The first was James M. Cain's The Postman Always Rings Twice (1934). Despite Cain's multitude of successful conversions from print to screen, he's never enjoyed the household recognition of a Chandler or a Hammet. There's a sort of cosmic irony that Chandler, who was largely a washout working as a Hollywood screenwriter, had his greatest success adapting Postman for the screen when he despised Cain's writing. (The book would be adapted again for the screen in 1981 by no less than David Mamet.) Chandler described writers like Cain as, "Such people are the offal of literature, not because they write about dirty things, but because they do it in a dirty way."
|I was astounded by the total lack of Postmen in this book.|
My second book had very little about it that felt all too familiar.
Horace McCoy, a contemporary of Cain's, also ended up working as a screenwriter after failing to make it as an actor and holding a string of different jobs living in Los Angeles. One of those jobs, a bouncer at the Santa Monica Pier, led to his writing the surreal and despondent They Shoot Horses, Don't They? (1935).
|The "startling affair" must be in another book that I didn't read...|