About The Postman Always Rings Twice, Double Indemnity, Mildred Pierce, and Selected Stories
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.
James M. Cain was a first-rate writer of American hard-boiled crime fiction. Born in Baltimore in 1892, Cain began his career as a reporter, serving in the American Expeditionary Force in World War I and writing for the newspaper of… More about James M. Cain
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“[James M. Cain is] a poet of the tabloid murder.” –Edmund Wilson
“Nobody has quite pulled it off the way Cain does, not Hemingway, and not even Raymond Chandler.” –Tom Wolfe
“Mr. Cain is a real writer who can construct and tell an exciting story with dazzling swiftness . . . [his] work has a fast rhythm that is art.” –Saturday Review of Literature
“Cain can get down to the primary impulses of greed and sex in fewer words than any writer we know of.” –New York Times
I was recently in a room with a group of writers, and the talk turned to James M. Cain. There were, I recall, five writers there, each of us about to teach a graduate writing workshop. The four others ? perhaps only incidentally? ? all were women, a mix of novelists, biographers, essayists, and poets (some multiply accomplished). I mentioned this essay, as something I was working on. The others instantly laughed, but not as though I had made a joke, or confessed a stupid action. This was the laughter of a shared secret. Everyone in that room, it turned out, was rereading, or had just reread Cain.