Elvis, he’s so textual
Bookstore shelves bursting with bios, tell-alls
Elvis is in the building.
Well, house, technically, as in publishing house.
With the weeklong hoopla of the 25th anniversary of Elvis Presley’s death concluding, there are many new books lining shop owner’s shelves waiting to sate any Elvis fanatic’s king-size cravings.
Random House published three Elvis books this summer, but they’re by no means alone with timely printings. Just about any and every author or photographer who could find a niche, or not, slapped a book together for 2002. And many that had done so previously found something to add to their books, if only at least a new cover, and re-released them.
New and retread books about Elvis range from pricey coffee table items to cut-rate booklets, the folded and stapled kind; authorized to unauthorized; green-lighted by Graceland and some that might get sued; pure photography to pure fiction.
Among the authorized is Elvis: A Celebration: Images of Elvis Presley From the Elvis Presley Archive at Graceland, by Mike Evans (DK Publishing, July 2002, $50).
The 608-page book has 600-plus photos of the King reaching back to blond, 6-year-old Tupelo Elvis, to sex god 1950s Elvis to leather-clad Dionysus 1968 Elvis to downtrodden superstar late 1970s Elvis.
Also authorized is Elvis: Then & Now (Gruner+Jahr, August 2002, $9.99), a “bookazine” with photos of Graceland, Presley’s wardrobe and jewelry and articles. Presley biographer Peter Guralnick writes the introduction.
One of the sassier books to hit the shelves this summer is filmmaker Kim Adelman’s The Girls’ Guide to Elvis, The Clothes, the Hair, the Women, and More! (Broadway Books.)
“I’m a second-generation Elvis fan, from the Lisa Marie generation,” says Adelman, from her home in Los Angeles. “I have a very fun attitude towards Elvis; Elvis is fun and Elvis is sexy.”
Adelman’s view of Elvis is obvious from her book’s cover, a deceptively not-so-innocent shot from The Commercial Appeal archives of Elvis hypnotizing a young starlet with his stare. “That was actually the inspiration,” Adelman said, referring to the lack of material pointing out Elvis’s almost vampiric sex appeal.
The book derived out of her Web site girlsguidetoelvis.com, and could be the first “Girl Power” take on the rock-and-roll Svengali.
Written with Graceland’s knowledge, though without its authorization, Adelman said she wanted to write a book that was just fun, not a 30-pound behemoth trying to capture all that’s Elvis. Skimming chapter titles reveals the fun she has in mind.
Chapter 4: “Girls, I’ll See You Backstage”
Chapter 5: “A Date With Elvis”
Chapter 10: “Regarding Elvis’ Weight”
Chapter 11: “Perfect Hair”
Chapter 13: “Sex With Elvis”
Chapter 16: “Fat And Forty”
Adelman said she didn’t want to slap something together to capitalize on this year’s anniversary date, and also isn’t so amazed at the rash of new books flying into stores.
“I think we’re noticing (Elvis books) more because it’s the 25th this year,” she said. “(But) isn’t that fabulous about Elvis, that you can carve out Elvis into anything you want?”
A little closer to home, Memphis-based Robert Gordon worked with the Elvis estate to put together his highly elaborate book, The Elvis Treasures (Villard), ornately designed, featuring replica mementos and documents that pull out. “This book wasn’t printed, it was built,” boasts Gordon, who said he had to complete his parts more than a year ago.
“It’s astounding that 25 years after this guy died, we’re still paying attention,” Gordon said. “You have to remember, Elvis’s ascent into American consciousness coincided with the advent of television. He coalesced youth culture, and youth culture has been Elvis-oriented since - directly or indirectly.”
Replica mementos in his book include a handwritten love letter to his Memphis girlfriend, a Christmas card of Presley in uniform, tickets, invitations and telegrams sent upon Elvis’s death from musicians such as B. B. King and Johnny Cash. Also included is a CD of Elvis interviews.
“I think Elvis, the study of Elvis, is its own genre,” Gordon said. “It could fill a bookstore’s shelves. Because he has come to represent so much, he has become very widely written about. I’m sure that like with all subjects there are going to be some good books and some bad books.
“In a way, Elvis represents youth culture, so in a way what we’re celebrating (with all the attention) is a voice and a presence of youthful thought in America.”
Following are some other books either published or republished coinciding with this year’s anniversary.
Like Gordon says, some are good, some are bad. And some are just odd (even for Elvis), like The Tao of Elvis, (Harvest, June 2002, $12) from Jungian analyst and Texas A&M professor David Rosen, who matches quotes from Eastern philosophers with the wisdom of the king born in a Tupelo shotgun house.
Elvis Presley’s Love Me Tender, by Elvis Presley and Vera Matson and illustrated by Tom Browning (HarperCollins Juvenile Books, March 2003, no price listed.)
Elvis Presley: Silver Screen Icon: A Collection of Movie Posters, by Steve Templeton (The Overmountain Press, December 2002, $49.95).
Sergeant Presley: Our Untold Story of Elvis’ Missing Years, by Rex Mansfield, Elisabeth Mansfield, Zoe Terrill (contributor), as told to Marshall Terrill (ECW Press, September 2002, $24.95).
Private Presley: The Missing Years - Elvis in Germany, by Andreas Schroer (HarperCollins, August 2002, $19.95).
Elvis: A Radio History from 1945 to 1955, by Aaron Webster (Republic of Texas Press, July 2002, $18.95).
The Ways of Elvis: Lessons from His Life, by John Dawson (Tapestry Press, July 2002, price not available).
Schmelvis: In Search of Elvis Presley’s Jewish Roots, by Jonathan Goldstein, Max Wallace, Johnathan Goldstein (ECW Press, April 2002, $17.95).
Blue Suede Clues: A Murder Mystery Featuring Elvis Presley, by Daniel M. Klein (Minotaur Books, March 2002, $22.95).
Where the Bodies Are: Final Visits to the Rich, Famous, and Interesting, by Patricia Brooks (Globe Pequot Press, October 2002, $15.95).
Elvis: The King on Film, by Chutley Chops, Editor (Glitter Books, August 2002, $14.95).
Elvis Presley Unseen Archives, by Marie Clayton (Parragon, July 2002, $9.98).
Elvis: A Celebration in Pictures, by the editors of Life magazine (Time Life Home Entertainment, July 2002, $14.99).
Elvis in the Morning, by William F. Buckley (Harcourt, June 2002, $14).
Elvis Encyclopedia, by David E. Stanley, with Frank Coffey and foreword by Lamar Fike (May 2002, $9.99).
The Rough Guide to Elvis (The Man - The Music - The Movies - The Myth), by Paul Simpson (Rough Guides Ltd, August 2002, no price available.)
Elvis & Buddy - Linked Lives, by Alan Mann (Music Mentor Books August 2002, no price available).
Elvis: Caught In A Trap, by Laurens van Houten (May 2002).
Elvis #1 Hits; the Secret History of the Classics, by Patrick Humphries (October 2002, no price available).
Elvis, Live At Five, by John Paxson (Dunne, September 2002, $22.95).
Gravesites of Southern Musicians, by Dr. Edward Amos (McFarland & Co. Inc., November 2002, $29.95).
Elvis: The King Remembered (with CD of Elvis interviews and reactions), by Susan M. Moyer and Jerry Osborne (audio), Sports Publishing LLC, July 2002, $39.95.
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