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The Postman Always Rings Twice, Double Indemnity, Mildred Pierce, and Selected Stories (Everyman's Library Classics) Hardcover – July 22, 2003

4.5 out of 5 stars 30 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“[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

From the Inside Flap

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--tried for obscenity in Boston, the inspiration for Camus's The Stranger--is the fever-pitched tale of a drifter who stumbles into a job, into an obsessional passion, 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 a blind, excessive love, 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.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 632 pages
  • Publisher: Everyman's Library (July 22, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 037541438X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375414381
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1.4 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #77,630 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Gary F. Taylor HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on July 1, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Although Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler are better known today, James M. Cain (1892-1977) is at least their equal--and many consider that he bested both in his finest novels, which combined sin-blacked characters, sordid plots, terse prose, and all the power of a blast furnace. This anthology collects all three of his landmark novels as well as several short stories, all of them showing Cain at the height of his powers.

Published in 1934, THE POSTMAN ALWAYS RINGS TWICE is the truly deadly story of a drifter who squirms his way into a job at a California truck stop--and then squirms his way into the bed of a sexy waitress. Trouble is, the waitress is married to the boss... and she doesn't like it, not one little bit. Dripping with lust, deception, and irony, POSTMAN is at once sickening and fascinating, a true powerhouse of a novel that festers long after the story has ended.
DOUBLE INDEMNITY, published in 1936, is equally hot--the tale of an insurance sales man who stays on the right side of the law until he is tempted by a psychopathic femme fatale who doesn't see anything wrong with picking up a few bucks on the unexpected death of her unwanted husband. MILDRED PIERCE, published in 1941, is equally memorable in its portrait of a driven housewife with a wayward husband who discovers that she will do absolutely anything for her vicious, serpentine daughter.

All three novels have been famously filmed, but while the film versions (most created during the 1940s) stand well on their own, the novels out distance them in nothing flat.
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James M Cain (1892 -1977) is best remembered for a series of novels he wrote while working as a screenwriter in Hollywood during the 1930s, including "The Postman Always Rings Twice", "Double Indemnity" and "Mildred Pierce". These novels were highly popular in their day and were made into several classic movies. Sometimes denigrated as "pulp" or even as "trash", these novels offer their own vision of American life and make a substantial contribution to American literature. The three novels, together with five rare Cain short stories, are available at a modest price in this hardback edition from Everyman's Library. The volume also includes an introductory essay on Cain by Robert Polito together with a chronology of Cain's life and work.

The novels are set in the Depression-era 1930s in southern California, including Los Angeles and its environs. There is feeling of place in each of these novels, particularly of cheap seedy businesses, impoverished dwellings, lonely roads and railroad tracks, poolhalls, and chop houses. The novels offer a stark view of human sexuality and lust and a dismal view of human nature as motivated by greed, jealousy, and class envy. Cain portrays a society that is philistine and always on the make. Women tend to be the stronger characters in Cain's novels. They take the initiative with their men, most often by usuing their sexuality but sometimes through ambition and effort as well. The men tend to be shiftless, unfocused and driven by their passions. Cain's writing is tough, descriptive, colloquial, and short.

The two short works in this collection, "The Postman Always Rings Twice" and "Double Indemnity" are stories of murder and violence. Both are told in a confessional style by a male narrator who is about to receive his end for his misdeeds.
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When my James M. Cain Everyman Edition of three of his novels and five short stories arrived this reviewer found himself in noir heaven! The handsome edition of some of Cain's best work includes five short stories and three of his superb novels.
They are:
The Postman Always Rings Twice-A bum named Frank falls off a hay truck and into the arms of Cora the waitress. Cora and Frank plan the murder of Nick, Cora's ignorant and ugly Greek husband. The two lovers then develop a loathing for one another. This gritty tale was filmed in 1946 starring John Garfield and the luscious Lana Turner. This is a short novella of only a little over 100 action packed pages. The book is narrated in the first person by Frank.
Double Indemnity-Walter is an insurance man who meets Phyllis. Phyllis and Walter plan to murder her husband collecting the insurance on a double indemnity policy. Walter turns against Phyllis when he learns of her murderous past but it is too late for the doomed pair. The book evokes the atmosphere of 1930s Los Angeles and is tautly written with great one liners. This book was also turned into a film classic starring Fred MacMurray as Walter, Barbara Stanwyck as the evil Phyllis and the deft directorial genius of Billy Wilder on display., A richer book than Postman. Both of these classics show us what happened when a weak man is entrapped by an evil and wily woman. Sex is dangerous in the world of Cain. The book is narrated by Walter.
Mildred Pierce-The longest of the three Cain novels was published in 1941. It concerns Mildred Pierce who begins at the bottom of the ladder as a waitress who climbs to riches as the owner of several California restaurants.
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