Tentatively, Convenience's Reviews > Mildred Pierce

Mildred Pierce by James M. Cain
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really liked it
bookshelves: literature

** spoiler alert ** Ok, I'd seen "The Postman Always Rings Twice" & even referenced it in a filmstrip title of mine ("The Postman Always Rings the Homunculous of Woody Allen & Hollis Frampton Twice") & used some sampled sound from its soundtrack for the aforementioned filmstrip's sound. & I'd seen "Double Indemnity" & liked that. But I'd never wanted to read Cain b/c I always had the impression that he was a realist writer who hadn't progressed that much on 19th century European literary forms.

But then I met Chelsey Minnis Schmidt & we bonded over James Ellroy & she got me a little interested in Cain so I picked up this novel by him when I was in Boulder w/ my conversation w/ Chelsey still on my mind. The back of the bk identifies it as "FICTION/CRIME" so I wasn't sure whether there'd be a murder or not.

Probably one of the things that ultimately impressed me about it is that Cain led up to quite a few scenes where a murder or other such violent death might happen.. & it DIDN'T. Cain's manipulation was obviously that of a writer accustomed to building up to crimes of passion & the like - but here he didn't need to resort to such shallow sensationalism in order to make the drama emotionally compelling.

Interestingly, in the 1945 Hollywood version of the novel, there IS a murder - thusly providing 2 versions for the world - one in wch someone gets their probably come-uppance & one where things are a bit more subtle.

The subtle part is about class. The despicable daughter is 'classy' & utterly unscrupulous. The mother WORKS & is honest. The novel is clearly on her side & so am I. Reading this was somewhat like watching a Fassbinder movie - something like "Fox and his Friends" - an agonizing experience for me personally since I have a particular hatred for parasites. Cain's novel, however, isn't quite so heavy-handedly tortuous as Fassbinder almost always was.

Despite the daughter's successful machinations, Mildred isn't completely destroyed & one can at least imagine that her life continued post-daughter w/ some degree of happiness & success. More power to the Mildred Pierces of the world - may they be less foolish & more rewarded.

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Reading Progress

Started Reading
October 28, 2010 – Shelved
October 28, 2010 – Shelved as: literature
October 28, 2010 – Finished Reading

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message 1: by Michael (new)

Michael I've always loved the movie version, which is something of an early feminist statement; maybe now I'll make a point of checking out the book someday.

Tentatively, Convenience The bk is definitely astonishingly sympathetic to the female protagonist's dilemma & is 'way ahead of its time' in many feminist respects - I'm glad you mentioned that b/c I forgot to in my review.

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