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Serenade Paperback – June 1, 2011


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Phoenix; Reprint edition (June 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1780220200
  • ISBN-13: 978-1780220208
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.7 x 7.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.5 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,231,105 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

the story builds to a stunning and complex climax ... how brilliant that a new generation has the chance to discover this compelling writer. -- Joanna Hines GUARDIAN

About the Author

James M. Cain was born in Annapolis, Maryland, in 1892. Having served in the US Army in World War 1, he became a journalist in Baltimore and New York in the 1920's. He later worked as a screenwriter in Hollywood. Cain died in 1977.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 29, 2001
Format: Hardcover
If not in the top 10, certainly among the top 100 best books I have ever read. Absolutely stunning images, an entirely unique plot, and a whole new meaning to the song "Cielito lindo."
"Postman" was OK, but I think "Serenade" was Cain's masterpiece. It compares favorably with Charles Willeford's "The Way We Die Now", which is high praise indeed.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Chris Ward VINE VOICE on December 19, 2005
Format: Paperback
Everyone should read three James M. Cains: "The Postman Always Rings Twice," "Double Indemnity," and "Serenade." His writing reached its peak with these three. The first two are hard-boiled and terse and nasty, and they move like bullets to their sordid ends. But "Serenade" is almost lyrically operatic, in keeping with the soap opera that is the protagonist's love life. This tremendously forward-looking and unpredictable (and brief and economical) book melds a number of Cain's loves into a tapestry of nearly ludicrous proportions. Read it! You won't be disappointed.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By firebird@computer-partner.de on January 22, 1998
Format: Mass Market Paperback
One of the greatest love stories ever written, in my mind. Full of aggression, cynicism, pace but also of passion. His picture of pre-War Mexico is magical, if somewhat seedy. It is a tragedy that it is out of print - the Postman Always Rings Twice shadowed this more sophisticated, but just as readable novel, due to the Film.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Michael G. VINE VOICE on April 10, 2010
Format: Paperback
Serenade by James M. Cain, the story of an opera singer, has an ambitious, over-the-top plot. A plot which, quite befittingly, could be turned into a pretty good modern day opera.
As the novel opens, John Howard Sharp, once the toast of Europe because of his magnificent operatic voice, is now penniless in Mexico. He meets and falls in love with an illiterate prostitute who turns his life around. Together, they enter the United States, where Sharp's singing ability again brings him fame and wealth. But, Sharp carries the seed of tragedy within him and by novel's end tragedy is in full bloom.
Had Serenade been written in today's world, it would correctly be criticized as homophobic and racist (toward Mexicans). But, when first published in 1937, it must have been described as risque and avant garde. This is a bold, full speed ahead example of fiction writing. Despite its over-the-top storyline, Serenade is well worth reading.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By J. Rodeck on October 6, 2010
Format: Paperback
Fantastic evocation of down and out-er in Mexico; but the plot becomes so unbelieveable insofar as a hobo miraculously becomes a Hollywood star only to scorn a 3 movie contract for stupid reasons. Cain tries too hard maybe to blend Chandler and Hemingway. This also shows the limitations of 1st person narration. Eventually, I couldn't stand the "Then I did this. . . Then I did that" so many times on the same page. Runs around too much to get to a fairly predictable ending.
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Format: Paperback
Ole!! You have to think of this book with its absurd plot as a comedy. Otherwise, well, it is the male equivalent of the lesbian psychopath. An opera singer, who had a fling with a man and, though once a great singer, due to this fling, lost the passion in his voice and wound up dead broke in Mexico--broke and straight, thank God!, falls in love with an Indian prostitute. Their love restores his manliness and his manliness restores his voice so that one night, after they've escaped back to the states, when they're at the Hollywood Bowl, the lead singer cannot perform and he goes on in his place. He becomes a famous singer, which brings him back to New York and to the man with whom he'd had his fling. The prostitute and the fling man hate each other but I won't give anything away. Cain's problem, except in Double Indemnity, Mildred Pierce, and The Postman Always Rings Twice (What a title!), is his inability to create a believable plot. That said, I've read Serenade a number of times and though I hate the gay part, I find the characters interesting and can visualize Fred MacMurray as the lead and Bette Davis (as she appeared in Beyond the Forest, fright wig and all), as his Indian paramour. Clifton Webb could play the flinger or maybe Judith Anderson in drag.
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