Tuesday, July 7, 2015

THE BUTTERFLY by James M. Cain

This one is a peculiar piece of backwoods incest and hillbilly soap opera written by the godfather of
noir, James M. Cain. It's been a long time since Jess Tyler's two-timing wife left him, taking their two young daughters with her. Since then he's been spending most of his time alone on his farm. All that changes when 19-year-old Kady shows up on his doorstep, he realizes she's his daughter and takes her in to live with him. And against all of Jess's Christian upbringing, not only do they start making moonshine up in the caves behind his house, but they also start making illicit love back there too (eeek!), which sends him into a tizzy and leads to destruction. 

Although I kept reading because it was Cain and I wanted to see how crazy it would get, the writing in this one felt awkward and dated, and everything about the book seemed a bit rushed, as if Cain wrote it as an assignment and was in a hurry to finish it. It was released shortly after the three hugely successful movie adaptations of his novels, so I'd like to think that maybe he was pressured to churn out a new novel and wanted to make some dough. It also came out right around his dark divorce from his wife, so maybe it was written during rocky domestic times, or maybe he was just drunk, or maybe he just plain fucked up. Either way, the book was pretty weird.

It had a cool ending though. And I am happy I read it, just to say I did. For fans and completists of Cain only. There's even a really fascinating and lengthy preface by him in this edition!


No comments:

Post a Comment

Please be respectful