Re: RARA-AVIS: _Mildred Pierce_

From: Etienne Borgers (
Date: 11 Jul 2003

JM Cain is an author difficult to grab as a whole: besides his best known novels, which are his best works in fact (Postman, Indemnity, Butterfly, Mildred Pierce and Serenade- and I will add Galatea, another very disturbing picture of a woman), he produced a lot of novels showing no particular innovation and of very low interest. In his best novels, fate plays always a tremendous role, often destroying the evil plots of the main character(s), and in a certain way there is always a tragedy that develops along the main story. So, I think yes, even Mildred Pierce could be placed under the noir flag... On the other hand, I read it a long time ago, so I cannot go in factual
*details* of the plot to document any point of view further. And yes, Cain could be prolix and this made some of his bad novels even worse... Cain's biblio. is also rather prolific.

One thing to remember is the very high opinion JM Cain had of himself as a writer, that made him to declare silly things as " ... my novels are not tough and do not belong to any school of writing..." to defend himself to be placed next to the other great Americans founders of noir and hard-boiled. But he was unquestionably one of the great noir authors, one of the founders of the American noir lit., willing or not, just because of his handful of best novels.

E.Borgers Hard-Boiled Mysteries

At 12:16 11-07-03 -0400, Jay Gertzman wrote:
>I am going to lead a discussion soon at the local B&N of Cain's
>_Mildred Pierce_. I am not sure it fits into the noir tradition, in that
>there is no crime committed. And the darn thing is prolix. However, it
>is certainly hard boiled, and the motivations of both Mildred and Veda
>are fascinating. They seems to be the only characters with power and
>control, except for Mildred's mentor and friend Mrs. Gessler. It seems
>to me the Depression is a powerful force in the book, and that Mildred
>especially gets the desperation to succeed financially from it. Yet is
>it more responsible for what Mildred does than is Veda, and is Mildred
>responsible for Veda's feelings for her? Is Veda a monster or is she
>also a victim of fate, i.e., the Depression? I'd appreciate any ideas.

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