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The Postman Always Rings Twice, Double Indemnity, Mildred Pierce, and… (edition 2003)

by James M. Cain

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233949,595 (3.89)1
Member:santhony
Title:The Postman Always Rings Twice, Double Indemnity, Mildred Pierce, and Selected Stories (Everyman's Library Classics)
Authors:James M. Cain
Info:Everyman's Library (2003), Hardcover, 632 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
Tags:Collection, fiction

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The Postman Always Rings Twice, Double Indemnity, Mildred Pierce and Selected Stories by James M. Cain

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Showing 1-5 of 9 (next | show all)
Postman and Double are variations on what is essentially the same story: Scummy man finds married couple, seduces wife, schemes to murder husband, husband dead, things get a bit pear shaped.

Mildred is longer than Postman and Double combined. Pretty good story, but could be based on the true life story of millions of women's lives. It's good that the story is longer, because Cain actually takes the time to develop and tell a story this time. However, so many women have actually lived this story in real life that there is nothing remarkable about it. Take the life of any single mother, and at least half of this story has happened to her. Because of this, the story is only rarely exciting or suspenseful, and could have been much shorter. In fact, the story can be summed up in under 100 words: Woman is married with two children, financial trouble, husband cheats, couple breaks up, single mother struggles to support and raise her kids, couple officially divorced, mother dates a few guys over the years, has some success in business, young daughter dies, other daughter is a pretentious b....., mother and daughter are estranged, reunite, mother is double crossed by b..... Pretentious daughter, the end.

BUT I'm glad I read Mildred. It was probably worth the read. Veda finally got a taste of what she deserved near the end, but only a taste if you ask me. I kinda hoped Mildred would have gone further.

The short stories: At least they're short. Cain, apparently, is fixated on hoboes and trains, cheating spouses and other lowlifes, boring "sex scenes", outdated racial stereotypes, and bad foreign dialects, and most of his writing contains little else. If you've read this book, you'll know what I mean. He attempts irony in Brushfire. Baby in the Icebox is pretty good if you can manage to read it in spite of the "colorful" language. Speaking of colorful language, Pastorale is, for me, unreadable. If Cain is going to write like that, I'm going to throw his book across the room and yell. Just sayin'.

( )
  HenryHunter | Aug 27, 2015 |
Postman and Double are variations on what is essentially the same story: Scummy man finds married couple, seduces wife, schemes to murder husband, husband dead, things get a bit pear shaped.

Mildred is longer than Postman and Double combined. Pretty good story, but could be based on the true life story of millions of women's lives. It's good that the story is longer, because Cain actually takes the time to develop and tell a story this time. However, so many women have actually lived this story in real life that there is nothing remarkable about it. Take the life of any single mother, and at least half of this story has happened to her. Because of this, the story is only rarely exciting or suspenseful, and could have been much shorter. In fact, the story can be summed up in under 100 words: Woman is married with two children, financial trouble, husband cheats, couple breaks up, single mother struggles to support and raise her kids, couple officially divorced, mother dates a few guys over the years, has some success in business, young daughter dies, other daughter is a pretentious b....., mother and daughter are estranged, reunite, mother is double crossed by b..... Pretentious daughter, the end.

BUT I'm glad I read Mildred. It was probably worth the read. Veda finally got a taste of what she deserved near the end, but only a taste if you ask me. I kinda hoped Mildred would have gone further.

The short stories: At least they're short. Cain, apparently, is fixated on hoboes and trains, cheating spouses and other lowlifes, boring "sex scenes", outdated racial stereotypes, and bad foreign dialects, and most of his writing contains little else. If you've read this book, you'll know what I mean. He attempts irony in Brushfire. Baby in the Icebox is pretty good if you can manage to read it in spite of the "colorful" language. Speaking of colorful language, Pastorale is, for me, unreadable. If Cain is going to write like that, I'm going to throw his book across the room and yell. Just sayin'.

