CAIN, James M.


New York: Knopf, 1937

8vo, pp. 314. Original black boards, lettered in silver on front panel and spine. Top edge stained red, other two edges uncut. A fine copy in a very good example of the illustrated, purple variant dustwrapper, which has a 3mm lateral chip at the spine head, a slightly faded spine, and a little light chipping to top edge.

First edition of Cain's second novel, after The Postman Always Rings Twice.
The homosexual characters in noir fiction are usually found in the supporting cast, seedy bookshop proprietors and furtive informers doomed to die a horribly detailed death long before the final chapter. But in Serenade, homosexuality provides the crucial -- and ludicrous -- plot point. An opera singer's voice is destroyed by the homosexual attentions of a conductor; only his murder can salvage the singer's career....
Cain actually believed that artistic accomplishment was compromised by homosexual inclinations. He boasted that medical colleges used Serenade to teach students about the condition, and in a letter to the critic H. L. Mencken he wrote: 'The lamentable sounds that issue from a homo's throat when he sings are a matter of personal observation..... But the theme [of the book] demanded the next step, the unwarranted corollory that heavy workouts with a woman would bring out the stud horse high notes.'
Hardboiled homophobia from one of the great noir novelists. Who turns out to have been an idiot.
Filmed in 1956 by Anthony Mann, with Joan Fontaine and Mario Lanza in the leads.
A very nice copy, in the scarce dustwrapper.


Keywords: James M. CAIN"


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