cover image Career in C Major and Other Fiction

Career in C Major and Other Fiction

James M. Cain. McGraw-Hill Companies, $17.95 (287pp) ISBN 978-0-07-009593-9

Cain (18921977) is best known for The Postman Always Rings Twice, Double Indemnity and Mildred Pierce, in which lower-class characters suffer answered prayers. After years of writing highly colored features and stories for various journals, Cain became a star with Postman in 1934. He disliked the ""hard-boiled'' label and his authorized biographer Hoopes subtitles his introduction ``Was the `Tough Guy' Really a Humorist at Heart?'' On the basis of these previously uncollected pieces, the reader can give only a qualified assent. The ``dialogues,'' satires about state and local government which he wrote for the American Mercury, have a bitter edge, and the ``light fiction'' pieces, mainly about Hollywood, are slight indeed. The title novella, about a contractor who becomes an opera singer, is rather funny but segues into a sentimental ending that rings false. Cain does show a deep interest in and knowledge of music, proving that he wasn't completely a tough guy. 12,500 first printing. (June 23)