Monday, January 02, 2006

Book No. 46: Fallen by David Maine

Like Maine's previous novel The Preservationist, Fallen is an unlikely Biblical story told realistically. The subject of this one is the story of Cain and Abel and their parents, Adam and Eve. It is told backwards, starting with the end of Cain's life, to his wanderings, to his murder of his brother, then Abel takes over as the primary narrator, establishing himself as a bit dim but good-hearted, and finally Adam and Eve tell the story of their explusion from The Garden. Although The Preservationist was hilarious throughout, Fallen gets funnier as it goes, and my favorite part, easily, is the moment where Adam explains to a young Cain and Abel about his origin while Cain, the most intelligent (and miserable) member of the family, keeps asking his father if, surely, he is speaking metaphorically. Among the other elements of life that Maine breathes into this story are the Oedipal conflict between Adam and Cain and the clear connection between Abel's sacrifice of sheep and Cain's sacrifice of Abel (in lieu of his father).

I'm not sure if Maine can continue to mine the Bible for inspiration successfully. Both of his novels are brilliant, but I wonder how many more unlikely Biblical stories can sustain his sort of half-sarcastic, half-sympathetic eye. However, I am sure that if he changes direction for his next novel, it will be as brilliant as his first two.


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