DOWN FROM MOONSHINE, A FIRST NOVEL BY MARY ANN CAIN

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DOWN FROM MOONSHINE, a first novel by Mary Ann Cain, ranges between the 1920s and 1978, telling the intertwined stories of Viney, an African-American woman who moves to Chicago in the early 20th Century northward migration, and of Lenny and Caroline, an interracial couple trying to find themselves in a quickly changing world.  Viney has a deep love of horses and wants to work with them in Chicago’s racing stables, at a time when it is unheard of for any woman to do so, let alone a Black woman.   The novel starts by bringing to life a gritty world of racing stables and trainers, touts, numbers runners, and speakeasies. This world is counter balanced by Viney’s unique blend of physical, down-to-earth practicality, with her strong, spiritual bond to the horses. As the century changes, “The Stables” becomes first a speakeasy and then an upscale restaurant with a racing theme and decor, haunted by a mysterious manager whom nobody sees. The people who work at The Stables go on with their lives, work, resist change, adapt, or fail to do so. Viney’s horses haunt The Stables, persistent memories like the heritage of racism in our present history, ghosts that refuse to leave after their time is past. The present world of Lenny and Caroline, the young lovers, is embedded in this vivid and determined past, as they struggle to move forward with their lives.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

 Mary Ann Cain lives near the bend in one of the three rivers of Fort Wayne, Indiana, where she teaches prose writing, rhetoric, and Women’s Studies at Indiana University Purdue University Fort Wayne.  She also teaches creative writing for the Three Rivers Jenbe Ensemble, a West African drumming and dance group for young people, and is a jenbe player herself.   India has claimed her as well; she meditates in the tradition of Paramahansa Yogananda and traveled to India where she interviewed devotees of the legendary Anandamai Ma, spiritual advisor to Indira Gandhi, to learn about Indian women’s spiritual practices.

Her fiction, memoirs, and blurred genre work have appeared in numerous literary journals, including the North American Review, The Denver Quarterly, The Sun: A Magazine of Ideas , 13th Moon, Many Mountains Moving, and Hawai’i Pacific Review.  She is the recipient of an Indiana Arts Commission Individual Artist grant, two residencies at the Mary Hambidge Center for Arts, and one at Hill House Writers’ Retreat.  Her book on writing workshops, Revisioning Writers’ Talk: Gender and Culture in Acts of Composing, was published by SUNY Press in 1995.  Forthcoming from Heinemann Boynton Cook is Breathing Spaces: Composing Public Spaces for Writing and Teaching, with co-authors Michelle Comstock and Lil Brannon.

 ADVANCE COMMENT:   

DOWN FROM MOONSHINE is full-on South-haunted gothic, with a deep foreboding that runs from first page to last, inescapable as the scent and smoke from fire. In the tradition of Tony Morrison’s Beloved, Mary Ann Cain has created a rich, complex world of horse racing, numbers running, northward migration, and lingering race and class tensions as characters struggle to build a new life in the  urban midwest out of the ashes of a plantation past.  Immerse yourself, and savor.

---Ron MacLean, author of Why the Long Face?

Mary Ann Cain has written a dramatic and vivid tale of magic and mystery that explores our nation’s complicated history concerning race, gender, and class. This wonderfully vibrant, diverse, and original cast of characters that populate DOWN FROM MOONSHINE  are well served by Cain’s eloquent, sensual --and, frequently, dizzyingly beautiful ---prose.  

 ---Janice Eidus,  author of The War of the Rosens

What gives DOWN FROM MOONSHINE its compelling and lyrical depth is that its author, Mary Ann Cain, has set the hard contemporary realities of an interracial love story in the resonating backdrop of Viney, a woman of multiple heritages from the old South, who still feels the magic of the natural world and who still carries the scars of social bigotry. The dawning of young love becomes the discovery of identity for Caroline and Lenny, who also find the courage to stand up for who they can become together. 

 ---Bill Tremblay, author of Shooting Script: Door of Fire