Trudi's Reviews > The Postman Always Rings Twice

The Postman Always Rings Twice by James M. Cain
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Stealing a man's wife, that's nothing, but stealing his car, that's larceny. ~The Postman Always Rings Twice
If Noir can be said to have a cold, black heart it’s Postman that provided the juice to electroshock it into a beating, breathing existence. It is without a doubt one of the most important crime novels of the 20th century (of any century really) and has gone on to influence entire generations of writers and filmmakers. As a debut, it shocked, titillated and disgusted, banned upon publication in Boston and in Canada. Before I even knew anything about this book, or the films that were based on it, I adored that title. To this day, it remains one of my favourites.

What Cain accomplishes in just a mere 100 pages is impressive. He finds the voice of the common man, and the dark and dangerous shortcut to greed, lust, and violence. More than anything, Cain understands how easily man is corrupted, how easily he can corrupt others, like an infection. And I use “man” here in the generic sense encompassing both genders, because when it comes to villains and black hearts, Cain is an equal opportunist.

Entire books and dissertations have been written about Cain’s women – the good, the bad, the rampant sexism, the alleged misogyny – whatever. Cain’s characters don’t bleed political correctness that's obvious – what they are is a symbol of their time and circumstances – hewed from harshness, beacons of egocentrism, proprietors of antisocialism. The women like to be smacked around a little (it helps get them in the mood), and the men are only too willing to oblige the ladies in that regard. Men aren't asking for what ought to be freely given, and should it be denied to them, why... they'll just take it anyway, won't they?

Based on all of this, Postman easily garners five stars, so why am I only giving it four? My only hesitation stems from this: I just didn’t enjoy it as much as Double Indemnity. Neither Frank nor Cora drew me in to quite the same extent that Walter and Phyllis did – the former are cold, dislikable and a bit icky, whereas the latter duo are fascinating in their terribleness and villainy. They are even sympathetic in their own messed up way … whereas Frank and Cora felt like reptiles crawling on their bellies, sniffing for a blood meal. Plus, Phyllis is simply an awe-inspiring, terrifying creation – a walking, talking sociopath before the term was even widely known. She is quiet, sexy, subtle and deranged -- I love her.

Having said that, Postman is lean and mean hard-boiled pulp fiction and you gotta respect that. It’s not shy about going for the jugular with absolutely no foreplay. But Cain doesn’t need it, requiring so little time and so few words to get the reader foaming at the mouth -- when he’s ready to go, so are you. This is a must-read, but you know that already.
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Reading Progress

02/09/2012
36.0% "C'mere schweetheart ... you knows I love ya, so let me smack you around a bit to get you in the mood. o_O"

Comments (showing 1-18 of 18) (18 new)

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message 1: by [deleted user] (new)

There you go. Postman. I'd sell everything I ever wrote (except one thing) to have written Postman.


Trudi Ah! That says so much. So what is that 'one thing'? Can you share?


message 3: by [deleted user] (new)

Other than what I'm writing at this moment, it's a novella called "Leo Rache." I'm prepping the ebook this week, if you're keen. I could never disown that, not even for Postman. Not even for Victoria or Growth of the Soil.


Trudi And that's how it should be :)

Let me know when the ebook is ready!


message 5: by Daniel (new)

Daniel Great review. Postman announces its train wreck early and then makes you watch all the fuckery go down.


Trudi LOL! yes, there is quite a bit of fuckery going on, both literal and figurative :)


message 7: by Bondama (new)

Bondama Cain's books are ALL in class by themselves... absolutely cold characters, empty lives, perfect noir.


message 8: by Stephen (new)

Stephen Great review, Trudi. This will be my next Cain to read.


Trudi It's nasty Stephen. In other words, awesome :)


message 10: by Stephen (new)

Stephen Trudi wrote: "It's nasty Stephen. In other words, awesome :)"

You read my mind. I loved that the word Fuckery came up. I just posted my review of Christopher Moore's Fool and fuckery is most definitely afoot.


message 11: by Daniel (new)

Daniel Fuckery was introduced to me in a brilliant Jesse Sykes song, "Oh My Girl."

between them trees
is all the world's fuckery


Profanity + soulful singing = huzzah


Trudi I am going to iTunes that mother immediately :)


message 13: by Daniel (new)

Daniel Trudi wrote: "I am going to iTunes that mother immediately :)"

Nice! The whole album is lovely and haunting.


message 14: by Stephen (new)

Stephen Daniel wrote: "Fuckery was introduced to me in a brilliant Jesse Sykes song, "Oh My Girl."

between them trees
is all the world's fuckery

Profanity + soulful singing = huzzah"


I'm with Trudi. That sounds too good to pass up.


Trudi Daniel wrote: "Fuckery was introduced to me in a brilliant Jesse Sykes song, "Oh My Girl."

Daniel, thanks for bringing this music to my attention. It's fantastic! Cheers.


message 16: by Daniel (new)

Daniel Trudi wrote: "Daniel wrote: "Fuckery was introduced to me in a brilliant Jesse Sykes song, "Oh My Girl."

Daniel, thanks for bringing this music to my attention. It's fantastic! Cheers."


You are so welcome! Since we started commenting on it I revisited all of her work, and I've been listening to it daily. Such good stuff.


Brandon Great review, Trudi!


Trudi Brandon wrote: "Great review, Trudi!"

Thanks Brandon!


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