I like Serenade quite a bit. I'd probably put it alongside the two classics.
I like The Butterfly too but didn't find it remotely repellent -- I was
expecting repellent and got some kind of apology instead. Which'll teach me
to have expectations.
I'm not sure when writers first started thinking of themselves as 'noir',
but I wouldn't imagine it was very long ago. I'd be very interested in
finding out when the term came to be in general use in relation to fiction,
if anyone has any information on that. Hardboiled is a different story. And
Cain's intro to The Butterfly states pretty clearly how he thought of
himself in that regard: "I belong to no school, hardboiled or otherwise, and
I believe those schools exist mainly in the imagination of critics." He goes
on to give critics ("those surrogates for God") quite a roasting for, among
other things, "pasting labels wherever convenience is served."
----- Original Message -----
From: "jacquesdebierue" <email@example.com>
> He never wrote anything as good as the two classics. He did write a
> fascinating and repellent short novel called _The Butterfly_, and Mildred
> Pierce is a wonderful potboiler (not a crime novel). I've read almost all
> his stuff and got the impression that he was very uneven. I am not sure
> that he thought of himself as a noir writer or even a crime writer.
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