book release offers plenty to think about"
by Bobbie Ann Mason Viking Books (A Penguin Life Book), USA, 2002,
Hardcover, 192 pages, ISBN: 0670031747
has been some time since a serious biography about Elvis has
been published. In her well researched and engaging book,
Bobbie Ann Mason, previously an award winning novelist, lays
bare the complex intricacies surrounding the life and career
of Elvis Aaron Presley.
release is one in the Penguin Life series. Previous biographical
titles in the series have been included publications on Abraham
Lincoln, Pope John XXIII, Martin Luther King, Marlon Brando
and Andy Warhol.
other biographers have gone into a greater degree of detail and
anecdote, Mason successfully addresses the more important aspects
of the Elvis legend and its motivating factors in only 192 pages.
The biography covers the well known and the not so well known. Elvis'
childhood years, the halcyon Sun days, the Army, Hollywood, famous
comeback, Vegas, Aloha and gradual disintegration are all given
Ms Mason's heartfelt treatment.
this she traverses themes and incidents as wide ranging as Egyptian
mythology to Beethoven's 'Moonlight Sonata' and Elvis' excesses.
It is her view that at the same time as 'the public ate Elvis alive',
the man himself was 'struggling with the basic questions of life,
with the glare of the spotlight blinding him.'
potent string of thought is further developed in thought-provoking
fashion as she recognises how Elvis shattered barriers, both musically
and socially: 'Elvis always behaved as if there were no limits.
It was his genius, and his curse. His excess of aspiration spurred
his worthiest achievements. When Elvis blended all the music he
had ever heard and the opposing sides of his nature and the opposite
races and classes of his region into one high-voltage eruption of
music - wasn't this in itself a blatant excess? But it was brilliant.'
author has a comfortably direct writing style as she moves between
the prosaic and complex:
casual observers, Elvis must have seemed to be on top of the world.
He was rich, handsome, famous. He enjoyed his life. He had friends,
he had a place he called home; he rented a luxurious house in Hollywood
where he could carry on his fun in his own way.'
incisive text successfully delves below the surface of Elvis's unusual
life and lifestyle. In her chapter on Elvis buying The Flying Circle
G Ranch: 'While Elvis may have entertained fantasies of getting
in touch with the earth and the seasons, it turned out that he couldn't
really relate to nature except artificially.'
only weakness I discerned in 'Elvis Presley' was the absence of
a detailed examination and analysis of the core of Elvis Presley's
appeal - his music.
author clearly understands, and discusses, the prolific musical
influences stirring on the young performer, but the music, the individual
songs of Elvis Presley receive only cursory narrative.
Presley' is due to be released in the USA in January 2003. It can
be pre-ordered from www.amazon.com
A fresh perspective makes 'Elvis Presley' a highly enjoyable journey
through the life and career of the world's greatest ever entertainer.
It is a great overview for newer fans, the uninitiated and those
of us wanting to refresh our memories and thoughts about The King.
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