cover image That's All Right, Mama

That's All Right, Mama

Gerald Duff, Author Baskerville Publishers $21 (278p) ISBN 978-1-880909-33-1

Serious literary fiction about Elvis? You bet! Duff's (Graveyard Working) transcendent prose swings and sways, whoops and moans in pulsating cadences reminiscent of the King. The hilariously pedantic introduction is a setup for the ``manuscript'' that follows: the wry, gritty and profoundly moving autobiography of Elvis's identical twin brother, who allegedly died at birth. Jesse Garon Presley relates how, from his earliest childhood, half-crazy mother Gladys lavished all her attention and affection on Elvis. Brought up as Elvis's ``cousin'' (although Mama calls on Jesse to stand in for his twin from time to time), Jesse is left to his own devices-tinkering with cars and, later, hanging out in juke joints in Memphis and nearby Alabama. Jesse tells how it was he, not Elvis, who made the first recording at Sun Studio, and how, much the better dancer, he doubled for the burned-out ``Bubba'' on the Ed Sullivan Show and in the performance of the title song in Jailhouse Rock. Although he hides from Elvis for years at a time, Jesse can't keep from filling in for him-even as a husband to Priscilla-when asked. The ultimate irony is that, after his famous twin dies, Jesse is still not free to be himself: he ends up as an Elvis impersonator. A rich and well-realized tale, even for readers to whom August 16 (Elvis's death date) is just another day. (Aug.)