Wednesday, May 12, 2010
The Postman Always Rings Twice by James M. Cain
Written in 1934 this short classic novel garnered lots of publicity for its mixture of sexuality and violence. The book was banned in Boston when it was originally published. Today, this book reads like a standard crime novel, fast paced, original and creative.
The expression "The Postman Always Rings Twice" is a metaphor that refers to the protagonist. The reader must infer that Frank may get away with the crime at first but fate keeps coming until you pay for what you have done. At least that's what I think it means. Just so you know, there is not a postman in the story and the titled expression is not used once.
This book is a type of story labeled Roman Noir. In other words, Roman Noir means English Gothic novel or detective novel and is also called Hard-boiled fiction. Basically these terms refer to the crime novels and authors who published in the decades of the 1920's and 30's. James M. Cain falls into this category.
The movie version, which I have not seen, stars Lana Turner and James Garfield. I am not sure if I will see it. Crime novels and movies about murder cause me to lose sleep at night but maybe since the film is a few decades old it will be OK. Hmmm, I will see if my library owns a copy.
The Postman Always Rings Twice is a book on the list: 1001 books to read before you die. It deserves a spot in the list mainly because of the controversy it caused when released as a Roman Noir novel. I love reading and learning about cultural history and this book was a pop classic of its time.