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Alma Cogan

3.73 of 5 stars 3.73  ·  rating details  ·  83 ratings  ·  6 reviews
How does it feel to be never allowed to die? In this classic debut novel, Gordon Burn takes Britain's biggest selling vocalist of the 1950s and turns her story into an equation of celebrity and murder.
Paperback, 224 pages
Published March 4th 2004 by Faber & Faber (first published 1991)
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Jun 25, 2008 Paul rated it 3 of 5 stars
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
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
Oct 05, 2008 sisterimapoet rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  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
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.
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'?
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.
More about Gordon Burn...
Happy Like Murderers Somebody's Husband, Somebody's Son Born Yesterday: The News As A Novel Best and Edwards: Football, Fame and Oblivion Fullalove

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