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Glory B. - The Original Cover

Glory B. original artwork by Teri Gower.

While looking through materials for my workshop on Robert Altman's The Long Goodbye and its influence on my life and work, I came across this original artwork for the cover of my first novel, Glory B. - published in 1983, some years before The War Zone, which my publishers chose to promote as my first novel (it being my first serious literary one).

Glory B. was my attempt to write a kind of Pop Art novel about California, cults (particularly est or Erhard Seminars Training, which fascinated me at the time both as something rather clever and something rather suspect) and the music business.

The novel featured a not-very-good singer, Gloria Bergen, who is spotted by a music producer looking to try something new, who recognizes that she has charisma, if not singing talent, and decides to start a cult, called Cult, around her.  Its slogan is, "Less is More."

The book was hugely influenced both by Altman's The Long Goodbye (not least the unforgettable opening sequence with Philip Marlowe's cat - hence the cat in the illustration above; Gloria Bergen has a cat in the novel) and by Tom Robbins' wonderful cult novel, Even Cowgirls Get The Blues, which I absolutely loved.

I tried for the same playfulness and lightness of touch as Robbins, and the same seemingly loose but actually very structured narrative of Altman. I'm not sure how close I got to either, but the book was a love song from England, where I was living at the time, to California...and perhaps I shall republish it one day, as a curiosity.

When Glory B. was published as a paperback in Britain by Hamlyn, they chose a rather more mass-market cover than this design for the book. I liked it, but not nearly so much as the book jacket design above, which was created by my friend, Teri Gower. She went on, several years later, to illustrate the children's book I wrote with my first son, Joe Buffalo Stuart, called Henry and the Sea.

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