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James M. Cain
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message 1: by Jackson (new)

Jackson Burnett | 24 comments I'm adding James M. Cain here because he certainly was prolific and wrote hard-boiled/noir fiction. His novels were published from 1934 until virtually the time of his death in 1977.

A lot of readers are familiar with his California work such as Mildred Pierce, The Postman Always Rings Twice, but he also wrote fiction set in the east using the vernacular appropriate to the place. A well known example is The Butterfly.

Cain also pushed the limits, particularly for the time he was writing. There is a blog on my author's profile this week, for instance, about a shocking scene he wrote involving an iguana.

My favorite Cain books are Serenade, The Postman Always Rings Twice, and Mildred Pierce.

What are your favorites, if any, and why?

If you don't care for Cain's fiction, what are your criticisms?


message 2: by Michael, Anti-Hero (new)

Michael (knowledgelost) | 279 comments Mod
Good choice, I've loved everything I've read of his; The Postman Always Rings Twice, Double Indemnity, Mildred Pierce and The Cocktail Waitress. I really want to read more.


message 3: by Jackson (new)

Jackson Burnett | 24 comments Michael wrote: "Good choice, I've loved everything I've read of his; The Postman Always Rings Twice, Double Indemnity, Mildred Pierce and The Cocktail Waitress. I really want to read more."

How did The Cocktail Waitress compare to the others you've read? I've been curious. Some of Cain's writing is lacking, particularly some of the stuff published in the last decade of his life.


message 4: by Michael, Anti-Hero (new)

Michael (knowledgelost) | 279 comments Mod
Jackson wrote: "Michael wrote: "Good choice, I've loved everything I've read of his; The Postman Always Rings Twice, Double Indemnity, Mildred Pierce and The Cocktail Waitress. I really want to read more."

How di..."


I would rate it as similar to Mildred Pierce


message 5: by Mohammed (last edited Nov 07, 2012 10:03AM) (new)

Mohammed (Maxamed) | 533 comments I have read The Postman Rings Always Twice and Double Indemnity. The first one being brilliant written noir that had bold sexual,intense character story. His contemporaries are tame sexually compared to him.

Double Indemnity was lesser work compared to that but still very good,well done similar story.

I rate him as highly as i do the very best in the field and will slowly read more just not to run of his few books.


message 6: by Jackson (new)

Jackson Burnett | 24 comments Mohammed wrote: "I have read The Postman Rings Always Twice and Double Indemnity. The first one being brilliant written noir that had bold sexual,intense character story. His contemporaries are tame sexually compa..."
Mohammed, I agree The Postman is a better novel. Quite a few people like Double Indemnity better, though. Have you seen the movie versions of these novels?


message 7: by Jackson (new)

Jackson Burnett | 24 comments Michael wrote: "Jackson wrote: "Michael wrote: "Good choice, I've loved everything I've read of his; The Postman Always Rings Twice, Double Indemnity, Mildred Pierce and The Cocktail Waitress. I really want to rea..."
That's good. I'll mark Cocktail Waitress "to-read."


message 8: by Algernon, Hard-Boiled (new)

Algernon | 464 comments Mod
I liked Love's Lovely Counterfeit a bit better than Serenade. For The Postman and Mildred Pierce i need a re-read to see how I stand, because it's been more than 20 years since I read them (seen the movies more recently and loved them).
Next on my waiting list is The Cocktail Waitress


message 9: by Samantha (new)

Samantha Glasser | 52 comments Have there been reprints of his lesser-known works like Serenade and The Butterfly? My library only has the noirs.


message 10: by Jackson (new)

Jackson Burnett | 24 comments Samantha, Amazon has a book in paper or for the Kindle called Three by Cain. Its an anthology that includes Serenade, The Butterfly, and Love's Lovely Counterfeit. It looks like Powell's out of Portland has used copies of Serenade and The Butterfly. I've ordered from them online and have alway had good luck.

Another option might be garage and estate sales. The Butterfly was made into a movie in the 1980's that starred Pia Zadora. The book was reissued then. I used to see that edition fairly often in used book stores.

Three by Cain Serenade/Love's Lovely Counterfeit/The Butterfly by James M. Cain


message 11: by Mohammed (new)

Mohammed (Maxamed) | 533 comments Jackson wrote: "Mohammed wrote: "I have read The Postman Rings Always Twice and Double Indemnity. The first one being brilliant written noir that had bold sexual,intense character story. His contemporaries are ta..."

I have seen in another topic people rate in Double Indemnity as film when they rate the book as a fav. For me i havent seen the old film of that and i have not seen Postman films either. I wanted to read James M Cain real stories before seeing the film versions. I know the 50s Double Indemnity film is a fan fav among film noir.

