Book #98: "The Postman Always Rings Twice," by James M. Cain

I swear there is some horror flick out there called “The Postman Always Rings Twice” and I thought that’s what I was getting into when I picked up this book.  Although it was not a horror flick, this book was about a man who scams a woman into murdering his husband because they are in love.  In the end, his plan backfires and they both die miserable deaths.

Frank Chambers, our “antihero” sums up the message of this book in just a few lines.  He has been put in jail for a murder that he can not fathom committing.  The jury, though, knows this man.  They know his past, they know his present and they know that he has a big fat liar:

“There’s a guy in number 7 that murdered his brother, and says he didn’t really do it, his subconcious did it.  I asked him what he meant and he says you got two selves, one that you know about and the other that you don’t know about because it’s subconcious.  It shook me up.  Did I really do it, and not know it? God Almighty, I can’t believe that! I didn’t do it.  I loved her so, then, I tell you, and I would have died for her.  To hell with subconcious.  I don’t believe it…”

To be honest, I have no idea why the book title references a postman.  There is no postman in the story and there is no well known metaphor I can think of referencing postmen ringing doorbells.  The Postman Always Rings Twice been a bad knock off of “The Green Mile” and On the Road combined. 

Of the three books I have read, two have been confusing messes.  Sure, style is important and when writing in the first person when your first person is a liar, a drunk and a cheat it could certainly difficult to check that your thoughts make sense, but I prefer a book that I don’t have to reread the pages several times because the “narrator” can’t complete a sentence.

After reading about another illogical main character who is extraordinarily flawed, and rather unlikeable, I realized that there does appear to be a trend developing on this list.  Books 100-98 have each been about confused, relentless, greedy young men who ‘get what’s coming’ to them when they can’t stop beating women, yelling at their mothers or drinking too much.  I am looking forward to moving behind this stage to more thought provoking topics.  Let’s hope book 97, The Sheltering Sky, Paul Bowles is of a more interesting nature.

Come on, let’s read!

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