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A review of james m cains book postman always rings twice

Mavrogordato From the Reviews: Cain can get down to primary impulses of greed and sex in fewer words than any writer we know of.

He has excorcised all the inhibitions; there is a minimum of reason, of complexity, of what we commonly call civilization, between an impulse and its gratification. Author Cain's hero is as hard as any cinema villain but he obeys cinema rules, goes sappy at the end. Mavrogordato, Times Literary Supplement Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review's biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers.

Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge and remind and warn you that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure. The Postman always Rings Twice is a fast, sultry little novel.

It is narrated by Frank Chambers, a drifter who has been locked up in quite a few states already when he winds up at Nick Papadakis'. Nick owns Twin Oaks Tavern -- "nothing but a roadside sandwich joint, like a million others in California".

Nick takes a liking to Frank, and he needs help and offers him a job.

See a Problem?

Frank isn't the kind to settle down anywhere, but Nick is a nice guy -- and then there's Cora: Except for the shape, she really wasn't any raving beauty, but she had a sulky look to her, and her lips stuck out in a way that made me want to mash them in for her. So Frank decides to stick around. Nick is a really nice guy, but Cora's not in love with him: She had come to California as an Iowa high school beauty queen, hoping to make it in pictures but recognizing quickly that she didn't stand a chance.

She's pretty hard on herself: And when I began to talk, up there on the screen, they knew me for what I was, and so did I. A cheap Des Moines trollop, that had as much chance in pictures as a monkey has.

The Postman Always Rings Twice

A monkey, anyway, can make you laugh. All I did was make you sick. She'd married Nick out of desperation, but now she can't stand it anymore. Not surprisingly, she and Frank start fooling around -- and they even hatch a plot to get rid of Nick. Their plan fails, and Frank takes off -- only to return again. Cora almost wishes he hadn't, but she can't help herself: You're smart, but you're no good. They are successful, but they also get arrested. For a while it looks pretty bad for them, but the clever lawyer Katz is called in, and manages -- through some ingenious twists and manipulations -- to get them free.

Nothing More American: On James M. Cain

It doesn't appear to cost them anything, as Katz even waives his fee for this once in a lifetime case, but in fact it costs them quite a lot: Frank wants to hit the road with Cora, but she actually starts to enjoy the roadside diner business, and starts making good money at it too. Their relationship is an angry one, and is further complicated when their past comes back to haunt them, leaving Cora with an additional hold on him: It doesn't cost me a thing to make you dance on air.

And that's what you are going to do. Throw in a puma cub and a pregnancy and life veers further in and out of control. Still, things are looking up when disaster strikes.

Frank means and does right, but it all goes wrong: Frank happens to be innocent of the last crime he's charged with but all his guilt comes back to haunt him: The jury was out five minutes. The judge said he would give me exactly the same consideration he would show any other mad dog. And so it ends. The Postman always Rings Twice roars along menacingly. The nicest figure in the book is Nick, while self-loathing Cora only briefly redeemed and the narrator without a conscience until it's too late are grim, dark figures.

The lovers don't mince words, which is refreshing and shockingand the scenes between them are all very good. There are weaknesses to the book: The puma-woman is also an odd touch -- effective, in a way, but also uncomfortably far-fetched.

But the book as a whole -- a bleary blur of menace with only faint glimmers of hope and happiness -- is more than its parts, and the faults fairly easy to overlook. Fast-paced, hard-edged, and wonderfully blunt The Postman always Rings Twice is a memorable, effective piece of very dark fiction.