Support Shelf Notes! Purchase your copy of The Postman Always Rings Twice here:
|The Postman Always Rings Twice
James M. Cain
"They threw me off the hay truck about noon."
An amoral young tramp. A beautiful, sullen woman with an inconvenient husband. A problem that has only one grisly solution--a solution that only creates other problems that no one can ever solve. First published in 1934 and banned in Boston for its explosive mixture of violence and eroticism, The Postman Always Rings Twice is a classic of the roman noir. It established James M. Cain as a major novelist with an unsparing vision of America's bleak underside, and was acknowledged by Albert Camus as the model for The Stranger.
Can you believe I went into reading this book without ever watching any of the movies or knowing the plot line? Well, I did and you know what? I loved it. It might have been just because of that reason, I didn't know the plot. For anyone who does know the plot, you have to admit that it's pretty darn clever. You have a beautiful married woman who falls in love with a drifter who comes to work with her elderly and fat husband. The two elicit a love affair that turns into something more, plotting to get rid of the inconvenience of her marriage. What do you get when you put two terrible people together, make them fall in love and figure out ways to trust the untrustworthy? A really great story. That's what this is.
After reading the book, now I've got to see the movies (especially the 80's version that stars Jack Nicholson & Jessica Lange). Check out some photos from the movie below (the last picture is just so you can check out the young & beautiful Jessica Lange):
Just looking at those pictures makes me want to rush out and get the movies today! I would HIGHLY suggest reading this book before watching the films though. I read them unbiasedly, without certain Hollywood Actors in my mind (which is for the best in my opinion).
Back to the book, I want to mention the language James Cain uses. He wrote the character of Frank (the vagabond) as exactly the way you'd suspect. We didn't even need a description, the dialogue alone gives us a rich and colorful view of who Frank represents. The same can be said about most of the characters, especially Cora, which results in extremely well written characters that can stand out without much of a story. However, James Cain gives us that story, and... it's a really fun ride. I felt thrown back into that time period, I could even feel the gritty air surrounding them. Cora shows us the reality of a woman selecting her path in life (to marry and be secure or to be a vagabond herself and wonder where the next meal will come from). So much has changed, yet we still feel for her because the discrimination still exists today. I also fell in love with Frank, even though he's a pretty rotten scoundrel in many ways. I think it's the typical bad boy attitude that got to me. This love story, it's my kind of love story... dirty (not in the sexual way) and honest, the way real relationships depend on trust and hardships. After reading this, I want to check out some more from James Cain. At least I can be secure in knowing the characters will be brightly colored and easily pictured, which is something I truly appreciate in any Author.