Thursday, May 27, 2010

Book Review: James M. Cain, Serenade (1937)

The following review contains spoilers . . . if you do not want to know the general contours of
Serenade's plot, read no further . . . Opera singer John Howard Sharp is a self-loathing homosexual who wants to believe he is like any other man. At one point he protests that all men are 5% gay but that most men are fortunate enough not to meet that special someone who triggers that 5%. Unfortunately for John, he has met that special someone, and it turns out that homosexual activity has the little-known side effect of ruining a man's ability to sing. Therefore, John takes drastic measures, raping his way back into the world of heterosexuality and thereby reclaiming his singing voice. When his rape victim falls in love with him, all seems right with his world, until his gay ex-lover turns out to be an effete but vengeful predator. A regrettable novel in many ways . . . worth reading only as a period piece. Grade: D+


  1. Sad. A case of a pseudo reviewer who shouldn't be a reviewer. Cain's completely beyond him. Talk about a regrettable read. Better to go to a legitimate book reviewer. Cain always comes away with high marks a s a noir writer -- as he should.

  2. Your argument seems rather circular: I should praise Serenade because Cain always comes away with high marks? But what if the novel is offensively bad?