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review 2016-11-23 00:36
The Postman Always Rings Twice
The Postman Always Rings Twice - James M. Cain

It’s difficult to not make a review of THE POSTMAN ALWAYS RINGS TWICE into a comparison the author’s most acclaimed noir novels, DOUBLE INDEMNITY. Both involve a couple who attempt to commit the perfect murder, both focus on how the main characters’ flaws manifest post-murder, and both have insurance fraud playing a major part of the proceedings. However, they both handle the subject matter in different fashions.

 

This “long short story,” which Penguin Random House claims was banned in Boston upon release, is story of a drifter who falls in love with a married woman who, naturally, has no interest in staying married for long. The story follows both the legal and psychological aftermath to committing murder, as depicted through the peaks and crashes of their illicit affair. The sex is explicit, the action is violent, and corruption reigns over all—Cain leaves nothing to the imagination, and the book can still shock readers to this day. The hard-boiled narrative has a raw quality to it that few authors ever manage to pull off, and makes the grit feel more like realistic than stylistic in turn.

 

Despite the interesting premise, the book doesn’t quite deliver in execution. While it’s hard to ignore Cain’s unique voice, it’s also very, very apparent that this was a first novel. It skims past some of the best plot twists and character development, while lingering too long on boring diversions and shallow introspection. History hasn’t been kind to THE POSTMAN ALWAYS RINGS TWICE either, since the story feels generic in the sea of noir fiction that developed in the eighty-two years following the book’s original publication.

 

While I’m not one to be put off by the poor representation of ladies in early 20th century man-oriented literature, the main character’s attitude towards women becomes irritating after a while. The only two ladies in the entire book seem to exist to fall for his uncharismatic attitude within five minutes or be straight up ogled by the narration. It’s especially frustrating in the terms of Cora, the femme fatale of the story. Cain would rather describe the exact size and perkiness of her breasts instead of her personality, despite having all the tools to make a dynamic character out of her. At least she had a satisfying arc in between the descriptions of her figure.

 

In the end, it’s surprisingly mediocre for such a landmark piece of roman noir. Readers would be better off with DOUBLE INDEMNITY, as it’s better written and tackles the subject matter with greater finesse.

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text 2016-11-18 21:44
Because I really needed to buy another book as I sit next to a stack of 15+ unread books next to my chair...
The Postman Always Rings Twice - James M. Cain

[Book: The Postman Always Rings Twice by James M. Cain]

 

I've read two other Cain novels, Double Indemnity and Mildred Pierce. While I liked both of them, both of the film versions were far superior than the books they were based on. Since the 1946 filmed version of Postman is a highly regarded classic film noir, I'm kind of curious if Hollywood's score is going to be three-for-three.

 

Normally I would have this posted under a "0% finished" update, but BL is being super slow today. I haven't been able to add it to my shelves at all!

 

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review 2016-11-07 14:19
The Postman Always Rings Twice - James M. Cain

It was alright. I don't think i'll ever read it again. I didn't like the dialogue, but the general plot was good.

 

*Review written on November 14, 2014.*

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review 2016-04-20 22:08
Rotten Relationships...
The Postman Always Rings Twice - James M. Cain

Rotten people, rotten souls, rotten motivations and bittersweet justice.
It was good.

I have another book by the same author and I am sure I am gonna read it very soon.

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text 2016-01-30 16:34
January Reading Wrap-Up & Book-of-the-Month Selection
Puppet Graveyard - Tim Curran
Japanese Tales of Mystery & Imagination - Rampo Edogawa,James B. Harris
The Postman Always Rings Twice - James M. Cain,Stanley Tucci
Click-Clack the Rattlebag - Neil Gaiman
Three Moments of an Explosion: Stories - China MiƩville
You Shall Never Know Security - J.R. Hamantaschen
Flesh and Coin - Craig Saunders
Come: A Short Story - E. Lorn,Edward Lorn
Hell House - Richard Matheson

January was a stellar month for reading. I finished a lot of fine books this month (but didn't necessarily read every page of every one of these in January). Here's the list:

 

Puppet Graveyard, by Tim Curran - This novella is quick and nasty, with great imagery. It was leavened with humor. And, of course, it had creepy puppets. Who doesn't love creepy puppets?

 

Japanese Tales of Mystery & Imagination, by Edogawa Rampo - This was an impulse buy. I got it on the cheap from Amazon mainly because I liked the cover. While reading the introduction, I thought the book was some sort of hoax when it claimed the author's pen name was basically a phonetic spelling of the name 'Edgar Allen Poe' spoken with a Japanese accent. I immediately looked the dude up and found out that he was the real deal and very influential in Japanese mystery fiction. Sorry, Japan. I did not know. And, man, I'm sure glad I know about this author now. His story "The Human Chair," which kicks off this collection, is simply fantastic. The remainder of the tales were very good, too, surreal and mysterious. I'll be reading more from Rampo.


The Postman Always Rings Twice, James M. Cain - I listened to the audiobook version of this classic noir tale, read by Stanley Tucci. Highly recommended.


Click-Clack the Rattlebag, by Neil Gaiman - This was a short freebie I downloaded long ago. If you downloaded it from Audible, a donation went to charity. It was a pleasant enough little horror story, but Gaiman's narration is a bit too treacly for my taste. (Note: This doesn't appear to still be available from Audible.)


Three Moments of an Explosion: Stories, by China Miéville - This was an excellent collection. After reading Miéville's first collection, Looking for Jake, I thought that perhaps he just wasn't a short story guy. This one proved me wrong though. I love Miéville for his imagination, his original ideas, and the way he's able to communicate some of the craziest concepts so effectively through prose. This book won't be for everyone. Some of these stories are experimental, many are abstruse, and many more are like wonderful unresolved mysteries. 


You Shall Never Know Security, by J.R. Hamantaschen - This is the second collection I've read by Hamantaschen in two months, which should tell you something. I enjoy the author's unique voice and the unrelenting hopelessness of his tales. They are so bleak that you have to throw up your hands and surrender with bewildered and uncomfortable laughter. I think of his stuff as being a sort of cross between Sam Pink and Laird Barron.


Flesh and Coin, by Craig Saunders - I am envious of Saunders's Spartan prose. It's always efficient and often poetic. I'll be reading all his stuff. Oh, the story? Yeah, yeah, that was good, too.


Come, by E. Lorn - A vicious little piece of viscous, passive-aggressive nastiness. 


Hell House, by Richard Matheson - I've been meaning to read this one for years. I shouldn't have put it off. Was it scary? Not really. But I  didn't expect it to be. Nor did I expect it to be so fantastically lurid; I was pleasantly surprised. 

 

My pick for Book-of-the-Month? It's exceedingly hard to decide, but I'll have to go with Miéville's Three Moments of an Explosion: Stories. It wins by the sheer brute force of imagination on display. 

 

 

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