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Article

Alma

Posted on

Alma

type:
Book
Current Status:
In Season
author:
Gordon Burn
publisher:
Houghton Mifflin
genre:
Fiction

We gave it an A

Noel Coward, who wrote the line, ”Extraordinary how potent cheap music is,” appears as a minor character in Alma, a novel about Alma Cogan, a British pop star of the ’50s whose tinny sound (”Bell Bottom Blues,” ”Sugartime”) is still evocative. Cogan died at 34 of cancer in 1966, but in Gordon Burn’s beautifully original blend of fact and fiction she is still alive, although Cogan and the culture she represents have been erased, seemingly overnight, by the music of the ’60s, by the cult of youth, the cult of explicit sexuality, and by the internationalization of the entertainment industry. As Alma’s moment fades and she becomes poor and dependent on alcohol, Burn offers some powerful insights into the not entirely unrelated subjects of violence and celebrity. A

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