The Backslider, covers


So I finally read Levi Peterson’s The Backslider. And unlike other rites of passage (I’m looking at you, Moby Dick), The Backslider exceeded my expectations. Perhaps it had an unfair advantage, given my longstanding (and well documented) ambivalence for rural-Utah fiction. But part of the reason I’ve gotten frustrated with such fiction is that it’s just not as terrific as The Backslider. Anyway, if you want my review, go here. Today we’re talking about the novel’s covers over time.

The Backslider (1986)

I believe this is the original cover from 1986. It has a cowboy but it’s all kinds of boring. I mean, it’s fine, but . . . that’s all it is.


The Backslider (1990)

This is the 1990 mass-market paperback and the copy I read. It’s also a pretty boring cover, but it doesn’t scream 80s Utah publishing either. Actually, I have no idea what this cover’s telling me. It’s not really saying anything to me. But it’s not embarrassing to carry around.


The Bacslider (20th anniversary)

Frank looks too old to me here, but I do like the sense of literary gravitas mixed with a small town press putting out it’s local cowboy poet. That’s kind of charming.


The Backslider (2013)

This one for the new-this-year edition confuses me. Is it aimed at Dwight Yoakam fans? Is it aimed at the ladies? Tough guys? I can’t tell.

Now, we haven’t had many Molit novels make it through four covers. Of itself, it’s rather an accomplishment. That I’m not terribly satisfied with any of them points to something else. But nevermind that. What sort of cover would you give it? Or, which is your favorite among these four?

7 thoughts on “The Backslider, covers”

  1. If you showed me that 1990s mass market cover, I would have guessed it had been created in the ’80s: the pastel colors; the blocky font for the author name; the watercolor style illustration.

    I agree that the 20th anniversary cover is the best of the bunch. Are there any other non-nationally published major work of Mormon fiction that have more than one cover?

  2. Huh, I remember being blown away by “Moby Dick” when I first read it in grad school–liked it WAY better than expected. I’ve read “Backslider” twice and mostly remember feeling that it was an interesting story but not Mormon in any way I could really relate with. I tend to think it’s overrated as Mo lit, although I wouldn’t say I know of anything better, offhand.

  3. I also like the Anniversary cover best. This was one of the first mo-lit novels I had read, so it set the bar pretty high.

  4. Charly’s definitely had more than one cover. Work and the Glory has as well. Standing on the Promises has, mainly because it was eventually handled by two different publishers.

  5. The guy on the anniversary edition (i.e. the edition I own) is the Cowboy Jesus, not Frank. For this reason, I think it mostly works. I also think the illustrations throughout it match the tone of the book.

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