carefree he might start whistling, but he is not. He is a man who dwells upon serious thoughts. As a boy he dwelt upon serious thoughts. As a fetus in his mother's womb he was prone, quite likely, to serious ruminations, while his lighthearted brother simply enjoyed spinning and kicking in the watery gloom. People change in some ways as they grow; in other ways they don't.
Maybe that's the nub of it, he thinks. Maybe that's where all the problems started between himself and his brotherhimself and his motherhimself and his father. With two unborn souls, spinning or brooding in the watery wet, waiting for the unforgiving light of their first morning.
There is something in that, some truth waiting to be grasped like a teat in an infant's hand. But like that teat, the truth is too large and unwieldy for the old man's grip, and when he clutches at it, it bounces to one side, slipping heavily from his fingers. And whatever lies beyond Cain's vague sense of disquiet slips away as well.
He is old and gets distracted easily. When the idea is gone he doesn't bother to follow it, and soon forgets it altogether.
This evening Cain appears calm but he his not. His terror is that of a tiny boy dropped from a great height during a thunderstorm while vultures pluck his flesh. His stomach feels slightly out of kilter, down where his intestines should be. This makes his midriff hurt. It makes his back and his loins and his molars hurt. Was this how his brother felt as the life hurtled from his body, or did he feel something else entirely? Rage for example or bewilderment, or perhaps an overwhelming grief that blotted out all else with enormous reptilian wings?
Cain tucks his chin against his clavicle, shuts his eyes tight, and tries to keep the world at bay. Outside, his grandson Irad cackles as the children play some game involving rocks and noise. He is, he thinks, almost ready to leave this place behind forever. Almost eager, in fact.
So behold him there: Cain lying alone in the hut, thinking back on his life, tallying it up. Waiting to die.
Copyright © 2005 by David Maine
Table of Contents
|Book 1||The Murder|
|40||The Old Man||3|
|37||Thirty Years Previous||17|
|33||The Years Previous||47|
|Book 2||The Brother|
|28||Some Weeks Previous||75|
|27||The Old Man||83|
|24||The Previous Two Years||101|
|Book 3||The Family|
|19||The Previous Winter||130|
|15||Two Summers Previous||156|
|13||The Second Son||167|
|12||The Previous Murder||171|
|Book 4||The Fall|
|8||Two Years Previous||197|
|5||The Previous Spring||216|
|2||That First Morning||233|
|1||The Old Man||244|
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
The story of Cain and Abel told backwards. Begins with Cain as an old man works back to Adam and Eve's first night outside Eden. So smart and readable and funny in parts.
This book was quite possibly the best biblical fiction book I have read in the past few years. Fallen is the story of Cain and Abel, and alternately, Adam and Eve. The book begins with the ending and cleverly winds it's way back to the beginning, with the body of the story told in shifting time-lines. Maine brilliantly manages to keep the story line comprehensive and lucid. I was very struck by the spare, yet visceral language throughout the book, and the motivations of the characters were portrayed extremely well. I raced ahead to finish the book, all the while trying to slow myself down so there was more to savor. Though the story is familiar to most, the nuances and subtleties that were infused throughout the book made this a one of a kind story, one where even though the outcome is predicted, the road getting there is anything but.Most know the infamous story of the two brothers, Cain and Abel, but what is portrayed here is so much more. Maine has managed to take small snippets of those famous verses in the Bible and make them delectably consumable, and downright wonderful. Cain is portrayed as a difficult and tractable young man, bordering on heretical. He is forever feeling slighted and wronged, and his attitude only makes things more difficult for himself. It is hard to find sympathy for Cain; he is virtually unlovable, and remains so for the entirety of the novel. It becomes easy to see him follow his path from anger to murder. Even in his exile, he curses and berates God, making him seem all the more recalcitrant and miserable. His reflections upon himself and his inherent differences from his family are captivating, and make him a full and interesting character.Abel, on the other hand is wonderfully compliant, kind and friendly. Though he tends towards platitudes and bossiness, the goodness in him shines through. Abel, his mother's favored child, strives for peace in the family, and is usually the one to try and persuade Cain to abandon his fits of pique. He is loving and forgiving, and he is truly humble to the Lord. He is constantly trying to find his brother's heart and make him see reason. It is clear to see that Abel is light to Cain's darkness. The insight gained regarding Abel's unselfish love for his brother make Cain's act all the more incomprehensible. Though Abel is more of a simple man, his devotion to his family and his God are very moving.As the story moves forward, the focus is on Adam and Eve and their flight to safety after being banished from the Garden of Eden. It is a sorrowful trek that visits many misfortunes and hardships upon the two. Everything that could possibly go wrong for them does so from the beginning. Adam's staunch belief in the Lord pulls him through the struggles, and makes him accepting of any travail that comes their way. Eve is not always so emotionally compliant. There are scenes in which she doubts the intentions and safeguarding of God, and in these moments, Maine has cleverly elaborated on what can only be speculated upon. The awareness of the characters was also a great touch. These fictional characters see themselves as we would see ourselves today, their hopes, fears and dreams are fully realized within the story, and the effect is that all the characters are living, breathing and thinking entities who can be understood and appreciated.At the close of the book, the story has finally come around to the beginning. God has banished the couple from paradise for their sin, and they are left wondering how and where they will survive. The fear they feel is perceptible, and their reactions to it recognizable. This story has been heard countless times before, yet what is different this time around is the cognizance of the sinners. It is so much clearer to imagine, in this novel, who and what Adam and Eve were like, and what they were thinking. By making them so human, the author has made them so much more plausible and believable. One can imagine feeling the same way today if one
New twist on Adam & Eve's fall from grace. Worth reading.
