Lost Cain

On August 4th, 1967 a powerful earthquake rocks the tiny Arkansas town of Lost Cain on the banks of the Mississippi River just north of Memphis.  At that same moment, Lola McCallister, 17 years old and barely 7 months married to a local boy sent off to Vietnam, gives birth to a baby on the porch of the local midwife – much to the delight of onlookers and the horror of Lola’s mother, Ida Pico, who proclaims loudly and often that the 8 pound baby boy is most certainly premature.

“For years afterward, people would talk of the day the earth shook in 1967 and Cain McAllister came screaming into the world on Brucie Lunsford’s front porch. All claimed to have been there at some point during the birth, whether they actually were or not.  Leaving out all but the most pleasant of the details, the town created a gauzy myth that made people wonder if this boy wasn’t meant for something.  I wondered myself.”

Told in Multiple First Person, we follow the young life of Cain McAllister and the women who dote on him – Lola, Aunt Trudy, Ida Pico and most of all, Mrs. Odell Brinkly, the childless town secretary and “governess of all things beautiful in Lost Cain” which, truth be told, ain’t a whole lot.

Filled with entertaining characters, heart-wrenching tragedy, and great personal humiliation – as all good southern stories are - Lost Cain chronicles the life of one boy searching to be seen.  While the impoverished little town struggles to stay above water – both figuratively and literally, since the Mississippi is slowly taking back over – Cain determines, with hilarious unintended results, to get Southern Lifestyles magazine to feature the town in a pictorial.  We won’t give it away but it includes Randall Poff, the alcoholic town mayor/veterinarian, Peggy Leggett’s homemade chocolate gravy, some butt-ugly shrubbery and three, possibly dead, beavers.

A larger, more serious picture develops in the summer of 1979 when a new preacher ignites a revival, Cain finally finds a best friend, and a troubled young girl seeks refuge from a horrendous situation.  Told with humor and levity, Lost Cain touches on the very fundamental questions of faith, hope, and community.  Though isolated in geography and culture, many of the prevailing issues of the troubling 1970’s surface.  The climax of the story and its characters takes place on a bridge high above the swollen Mississippi River.  In the summer of 1979 another earthquake rocks the New Madrid fault line - forever changing lives and sealing the fate of LOST CAIN.