Cain was an uneven writer by his own testament. He was always under pressure to get his next book out and he didn't write well under pressure. Roy Hoope's biography explains a lot. Cain actually wanted to be an opera singer and his success as a novelist was a bitter pill for him... but it was better than teaching English, something else he turned his hand to. He has 4 masterworks: Postman, Double Indemnity, Serenade, & Mildred Pierce. At his best, Cain's work was compared to Hemingway's, critics often noting that, of the two, Cain was the better story teller. Cain hated this comparison. He claims to have only read The Old Man & the Sea. Cain tended to rewrite for factual accuracy and obsess on his work. This tended to bog his work down, make it late for publication, and drain the life from it. His first novel, Postman, was a huge success rocketing him to fame and putting him beside contemporaries whom he knew casually and in some cases disliked, like
Sinclair Lewis. He was eager to remain on top and he believed that hard work would keep him there. He wrote the life out of some of his best ideas by not letting them flow and not letting them go. Double Indemnity was written at white heat and almost tossed off. It was a huge success and sold to the movies which is where Cain made real money. Serenade, which some critics consider Cain's best work, was very controversial dealing with homosexuality in the arts. It did not sell well. Today it reads like prophesy. One wonders why Hollywood hasn't made a successful movie of it even now. Mildred Pierce is a character study and did not sell well. Hollywood added a murder and made a blockbuster out of it. Loves Lovely Counterfeit and Butterfly I also found very good. Neither was particularly successful when written. I recently ran into a copy of Cain's last novel, The Enchanted Isle, which is set in the counter culture of the 1960s, and I loved it. Cain said
his character driven novels never sold well. He concluded that plot driven stories were always more successful.
--- On Fri, 2/27/09, BaxDeal@aol.com <BaxDeal@aol.com> wrote:
From: BaxDeal@aol.com <BaxDeal@aol.com>
Subject: Re: RARA-AVIS: Re:RED HARVEST
Date: Friday, February 27, 2009, 6:35 PM
In a message dated 2/27/09 3:30:10 PM, jacquesdebierue@ yahoo.com writes:
> > Coincidentally, LOVE'S LOVELY is close to the top of my to-read
> stack--good timing, I guess.
> I found that one very weak, with Cain almost unrecognizable. Perhaps
> your experience will be different from mine.
I'm a huge fan of both Postman and Double Indemnity. but I recently read
JEALOUS WOMAN, which features the investigator Keyes from DI as a supporting
character. it's abysmal
what happened to the guy? I hear Mildred Pierce is good
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