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The Baby in the Icebox: And Other Short Fiction Paperback – July 3, 1984


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 220 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; New edition edition (July 3, 1984)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140070559
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140070552
  • Product Dimensions: 7.1 x 4.3 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,199,675 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Alfred Johnson on September 16, 2008
Format: Paperback
I have reviewed James M. Cain's two major works The Postman Always Rings Twice and Double Indemnity elsewhere in this space. He is justly famous for those little literary potboilers. Not as well known, although they should be, are his short stories that are of the same caliber with the same kind of plot exploration and with quirkily little endings, a la O. Henry. The definitive example of this little collection is the title work-Baby In The Icebox. Here we have the inevitable California male drifter of indeterminate morals, the adulterous housewife of vague if intense longings, the seemingly inevitable symbolically meaningful wild cats that populate many of Cain's works and the intense, almost too intense, sexual stirrings that make the term potboiler very apt. The other stories follow with their own little twists. And hovering just below the surface is a literary examination of class, race and sex in 1930's America that seldom gets this kind of inspection not matter what period we are in. These will keep you glued to the page, read them.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By K. Swanson TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on March 5, 2010
Format: Paperback
Cain is justly famous for his three classic novels (Postman, Pierce, and Indemnity), but deserves more praise than he usually gets as a short story writer. These tales feature much of what makes his longer works excellent: sharp psychological portraits, lust and revenge hovering over all, a vivid sense of 1930s Southern California, and an endlessly wry narrator's take on everything. But these stories pare it all to the bone, and in most cases that makes Cain's taut, sinewy prose even more concise.

The brief intros by Hoopes are interesting and a nice addition, but I'd recommend reading the stories first, then trying the intros to avoid any spoilers.

The highlight among these tales, Baby packs a lot of wallop into a very few pages. The characters emerge quickly and distinctly and the cat subplot dovetails perfectly and provides a satisfying conclusion. There is always a sense of justice in Cain's works, and here it's particularly pleasant.

Joy Ride and Embezzler are two other fine works in this collection, but each of the stories is worth reading. They might not all be perfect, but they're all pure Cain, and that's as good as this genre ever got, Hammett and Chandler included.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By danielx on April 28, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This volume includes some real gems, including "The Baby in the Ice Box" itself, a work which (like "Postman...") expresses Cain's lifelong interest in jungle cats (sneak preview: the baby in the story survives, which is more than can be said of another character). Another is "The Birthday Party", a touchingly sad coming - of - age story that shows how far beyond the noir genre Cain's talents extended. Various other worthy stories are included, although some are mainly of historical interest.

Of particular value to fans of Cain's work are the biographical / historical essays included herein; they were written by Roy Hoopes, who edited this volume and who published a full biography of Cain in 1982. I have learned a lot about Cain from this work, and gained a deeper appreciation for his career as a writer.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Aaron C. Brown TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on August 19, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
I am not a great James M. Cain fan. I love the three big movies made from his work Mildred Pierce, Double Indemnity and The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946) (or pretty good but not great the 1981 version of Postman), but most of the quality is due to the screenwriters, directors and actors. Moreover, all three are dated, they are great as much for what they say about their eras as for the characters, plot or drama. None can be updated successfully. A timeless variant, every bit as good as those three, is The Man Who Wasn't There, which is in part a homage to Cain's movies but not to his books.

Anyway, the books are more dated and less interesting than the movies. Much of their success was due to shock value at the time of publication, something that will not impress modern readers, especially when compared to noir masters. The lesser movies based on Cain's work, and Cain's unsuccessful direct screenwriting, are forgettable or worse. His signature twist, that the criminals get away with it but are so wracked by guilt they confess or kill themselves, would need a better writer to carry off (fortunately, movie production codes forbade putting this in the film versions).
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By JENNIFER SPERRY on March 24, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Written when James M Cain was finding his voice, fascinating to see the progression. His opening line from The Postman Always Rings Twice, "They threw me off the hay truck about noon," is often taught in writing class and is cited as one of the great opening lines in pulp fiction. This book shows how he got there.
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