RARA-AVIS: Re: Mildred Pierce

From: Chris Schneider ( chrisaschneider@earthlink.net)
Date: 16 Jul 2003

> on 7/12/03 9:38 AM, Mario Taboada at matrxtech@yahoo.com wrote:
> Mildred Pierce is a potboiler, but I found it compulsively
> readable. There is so much going on, even if the characters
> don't know what they are doing. On the quality of writing:
> Cain wrote once that he loved the clich? because his
> readers did. In this novel, it shows. Comparison with Zola
> is very apt. I didn't like the movie.
           There's a good piece in the Summer 2003 issue of Bookforum on
        Cain where the author, Steve Erickson, talks about these matters.
        I especially like his opening anecdote, where Erickson refers to an
        incident from the youth of "one of the most literate magazine
        editors in the country":
           " ... he was a high school senior taking a college-entrance test
        and part of the exam was to write an essay about any great work of
        American literature. Afterward, when his English-teacher mother
        asked which novel he chose as the subject of his exegesis, he
        answered James M. Cain's *Mildred Pierce* -- and the blood ran from
        her face. 'You just failed,' she intoned. Of course she was
        correct, he did fail: He had chosen the wrong Cain. *Serenade*,
        Cain's berserk third novel published in 1937 -- now there would have
        been a subject worthy of prolonged discussion."


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