The Postman Always Rings Twice, by James M. Cain

The Postman Always Rings Twice, by James M. Cain is a structurally sound tent pole of the noir genre. While it inspired an entire generation of crime writers, you’ll be shocked to know that it was met with a fair share of criticism when initially published. Due to a high volume of violence and sexuality (for its time), the book was shunned by critics and even so far as banned in Boston. Despite best efforts to keep the novel out of the hands and minds of American readers, the book’s originality and Cain’s undeniable talent ushered the novel into instant classic territory. It is now widely regarded as one of the most important crime novels of the 20th century.

Frank Chambers rolls into town with nothing more on his mind than his next meal. He finds himself in a quaint roadside diner and after jawing with the owner, he finds himself with a job. Before long, an attraction sparks between Frank and the owner’s wife, Cora. The two conspire to knock off her husband and hit the road but as one knows, the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.

Frank and Cora are made for one another; the two are about as rotten as politician’s promises. They’re blinded by desire and consumed with the idea of life on the road and it certainly doesn't do them any favors considering how likable their mark is. In the end, I guess that’s the key to really great noir fiction; you've got to make your protagonists as irredeemable as possible and ain't nothing worth saving when it comes to these two.

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  • Gregg

    also, heres an audio-cast of an interview wit gopnik on the same topic (for those who cant access t newyorker content):

    http://onpoint.wbur.org/2013/06/13/florida-noir

    May 8

    • Anne S.

      Odd that I never realized how many stories were situated in Florida and the chronology of them. I think that I tend to think of them, even as I read the article of coming out at the same time.

      May 16

  • Laura B.

    Well done for what it was.

    May 9

  • Maris

    I liked the book and the conversation.

    May 9

  • Gregg

    here's the newyorker article on contemporary florida-based crime fiction authors...

    http://www.newyorker.com/arts/critics/atlarge/2013/06/10/130610crat_atlarge_gopnik

    May 8

  • Lorraine F

    Sorry something just came up and I will not be able to join you this Thursday. I enjoyed the book

    May 4

    • Anne S.

      That is a shame. A very odd book. I also just watched the movie which seems less ominous.

      May 5

  • Maria T.

    Never read the book or saw the movie. I'll do the book first.

    April 16, 2014

  • Anne S.

    This should be interesting as this also has a movie version

    April 10, 2014

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