Graceland: Going Home with Elvis

Karal Ann Marling, Author Harvard University Press $27.5 (266p) ISBN 978-0-674-35889-8
Elvis Presley and his parents, Vernon and Gladys, as Jesus, Joseph and Mary? Their move from Tupelo, Miss., to Memphis in 1948 as the Israelites' flight from Egypt? If you can swallow such comparisons, you're ready to accompany Marling on this herky-jerky trip along the same roads the one and only King traveled during his lifetime. Readers are thrown head-first into creaky motel rooms with only one working light bulb, the makeshift Hollywood mansion of Presley's B-movie career, Las Vegas showroom stages and, of course, Graceland itself. Readers not only experience the American landscape as Presley did--they get a sense of the other influences of the time. Reading this book means meeting William Faulkner, eating moon pies and catfish with cornmeal crust and going backstage at Elvis's awkward wedding to Priscilla. In the process, one comes to understand how the nation grew up with the King, and then grew away from him. Marling obviously poured extensive research into her book. Her riffs and rants have a fun, freewheeling bent, creating cultural linkages that make perfect sense in some moments while at other times they appear as ways to mention as many American icons as possible in a few sentences. Still, being flung across miles of American tarmac and into the shotgun shacks and juke joints of the Deep South may be best done with a guide. Take this with a soup on of skepticism, a good road map and a packet of Tums. Illustrations. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 07/29/1996
Release date: 08/01/1996
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 268 pages - 978-0-674-35890-4
Hardcover - 258 pages - 978-0-674-86509-9
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