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James M. Cain

This past Saturday was the birthday of noir master James M. Cain, author of The Postman Always Rings Twice, Double Indemnity, Mildred Pierce, et al. J. Kingston Pierce at The Rap Sheet has a nice recap of Cain's career. Though Cain had many admirers, Raymond Chandler was clearly not one of them:

Everything he touches smells like a billygoat. He is every kind of writer I detest, a faux naïf, a Proust in greasy overalls, a dirty little boy with a piece of chalk and a board fence and nobody looking. Such people are the offal of literature, not because they write about dirty things, but because they do it in a dirty way.


(Via The Publishing Spot.)

July 6, 2006 in Books | Permalink


I actually prefer Cain to most of those other noir writers. Chandler's metaphors and similes are often too labored, while Hammett's deadpan, camera-eye point-of-view seems dated now. Cain, on the other hand, was a wonderful, if underrated, stylist, and his best novels are as tight as a fist.

Posted by: John McNally at Jul 6, 2006 12:55:02 PM

Thanks for the nod, Pete! I'm glad you ran that whole quote, it was the funniest thing I read all day.

John--you're right about Cain, you feel like you're reading an Elmore Leonard book, the prose is so smooth! Don't forget to check out Serenade...

Posted by: Jason Boog at Jul 6, 2006 3:24:53 PM