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Book Review: “Lost Cain” by T. Daniel Wright

lost cainBy Michele Trice

This first novel by T. Daniel Wright feels like a slow Southern summer afternoon – warm and familiar. Even if you didn’t have the privilege of growing up Southern, you’ll soon feel as if you did, as if the characters in Lost Cain were old friends you hadn’t thought about in years.

Wright brings his characters to life the same way Southern authors of yesteryear did, with vitality and charisma. Each of the residents of the tiny town of Lost Cain is vivid and flawed and memorable. From the young Lola McAllister, mother of young Cain, named after the town itself, to Mrs. Odell Brinkley, the de facto mayor, this novel is packed with characters richly fleshed out, each with his or her own story to tell.

Under Wright’s pen, each character does tell his own story. We see the story unfold through each character’s individual perspective, feeling the experience as he or she feels it.

“Some would have considered it generous to call this part of Arkansas plain. The land itself was farmland. Flat for as far as the eye could see. Fields followed by fields, ending up in even more fields. Row after row, a tree here or there, a river or creek ever so often. Though I’d always seen it as beautiful, I imagine it drove some people crazy to be able to see that far.

I’d only been to the mountains once, on a trip to the Rockies with Odell ten years before. I remembered how the distant snow-capped mountains were so stunning that I could scarcely believe I wasn’t looking at a postcard. They seemed too beautiful to be real. After a few days, however, I couldn’t help but feel claustrophobic. These great things towering above me everywhere I turned. The delta had spoiled me that way, I guess. The comfort of being able to see exactly what’s coming.”

Those passages are Mrs. Odell Brinkley’s description of Lost Cain, the Arkansas town in which the book is set.

The beauty of Wright’s language takes his readers to the places he wants them to see and experience. With that, he introduces the readers to Cain and Lola and to Cain’s friends, Mark and Macy, to Mark’s family as well as to Cain’s.

Amazon reviewers currently give the book a five-star rating. One reviewer says, “Full of vivid images and quirky, yet true-to-life characters, this novel combines a compelling story with thought-provoking commentary on the topical issues of organized religion, sexuality, and family relationships. A great read for summer – or any time. Looking forward to more by this new author.”

Without a doubt, this will not be the last we see from Wright. He has a feel for the rhythm and hum of Southern life and a gift for bringing loveable, interesting characters and stories to life.

Wright lives and teaches in Kansas City, Missouri. He is now working on a book of essays about the random celebrity encounters of naïve country boy making a movie. You can learn more about him at: tdanielwright.com.

Published by Mockingbird Lane Press, Lost Cain is available on Amazon in both hardcover and Kindle editions.

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