RARA-AVIS: Motherless Brooklyn & James Cain

From: Frederick Zackel ( fzackel@wcnet.org)
Date: 28 Apr 2000

My January magazine review of Motherless Brooklyn is at

My take on Cain comes from his background: upper middle class Maryland Catholic family. He went Washington College at a time only the wealthy could. A soldier in WWI, then a journalist. For a time he was Managing Editor of the New Yorker. Most of what he wrote seems as if the upper class goes slumming and then looks down its nose at what it sees the lower class are like. In Postman, they are all animals . . .and describe themselves as animals. They even rut like animals. (They live mired in Original Sin?) If he never saw himself as hard-boiled -- if Hammett, et. al, despised him -- maybe it was because he never shared the same values of the hard-boiled POV, and they recognized his "rich kid slumming in mud" attitude.

Frederick Zackel

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