The Moth is one of those works of classic literature that has all but faded into obscurity. It's a thirty-odd-year epic of a man named Jack Dillon, who started out life as a singing childhood prodigy in his church's choir and even got a lot of money out of it, only to have his father take control of his funds and then lose it all in the Great Depression.
Following that, Jack also becomes a college football player, a tramp, a fieldworker, all the while encountering women with whom he falls in love with, or who fall in love with him. Sometimes these women are a lot older than him, and other times, in the case of his fiancee's ten-year-old sister (ew!) they're a lot younger. A lot younger.
At first I found The Moth really engaging and the repeated moth motifs in the book were done really well. That fell apart towards the middle, though, as did the overall thread of the novel. Cain writes in the style of James Joyce and John Steinbeck but without the clear-cut prose and finesse that have earmarked those authors as men of distinction. Rather, Cain comes across as a watery imitation, trying too hard to sound erudite.
Comma placement is especially haphazard, to the point where it actually broke up the narrative and made it hard to follow transition scenes and descriptions.
If you're interested in the Great Depression, and don't mind a bit of trashiness in your literary fiction, you might like this. Especially if you liked Jon Krakauer's Into the Wild. Many of the things Jack does and experiences on his adventures across the Depression-era United States really reminded me of Christopher McCandless's self-imposed lifestyle.
On an unrelated note: This book is classified as a mystery, but it really isn't. The other books this author writes are mysteries and thrillers, but this is a deviation from his usual works.
1.5 to 2 out of 5 stars.