Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The Postman Always Rings Twice by James M. Cain - Book Review #93

Tuesday, October 5, 2010
The Postman Always Rings Twice
by James M. Cain

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.
From goodreads.com

James M. Cain with his novel The Postman Always Rings Twice was a pioneer in the noir fiction genre; so I decided that the most appropriate way to introduce myself to the whole genre, I never read anything from, would be to read the book that started the genre itself. I have to confess my introduction went better than I expected.

The Postman Always Rings Twice is a very small novel, just a bit bigger than novella, hundred something pages long. I was always much more impressed by the authors who are known for their short stories or novellas. Somehow it always seems to me that to write a good short story takes much more than to write a series of ten novels. In a very limited space, short story’s author has to introduce the reader to the world, to the characters, show the characters’ development and don’t forget about the plot that brings this all together. Not many writers can create good short stories and novellas, like not many authors can produce a worthwhile poetry. I usually more suspicious to short books rather to huge heavy volumes, I’m uncertain that short books can deliver. No, don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting that it is more certain that book would be good if it is a bigger size. I just think it is easier to spoil short one than the longer one.

I read it in one sitting. It was marvelous. The atmosphere of fatality James M. Cain created with an undying, driving sense of suspense, even though the story is told from one of the murderer’s point of view. These completely immoral at the same time surprisingly likable characters, for whom their own suitability is a reason enough for murder and I was cheering for them all the way through. (Does this make me a bad person or does it make James M. Cain a genius for writing such characters?) I especially loved the interrogation scene in the hospital. It was brilliantly written, radiating such energy, anger, scare, panic and power. I also completely in love with the title and the meaning it represent – how the first ring of postman (God, the higher power, whatever else you like to call it)obviously didn’t reach Frank and Cora, however the second definitely got them. And the fatality itself in the title is genius as well – The Postman ALWAYS Rings Twice – you cannot miss the fist call and consider yourself save, you will always get the second.

So to summarize, I found The Postman Always Rings Twice brilliant, touching, disturbing, moving, sad and hilarious at the same time. This book does really contain all of that an even more.


Post a Comment