Friday, September 11, 2015


"Tomorrow night, if I come back, there'll be kisses. Lovely ones, Frank. Not drunken kisses. Kisses with dreams in them. Kisses that come from life, not death."
With the one-two punch publication of both this novel and the serialized version of Double Indemnity in the mid-1930's, James M. Cain truly popularized what we know of now as being the hard-boiled sub-genre of noir in American fiction, a long time before the term was even coined. Since it's publication, this book has spawned so many copycats, and inspired so many writers and an entire genre of movies that it's story of a man falling for a femme fatale, their descent into crime, and their eventual doom is kind of a cliché at this point. But even to this day, over 80 years later, very few have been able to match the intensity of both this and Indemnity.
"Except for the shape, she really wasn't any raving beauty, but she had a sulky look to her, and her lips stuck out in a way that made me want to mash them in for her."
I initially thought that this was better than Indemnity but now on my second reading, I saw that while it's still great, and still has a stellar, superior ending, Postman pales a bit in comparison. But it's still stronger and tighter than many books in its genre and beyond. It's a little over 100 pages of high tragedy as we witness these two emotionally weak but determined characters dig themselves deeper into a hole of self-destruction and form a bond started by love and transformed into hate, a bond that they realize will never be broken, no matter how much they want out. Can anyone else think of any flawed couples like this in recent bestselling fiction? Of course you can. Yep, and it all started with The Postman Always Rings Twice. 
“I ripped all her clothes off. She twisted and turned, slow, so they would slip out from under her. Then she closed her eyes and lay back on the pillow. Her hair was falling over her shoulders in snaky curls. Her eye was all black, and her breasts weren’t drawn up and pointing up at me, but soft, and spread out in two big pink splotches. She looked like the great grandmother of every whore in the world. The devil got his money’s worth that night.”

1 comment:

  1. I reread both of these novels last year, and have to agree, POSTMAN pales a bit in comparison with INDEMNITY. Still POSTMAN is a must-read and a master-class in crime writing. "The devil got his money's worth" indeed.


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