Erin W's Reviews > The Postman Always Rings Twice, Double Indemnity, Mildred Pierce and Selected Stories

The Postman Always Rings Twice, Double Indemnity, Mildred Pie... by James M. Cain
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Jan 25, 13

bookshelves: fiction, on-my-shelves, 2011, book-club, 2013, american-lit-challenge
Read in January, 2013

Read April-May 2011: The Postman Always Rings Twice & Double Indemnity

Even though I love noir movies, I've read very little of the pulp fiction from which those movies drew their inspiration. They vary widely in quality, like all genres of fiction, but Cain is one of the masters here. The two novellas that I read (both are contained, along with his novel Mildred Pierce and a handful of short stories, in a lovely Library of America edition) are dirty fun. The characters are written a bit flat--deliberately, laconic, mysterious, sometimes immoral without motivation. If that sounds a bit revolting to you, then you are totally not the market for this work. If you want to revel amongst criminals and sex maniacs, 1930s style, this is a great place to start. There is something especially American about Cain's crime stories that I like; something borne out of two poles of the Great Depression and the American Dream.

The Postman Always Rings Twice is about a drifter who gets seduced by a housewife into murdering her husband for his money. Double Indemnity is about a straight-laced insurance man who also gets seduced by a housewife into murdering her husband for the money. Beyond that, the actual circumstances of the two stories are quite different--both how the murders are executed, how the murderers fare, whether any of it all works out for them. Neither story has really got a redeemable character--maybe the insurance man--but I find a lot of entertainment value in seeing characters make morally corrupt choices and suffer (or not suffer) the consequences.
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Reading Progress

01/09/2013 page 220
34.0%
01/09/2013 page 220
34.0% "Just started Mildred Pierce, which is a part of this collection."
01/10/2013 page 244
38.0% ""Grass widow! From now on, you're fast." This book is gonna break my heart, isn't it?"
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