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Alma Cogan

3.7  ·  Rating Details ·  115 Ratings  ·  10 Reviews
How does it feel to be never allowed to die? In his classic d�but novel, Gordon Burn takes Britain's biggest selling vocalist of the 1950s and turns her story into an equation of celebrity and murder. Fictional characters jostle for space with real life stars - from John Lennon to Doris Day and Sammy Davis Jnr - as Burn, in a breathtaking act of appropriation, reinvents th ...more
Paperback, 195 pages
Published March 4th 2004 by Faber Faber (first published 1991)
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Mar 10, 2015 Susan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was Gordon Burn’s debut novel; released in 1991 it won the Whitbread Book Award. The novel is based upon a real character, the singer Alma Cogan, who was extremely successful in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s. Known as, “the girl with the giggle in her voice, “ Cogan was the highest paid British female entertainer in her heyday. In reality, Alma Cogan died in 1966 at the tragically young age of thirty four. However, this book takes as the premise that she did not die, but lived on into ob ...more
Paul Bryant
May 13, 2008 Paul Bryant rated it liked it
Shelves: novels
This short but exhaustingly written novel is undoubtedly a considerable achievement but I wouldn't recommend it to you unless you're obsessive about British showbiz culture, fashion and interior decoration 1950-1965. And I guess it would help to be interested in Alma Cogan, because it's about her, I guess. That might be debatable. Alma was a flamboyant big-lunged Ethel Merman I-don't-need-a-microphone singer beloved by every old fart in Britain in the just before Elvis period (old farts could be ...more
Feb 09, 2015 Val rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: discuss-it
Alma Cogan was a very big star in the fifties and early sixties. This book is an imagined memoir. The real singer died in 1966, but the author has her career fading and her then retiring to a country cottage. In her fifties there is a renewed interest in her from several sources, which leads Alma to look back at her life.
It is very well done, with some light humour and good treatment of the ups and downs of celebrity. I don't know how true the character's thoughts would be to the real Alma's, bu
Jun 16, 2007 Karen rated it liked it
Taught in my term abroad Contemporary British Literature class by this total sex bomb late 90's English guy who said absurd, exasperated things like "The sun just reflects off the telly when I'm watching football...YOU call it soccer, love" and "I bet you grew up playing BASKETBALL, didn't you, Miss Corday?" I was in total baffled lust and he obviously had a weird American love/hate thing going on of which I should have taken advantage, but I "had a boyfriend." Of course, it turned out he was fe ...more
Mar 29, 2015 Kelly rated it liked it
This book is how they imagined a memoir would be if Alma Cogan the very successful singer of the 1950's -60's had lived longer and not died as she did at such a young age (34yrs old). If you have an interest in this age of pop music then I'm sure you would enjoy this book however I read it for my book club and found my mind wandering off but I did like some descriptions which set the scene well so you could imagine the time and place. I rated it a three out of five.
Apr 29, 2008 sisterimapoet rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to sisterimapoet by: John Self
Shelves: fiction-2008
It's rare to find a book that does something utterly different from most novels. This is one such book.

I knew nothing about Alma Cogan before I read this, she was little more than a name on my old music radar. I'm not sure I know much more about her now, in a truthful, biographical way, as that is not what this novel is about.

Instead Burns uses Alma's eyes to see beyond the scope of her natural life, to give us an impression of fame and the culture of celebrity and notoriety from the 50's throug
Aug 06, 2009 Rhonda rated it it was ok
I should've liked this more... I expected to. There's some amazing writing in there, but I was just not convinced by the narrator's voice - did Alma Cogan herself think in such a literary way? And i found the overall plot and esp the denouement a bit 'so what'?
Derek Baldwin
Very odd book which somehow juxtaposes the eponymous Miss Cogan with Myra Hindley in ways which I can't quite remember anymore! The author is nothing if not versatile, I remember for example reading a book about snooker he had written, and several others whose titles escape me now.
A Ivy
May 15, 2016 A Ivy rated it liked it
Need to be listening to her while you read for the full experience.
Oct 22, 2011 Liz rated it really liked it
Fine descriptive writing. I think I'll see more on a second reading

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Gordon Burn was an English writer born in Newcastle upon Tyne and the author of four novels and several works of non-fiction.

Burn's novels deal with issues of modern fame and faded celebrity, as well as life through a media lens. His novel Alma Cogan (1991), which imagined the future life of the British singer Alma Cogan had she not died in the 1960s, won the Whitbread Award for Best First Novel.
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