Today’s Guest: Charles Ardai, editor, The Cocktail Waitress by James M. Cain
Mr. Media is recorded live before a studio audience of bar and restaurant employees who think they’ll be drinking for half-price after today’s show… in the NEW new media capital of the world… St. Petersburg, Florida!
Did I see the steamy remake of The Postman Always Rings Twice, with Jack Nicholson and Jessica Lange, before I found the ancient paperback versions of Double Indemnity and Mildred Pierce at the old Book Swap in Milltown, New Jersey?
Or was it the other way around?
CHARLES ARDAI podcast excerpt: “I started with rare book collectors, book dealers, editor. I went to the Cain estate and asked if they knew about this book, The Cocktail Waitress… We knew the book existed but nobody had a copy. We spent years trying to track it down.”
Either way, the teenage me was astonished by the twisted humanity found in the work of James M. Cain. (And the Postman scene on the kitchen table with Nicholson and Lange still blows my mind today.)
And whether it was experienced in yellowed print or up on the silver screen, Cain’s work was always recognizable.
Well, 35 years after Cain’s death, his final manuscript – his lost novel, as it is being touted – turned up. The Cocktail Waitress was a story Cain kicked around for several years, changing, tinkering… never quite satisfied with it.
Enter Charles Ardai, editor of the Hard Case Crime publishing imprint. Ardai took Cain’s multiple drafts and notes and made the best book he could of it. It’s not perfect, but it’s an unexpected taste of Cain that any fan of the writer will find hard to resist.
Ardai is here to talk about Cain, his Cocktail Waitress and the rising Hard Case Crime line itself.