Like James M Cain said, the books will always be there on the shelf to be judged on their own. I doubt any films will change how i rate the two books.


message 12: by Benjamin (new)

Benjamin Thomas (BenjaminThomas) | 8 comments I've finaly gotten around to reading The Postman Always Rings Twice. I had read The Cocktail Waitress a couple of months ago (as an ARC) and enjoyed it quite a bit. But I think Postman was a tighter story. That might be due to Waitress being completed by somebody else so not entirely Cain's work.

Now I want to see a film version of Postman. I'm thinking the Lana Turner version is the gold standard?


message 13: by Jackson (new)

Jackson Burnett | 24 comments I think that's right, Benjamin, but I've never seen the Lana Turner version. The Jessica Lange/Jack Nicholson film from the 1980's worked for me. I liked it.


message 14: by Samantha (new)

Samantha Glasser | 52 comments After reading the book, I never would have chosen Lana Turner for that part. Sure she's gorgeous, but I see the character as being the best a small town boy could get, not the best any man could get. She needs to be cheaper looking. But with that being said, I only saw part of the movie years ago so I'll have to see it again and give you my true verdict then.


message 15: by James (last edited Nov 17, 2012 08:46PM) (new)

James Newman | 21 comments Love the economy of language of James M. Cain.

But I also love the indulgence of language in Chandler. A fine line we tread. As one editor once told me it is not what you put in that makes it great it is what you take out.

An interview here. Paris Review.

http://www.theparisreview.org/intervi...


message 16: by Jackson (new)

Jackson Burnett | 24 comments James, thanks for the link to the Paris Review interview with James Cain. He tried to write in a common man's vernacular and was quite successful doing so -- kind of like two guys sitting in a bar and one is telling the other a story. Chandler's Marlowe, on the other hand, often feels himself superior to those around him and that shows up in the prose Chandler uses.

Samantha, did you see the Jessica Lange version of Postman? I agree with your comment "...the best a small town boy could get, not the best any man could get." Jessica Lange is no Ava Gardner, but she's almost too much for the story, too. She pulled it off I thought and the movie helped Jessica Lange establish herself as a serious actress.

Who would you cast among today's movie stars?


message 17: by Franky (new)

Franky | 317 comments James, thanks for that interesting link to Cain.

It's always interesting to hear a writer's inspiration for his craft of writing, and how he goes about it.


message 18: by Jackson (new)

Jackson Burnett | 24 comments Here's a link to a review of Serenade. I like the reference to the "opening of the forbidden box."

http://www.themillions.com/2011/02/ja...


message 19: by Paul (last edited Nov 23, 2014 08:42AM) (new)

Paul | 880 comments Recently acquired these eBook copies of Cain's novels. I've never heard of them before. Has anyone read any of them?

The Institute
The Magician's Wife
Jealous Woman
The Enchanted Isle
Cloud Nine
Sinful Woman
Mignon
The Root of His Evil
Past All Dishonor


message 20: by Jackson (new)

Jackson Burnett | 24 comments I've read The Enchanted Isle, Sinful Woman, and Past All Dishonor. I'm not familiar with the others. These three are relatively uninspired.


message 21: by Paul (new)

Paul | 880 comments Jackson wrote: "I've read The Enchanted Isle, Sinful Woman, and Past All Dishonor. I'm not familiar with the others. These three are relatively uninspired."

Duly noted. Thanks Jackson.


message 22: by Jackson (new)

Jackson Burnett | 24 comments Of the those three, Paul, Past All Dishonor is probably the most interesting. It follows Cain's hard boiled pattern, but it's set in Nevada during the gold rush days.


message 23: by Paul (new)

Paul | 880 comments Jackson wrote: "Of the those three, Paul, Past All Dishonor is probably the most interesting. It follows Cain's hard boiled pattern, but it's set in Nevada during the gold rush days."

Again, thanks Jackson. When you say 'uninspired' do you mean poorly written or dated?


message 24: by Jackson (new)

Jackson Burnett | 24 comments It was like he was kicking these out because he needed the money. They have a "going through the motions" vibe to them.


message 25: by Paul (last edited Nov 22, 2014 11:40AM) (new)

Paul | 880 comments Jackson wrote: "It was like he was kicking these out because he needed the money. They have a "going through the motions" vibe to them."

Ah. I sometimes wonder if writers, (today particularly), write to fulfill contractual obligations. So much for 'the noble art', eh?


message 26: by Jackson (new)

Jackson Burnett | 24 comments Cain lived a long life and wrote up until the years right before his death. Not sure why. He may have needed the money. He may have been like some of the geriatric rock'n'rollers who play state fairs and small casinos.


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