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The Postman Always Rings Twice, Double…

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

by James M. Cain

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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
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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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 |
The Postman Always Rings Twice (2013):

James M. Cain assaults the page with the rat-a-tat rhythm of a machine gun in The Postman Always Rings Twice, exposing the weakness and corruptibility of the human soul with each new burst.

After getting thrown off a hay truck, Frank Chambers drifts into a roadside diner owned by the Greek. Frank hires on at the joint after taking one look at the owner’s wife, Cora, a molten bundle of ambition and sex. The two indulge their passion, ripping and biting each other. They hatch a plan to kill the Greek, but it’s hard to decipher who’s playing more angles.

Hard-boiled is more than a genre for this novel; it’s more of a description, as the book is reduced into a small, pungent mouthful, careening at a break-neck pace, fueled by clipped prose and punchy dialog.

Cain is only interested in the dark side. Everyone is playing an angle. That Frank ends up ruined may indicate that the novel was meant as a cautionary or morality tale. On the other hand, Cain’s reality may have been that the whole world was pulsing toward a dark end, one story at a time.

I am more of a Spillane or Hammet fan – even in their darkness, there is still a spark.

Bottom Line: Noir at its darkest.
4 bones!!!!! ( )
3 vote blackdogbooks | Feb 21, 2013 |
This is certainly a big collection, and I have to say that perhaps reading all of the stories in one shot was not the greatest idea. It all tends to kind of blur together at points. However, I shall discuss each portion separately, and try to be fair.

The Postman Always Rings Twice - still gets 4 stars because it is really very well written, tense and suspenseful, but I do feel it kind of lags after the initial trial. However, that last line packs way more of a punch than I recalled. A-1 writing there.

Double Indemnity - Still giving it 5 stars. Probably the best Cain story, in my opinion (and not just because it's about insurance). Lots of scheming, deception and quick wits. Somewhat different from the movie version, but it works.

Mildred Pierce - Going between 3 and 3.5 stars. I wish I'd known just how LONG this story is when I first started. Because I'm used to the more economical Postman and Indemnity, I was quite unprepared for this sprawling pretty-much-almost-novel. I did find the characterization very well done and was somewhat emotionally invested in the story, but my interest ebbed and flowed, and more than once I thought with some exasperation, "When is this story going to be over already? And is anybody going to get killed yet?" I think this one deserves a reread though, considering that it is so different from Postman and Indemnity.

Selected Stories - "Pastorale"'s narrative voice didn't do a whole lot for me, but "The Baby in the Icebox" was pretty interesting. (How could it not be, with a title like that?) Good plot in that one. Didn't really think much of "Dead Man", was somewhat more receptive to "Brush Fire", and quite frankly didn't see much of a point to "The Girl in the Storm". So a bit underwhelming on the short story front, perhaps because I was on a Cain burnout, especially with the marathon that is Mildred Pierce.

In short, if you get this collection, don't read it all at once! Savour a story at a time. Read it at home with a minimum of distractions. Soak in the atmosphere and the characterization. Then rent the movie of Double Indemnity, with Barbara Stanwyck. (You could also rent Postman with Lana Turner, and Mildred Pierce with Joan Crawford, but I haven't seen those so can't give an opinion on them.) ( )
  rabbitprincess | Feb 26, 2011 |
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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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