This had such a cinematic feel, it was as if I weren’t reading, but rather viewing this absorbing tale. As if I could hear some bits of music, smell the trail of someone’s cigarette smoke, smell the cooking aromas… Mr. Cain most certainly has the knack for delivering vicarious thrills to his reader.
A drifter sits down in a California diner and the owner, known as the Greek, takes him on as an employee, unaware of the stranger’s questionable past. The Greek’s unhappy wife is quick to entice the new arrival and they devise what they believe to be a fool proof plan.
The narrator, Frank Chambers suffers from wanderlust and while he seems intrigued with the Greek’s wife, he never seems content unless he is roaming or planning to travel somewhere. A simple, yet tough man, he enjoys each moment and expects things will eventually fall apart, and they most certainly do. Frank is the type of character you’d expect to despise, however, his honesty, although limited to self confessions, is what makes him so human and so sympathetic.
Nick Papadakis, aka the Greek, enjoys his life and seems oblivious to the dangers surrounding him. Always singing a tune and willing to travel to a show for a good time, he is the poster boy for ignorance as bliss. His innocence and penchant for a good tune make him an easily likable character.
The femme fatale, Cora, fled her Iowa roots with Hollywood stars in her eyes. Those hopes were dashed when it was discovered that her voice was not a fit for film and she settled into a loveless marriage rather than return to her home town defeated. Enter a young and handsome vagabond and her prayers seem to have been answered. Sexual sparks ignite and she and Frank plan their way out. Not a very nice gal, but let’s just say fate, kismet, comeuppance, what have you, rears its ugly head upon her.
Mr. Cain would be an enthralling dinner companion. Perhaps we could enjoy an opera and then eat a light dinner where I’d ask about his early years as a journalist. I’d try to persuade him to share some tips on his writing skills or rehash his version of the failed American Author’s Authority opposed by my highly regarded author, James T. Farrell.
My rating for The Postman Always Rings Twice is a 9 out of 10.
To see the entire list, visit Modern Library’s 100 Best Novels.
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