This story of Cain & Abel & Adam & Eve (after their banishment from The Garden of Eden) is necessarily even more imaginative than The Preservationist, because there's so much less detail in the biblical account. This one, with its more serious themes of fratricide & banishment & disinheritance (both God's of Adam & Eve & theirs of Cain), lacks much of the humor that was integral to The Preservationist, but it has the same wit & keen insight couched in the same spare, precise prose. Here the story is told backwards, with each chapter (40 of them, a good biblical number) about a time preceding the previous one. Through the characters' memories, Maine skillfully drops hints about earlier events but also introduces surprising developments in nearly every chapter. And his method heightens our sense as readers of how events shape later events.
Loved it. As with all of David Maine's books (to date) this is the story of Cain and Abel (as well as Adam and Eve) told backwards, from Cain's death to the beginning of man. I love his work, and his mind, and his writing! I really enjoyed how when Cain, Abel, Adam or Eve tell "their" story -- it is from their perspective, which adds richly to the novel. Maine has a unique and wonderful way of writing, and of seeing the world.
A modern retelling of the story of Adam and Eve¿told in reverse order starting with Chapter 40 which describes Cain¿s last night on earth and ends with Chapter 1 which tells of Adam and Eve¿s first night outside the Garden. There are 4 sections: Book 1, ¿The Murder,¿ tells of Cain¿s life after the murder ending with a short paragraph of ¿The Murder¿ (Chapter 31); Book 2, ¿The Brother,¿ starts with ¿The Murder¿ from Abel¿s aspect and moves backward to tell of the life of Cain and Abel told from Abel¿s point of view and includes God¿s acceptance of Abel¿s sacrifice and rejection of Cain¿s ending with ¿The Proposal¿ that Adam makes to make an offering to God; Book 3, ¿The Family,¿ starts with ¿The Proposal¿ from Adam¿s point of view and tell the story of the family back to the birth of Cain; Book 4, ¿The Fall,¿ describes Adam and Eve¿s adjustment to their new life immediately after the expulsion from the Garden, from Eve¿s point of view. One of the intriguing things to me when I first picked up this book was the arrangement of the chapters and the chapter titles which seem to recur and revolve, rather like the poetic form of a Villanelle. This is one of the best books I¿ve ever read based on a Bible story. So much of it rings exactly true (especially why God rejected Cain¿s sacrifice¿best explanation I¿ve ever seen). It would make a great discussion book for anyone interested in Adam and Eve¿or even just a discussion about families.
Not too impressed with this one, though it was quick enough that I finished it in one day. It's one of those books whose premise sounds interesting, but ends up lacking a little something in the execution. As you might have guessed from the title, it's the story of the Biblical first family. The twist is that it's told back to front; it starts with Cain as an old man and goes back through time to the moment that Adam and Eve are expelled from the Garden. The story just felt flat to me; it didn't add much to or change my perspective on the story that I already knew.Maybe my hopes were just too high for this one, but it was a disappointment.
Most current fiction is thriller, terrorist topic oriented. This story is very different. Even if you are not a biblical scholar, you can appreciate the story as just that-a good story. If you are convinced of the veracity of the Bible story, it gives you some unique points of view.
Fallen is David Maine's spare but stylish retelling of the stories of Cain & Abel and Adam & Eve. Proceeding in reverse chronological order from the end of Cain's life to the exile of his parents from the Garden of Eden, this is an intriguing, moving and sometimes hilarious profile of the first dysfunctional family. We can recognize the characters as people we know, people like ourselves and our families. The novelist has immense sympathy for the quirks and failings of his very human characters as well as a keen appreciation of the humor ¿and the poignancy ¿ of the human condition. This Midrashic 'take' on Genesis is highly original and highly entertaining, as well as theologically sound. Having read it through once, I was unable to resist reading it through again ¿ immediately, just in case I missed some early bits of the satire (wonderful one-liners!) or some of the persuasive psychological insight. Even during the second reading, I found myself laughing aloud at times. Fallen is quite a remarkable performance. I look forward to reading Maine's next. book -- soon.
Maine's book is very thought provoking and gives reader a history with an original flavor! Its lucid and intriguing - full of human, everyday life emotions, that are out of bounds for us to discuss as these 'people' are sacred....but we forget that they were human too. Excellent work! Two thumbs up!