(Book Jacket Status: Jacketed)These three classics from the master of the noir novel, along with five otherwise unavailable short stories, are electric with the taut narrative voice, the suspense, and the explosive violence and eroticism that were James M. Cain’s indelible hallmarks.The Postman Always Rings Twice, Cain’s first novel–the subject of an obscenity trial in Boston, the inspiration for Camus’s The Stranger–is the fever-pitched tale of a drifter who stumbles into a job, into an erotic obsession, and into a murder. Double Indemnity–which followed Postman so quickly, Cain’s readers hardly had a chance to catch their breath–is a tersely narrated story of blind passion, duplicity, and, of course, murder. Mildred Pierce, a work of acute psychological observation and devastating emotional violence, is the tale of a woman with a taste for shiftless men and an unreasoned devotion to her monstrous daughter. All three novels were immortalized in classic Hollywood films. Also included here are five masterful stories–“Pastorale,” “The Baby in the Icebox,” “Dead Man,” “Brush Fire,” “The Girl in the Storm”–that have been out of print for decades.
About the Author
James M. Cain (1892-1977) was one of the most important authors in the history of crime fiction. Born in Maryland, he became a journalist after giving up on a childhood dream of singing opera. After two decades writing for newspapers in Baltimore, New York, and the army--and a brief stint as the managing editor of the" New Yorker"--Cain moved to Hollywood in the early 1930s. While writing for the movies, he turned to fiction, penning the novella "The Postman Always Rings Twice "(1934). This tightly wound tale of passion, murder, and greed became one of the most controversial bestsellers of its day, and remains one of the foremost examples of American noir writing. It set the tone for Cain's next few novels, including "Serenade "(1937), "Mildred Pierce "(1941), "Double Indemnity" (1943), and "The Butterfly" (1947). Several of his books became equally successful noir films, particularly the classic 1940s adaptations of "Mildred Pierce "and "Double Indemnity". Cain moved back to Maryland in 1948. Though he wrote prolifically until his death, Cain remains most famous for his early work.
Robert Polito is director of the Writing Program at the New School for Social Research in New York. He is the author of "A Reader's Guide to James Merrill's The Changing Light at Sandover" (1994), among other critical works, and a biography of novelist Jim Thompson," Savage Art" (1995).
ROBERT POLITO is the author of Savage Art, a biography of the crime novelist Jim Thompson, and of the forthcoming Detours, a study of noir culture in America.
“[James M. Cain is] a poet of the tabloid murder.” –Edmund Wilson
“Nobody has quite pulled it off the way Cain does, not Hemingway, and not even Raymond Chandler.” –Tom Wolfe
“Mr. Cain is a real writer who can construct and tell an exciting story with dazzling swiftness . . . [his] work has a fast rhythm that is art.” –Saturday Review of Literature
“Cain can get down to the primary impulses of greed and sex in fewer words than any writer we know of.” –New York Times