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James M. Cain

Hard-Boiled Mythmaker

David Madden and Kristopher Mecholsky - Contributions by Edgar

James M. Cain wrote some of the grittiest novels in American literature, including such classics as The Postman Always Rings Twice, Double Indemnity, and Mildred Pierce. James M. Cain: Hard-Boiled Mythmaker is a critical overview of the author's life, work, and legacy. An updated and expanded edition of two of David Madden's scholarly works on Cain, this new book improves upon the previous works by collecting the most essential writing on Cain by Madden into one volume. In addition to melding existing material, this work contains updated and new material, including fresh commentaries on later books, such as Rainbow's End, Cloud Nine, and The Enchanted Isle, as well as later film adaptations, including Butterfly. It also responds to 40 years' worth of criticism on Cain and reevaluates his influence.

Providing an overview of all of Cain's fiction, including an analysis of the major themes of his entire literary career, the book also describes Cain's impact on and importance in 20th-century culture, film in particular. In addition to a biographical summary and thematic outline of Cain's nearly 50-year career, Madden and Mecholsky examine how Cain's works explore the nightmare consequences of the persistent American dream. Finally, Madden and Mecholsky consider Cain's technical innovations of the novel and survey the major film adaptations of Cain's novels.

With its significant in-depth analysis and a foreword by Edgar-award winning author Max Allan Collins, this volume will be of interest to Cain scholars as well as anyone interested in 20th century American literature and film.
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Scarecrow Press
Pages: 240Size: 6 1/2 x 9 1/2
978-0-8108-8118-1 • Hardback • April 2011 • $57.00 • (£39.95)
978-0-8108-8119-8 • eBook • April 2011 • $54.00 • (£37.95)
David Madden is a novelist, poet, and the author of several books of criticism, including Revising Fiction and A Primer of the Novel (Scarecrow, 2006). His novels include the Pulitzer-prize nominee The Suicide's Wife (1978), Sharpshooter (1996), and Abducted by Circumstance (2010).

Kristopher Mecholsky is pursuing his doctorate in English at Louisiana State University.
Madden, a leading scholar and novelist (The Suicide's Wife), with the help of Mecholsky, melds together two previously published critical works on the late novelist James M. Cain, whose seminal style helped define noir. Rife with comparisons to literary contemporaries Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett, this book deeply analyzes intricacies of individual plots as well as the formulaic approach Cain used in creating his realist storylines and ruthless characters. A study on form and technique demonstrates Cain's ability to balance existentialism with compact prose in crafting the "pure" novel. Camus was understandably a fan, while Cain's narrative technique has influenced cinema from European neo-noir to perhaps most notably the Coen Brothers. In revealing psychoanalytical aspects ingrained in the novels, their very nature is astutely addressed. Prevalence of the American Dream draws parallels with Nietzsche as power struggles permeate Cain's rhythmic prose. Where Madden and Mecholsky together explore sexual conflict, a decidedly Freudian contrast emerges. This successful collaboration has produced a fascinating new study of an arguably under-appreciated American author.
Publishers Weekly

This expanded edition actually takes the good stuff from two of Madden's earlier volumes on Cain and combines them. He also has added some new information, including recent material on Cain's later books such as Rainbow's End, Cloud Nine, and The Enchanted Isle. A new adaptation of Mildred Pierce recently debuting on HBO proves there is still much interest in his work, and The Postman Always Rings Twice and Double Indemnity continue to thrill in print and on screen. This scholarly analysis of Cain is more for the academics.
Library Journal