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The Postman Always Rings Twice Paperback – May 14, 1989
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Frank Chambers, a drifter, is dropped from the back of a truck at a rundown rural diner. When he spots Cora, the owner's wife, he instantly decides to stay. The sexy young woman, married to Nick, a violent and thuggish boor, is equally attracted to the younger man and sees him as her way out of her hopeless, boring life. They begin a clandestine affair and plot to kill Nick, beginning their own journey toward destruction.
Horace McCoy, David Goodis, Jim Thompson, and the other notable noir writers never achieved Cain's spare brilliance. Virtually all of his major works have been filmed, though several Hollywood studios refused to make the films, directors refused to be involved, and actors turned down roles because of their repugnance at the lack of morality inherent in all Cain's characters. Reading him may not be fit for a Sunday school class, but once you begin you will be unable to resist continuing, like picking at a painful scab or watching a tarantula inside a glass dome. --Otto Penzler --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
"A poet of the tabloid murder." --Edmund Wilson
Top Customer Reviews
At any rate, the title finally chosen is somewhat magical as is the novel itself, the first of Cain's hard-boiled, loser tales that somehow caught the imagination and psyche of depression America. Re-reading the novel today one wonders why, but then again, I can see why.
First there's the raw sex with Frank forcing himself onto Cora, biting her lip, etc. and she loving it, that was somewhat shocking for its time. Ditto for the spontaneous sex they have in the dirt outside the car after Frank has beamed Nick. Then there is the fascination we have with stupid people doing vile deeds rather clumsily (with whom we might identify). But more than anything else it's the style.Read more ›
And Cain was the master of the plot. Not in the sense of trying to tease us with the "whodunit" like the great British talespinners; Cain's books are not mysteries in the true sense of the word, because we usually know almost from the outset Who Done It. But Cain will keep you on the edge of your seat following the incredible turns of fate that his characters experience. And perhaps that's the key to Cain, not only in this book but in all of his others: the real major character is an unfriendly fate, which sooner or later destroys the protagonists. Cain's stories are ugly - his characters are all either ugly and stupid or ugly and clever - and perhaps this is the ugliest story he ever wrote.
Hollywood was always both fascinated and repulsed by Cain; Warner Brothers made "Double Indemnity" into a movie, but only after they turned it over to Rayond Chandler to do the screenplay and "sanitize" it (Billy Wilder got screenplay credits along with Chandler, but the book was Cain's; it's more than worth a read too). "Postman" has been made into a movie twice, and while both versions are admirable each in their own way, neither one of them manages to express the utter futility of life, and the sense of just how amoral the average man can be in the right situation, that are the hallmarks of Cain's work.Read more ›
Synopsis: A drifter stumbles into a L. A. area diner to find a hottie who thinks the world will open for her with her husband dead. Complications ensue.
The writing is simple and straightforward, in the first person past, very colloquial (for the early 1930s). The story is simple and straightforward, but there is a lot of space for the reader to explore. There is an awful lot going on between Frank and Cora that goes unsaid, and it's up to you to figure out which way it might go, before it very quickly does. It's two shallow, selfish, impulsive and not-that-bright people coming up with plans that fit themselves perfectly, and it doesn't go well.
Frank is a fast mover, itinerant and restless, and Cora has dreams and designs of success and contentment unburdened by thoughts of preparation or achievement. Both are after something better, although neither knows what that might look like. Their collision is hot stuff, right from the eighth page. The novel was tried for obscenity in Boston but that was more than 80 years ago, and by today's standards this is all relatively tame, prime-time content, both the sex and the violence (there are some fun, saucy plays on the word "hard"). This book is suitable for high schoolers, and is the seminal example of American noir writing.
Reading through this, I couldn't help but think of Blood Simple]. Move this novel to Texas, and you've got almost the same thing. Mix sex, money and murder and trust goes out the window.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
One of the worst books I've read. I had to read somethings a few times to understand what was going on.Published 7 days ago by Laura Messom
I certainly enjoyed this book without being bowled over by it. It's a hard boiled pulp noir book with plenty of action that hits the spot if you're after a quick read. Read morePublished 1 month ago by James Montgomery
I give this just three stars because even though, yes, I expected it to be "pulpy", it's so pulpy it's a tad shallow. Read morePublished 2 months ago by D. Lee
Quick read ( I finished it in a couple of hours)but I felt as if I were reading a screenplay or old movie script. Some good themes. I can see why Camus liked it.Published 2 months ago by SARINHA63
Noir novel at its finest. The plot was very fast-paced which I really like. Although the book was slightly disturbing, I found it very entertaining and compelling. Read morePublished 3 months ago by CJames
This seems like the prototype of American crime/noir novels. At just about 100 pages, it's quite short. Read morePublished 3 months ago by A. Diamond
This is classic pulp fiction from the 1930s. I read it to compare the novel to the film noir movie starring Lana Turner and James Garfield. Read morePublished 3 months ago by D. Anderson
Gritty, superb storytelling. I read Double Indemnity first, which is slicker with its stone-cold femme fatale. Read morePublished 4 months ago by AKP