( )
  HenryHunter | Aug 27, 2015 |
after [a:dashiell hammett|16927|Dashiell Hammett|http://photo.goodreads.com/authors/1202585790p2/16927.jpg] elevated the nickel pulp to classical status (knopf published his works just as they were serialized), in comes cain. where hammett's books are written from the p.o.v. of law & order, cain usually takes the opposite vantage: the sociopath, or one finding his or herself at odds.

i haven't read all the stories in this edition and look forward to them. [b:serenade|31982|X/1999, Vol. 5 Serenade |Clamp|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1168297849s/31982.jpg|32197] is also well worth a read, lurid as it might get. his book [b:the butterfly|11206|In the Time of the Butterflies|Julia Alvarez|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1211592550s/11206.jpg|1408023] was his biggest seller, 'tho: it's about incest (more prevalent in america than one might otherwise suspect).

cain's hard-boiled prose (honed from apprenticing as a journalist) has great pace, momentum, and drive ('tho [b:mildred pierce|101205|Mildred Pierce|James M. Cain|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1171477039s/101205.jpg|430403] isn't a thriller. his dialogue is incredible, often running a full page without he-saids, and she-countered, and always moves the story in new directions.

(from here [a:raymond chandler|1377|Raymond Chandler|http://photo.goodreads.com/authors/1206535318p2/1377.jpg] takes over, with a protagonist who's been on both sides of the law, in novels whose prose is hot as a hound in a boxcar barrelling past a full harvest moon)
( )
  nobodhi | Apr 8, 2013 |
Dec 13: Mildred Pierce, 3 of 5
May 08: Double Indemnity, 3 of 5
Mar 08: The Postman Always Rings Twice, 2 of 5 ( )
  gunsofbrixton | Mar 30, 2013 |
I purchased this collection of writings by James Cain by virtue of its inclusion in Everyman’s Library list of 100 essential books. Included are The Postman Always Rings Twice, Double Indemnity, Mildred Pierce and several short stories. The Postman Always Rings Twice and Double Indemnity are actually novella length (100 pages), while Mildred Pierce is roughly 300 pages long.

I saw the movie version of The Postman Always Rings Twice, starring Jack Nicholson and Jessica Lange many years ago, but was not familiar with the details of the story. It is an entertaining tale of murder for love and profit and the subsequent ramifications, both legal and emotional. It is well written and, at 100 pages, moves right along. Solid four star work.

Similarly, Double Indemnity also has as its subject murder, this time more related to insurance fraud, though there is certainly a romantic angle. The twists and turns in this story are more convoluted and intriguing. Again, at 100 pages there is no wasted prose and the action moves along quickly. This is an excellent novella. Five stars.

Mildred Pierce is more of a standard length novel, weighing in at about 300 pages. Following up on the much more tightly written novellas, it seemed to drag in places, but was a fine effort nonetheless. The title character is a Depression era housewife, whose husband has lost his job, his ability to support his family and apparently his interest in his wife. Mildred is left to raise her two young girls and does so impressively, by founding a successful chain of diners featuring her custom made pies. The real focus of the story is on Mildred’s relationship with her oldest daughter and the sacrifices and tribulations she faces in her never ending efforts to meet her daughter’s ever increasing expectations. Four stars.

There follows three or four short stories, a couple of which are rather good, though not exceptional. All in all, a good sampling on writing from one of the most renowned writers of the period. ( )
  santhony | Feb 25, 2013 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 037541438X, Hardcover)

(Book Jacket Status: Jacketed)These three classics from the master of the noir novel, along with five otherwise unavailable short stories, are electric with the taut narrative voice, the suspense, and the explosive violence and eroticism that were James M. Cain’s indelible hallmarks.The Postman Always Rings Twice, Cain’s first novel–the subject of an obscenity trial in Boston, the inspiration for Camus’s The Stranger–is the fever-pitched tale of a drifter who stumbles into a job, into an erotic obsession, and into a murder. Double Indemnity–which followed Postman so quickly, Cain’s readers hardly had a chance to catch their breath–is a tersely narrated story of blind passion, duplicity, and, of course, murder. Mildred Pierce, a work of acute psychological observation and devastating emotional violence, is the tale of a woman with a taste for shiftless men and an unreasoned devotion to her monstrous daughter. All three novels were immortalized in classic Hollywood films. Also included here are five masterful stories–“Pastorale,” “The Baby in the Icebox,” “Dead Man,” “Brush Fire,” “The Girl in the Storm”–that have been out of print for decades.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:11:19 -0400)

Contains three novels and five short stories by American author James M. Cain, including "The Postman Always Rings Twice" about a drifter who embarks on a course of destruction when he falls for the wife of Nick, the genial owner of a roadside cafe.

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