Monday, August 12, 2013

In Search of Elvis: A Journey to Find the Man Beneath the Jumpsuit by Charlie Connelly

This is the kind of book I love: the author gets a notion and embarks on a grand quest looking for answers. Englishman Connelly isn't looking for Elvis at Burger King in Kalamazoo (he doesn't believe Elvis is physically alive), but rather he wants to explore the continuing impact of Elvis three decades after his death. The King's history makes Tupelo, Memphis, and Las Vegas obvious destinations*, as well as Hawaii and Germany (where he served in the U.S. Army). But the author also seeks Elvis in unexpected lands such as Uzbekistan, Wales, Finland, and Israel.

Connelly doesn't spew out a ton of facts about Elvis—he rightly leaves that to the biographers—but here is something I didn't know: aside from a few shows in Canada in 1957, Elvis never performed outside of the United States. Nowadays we take world tours by famous performers for granted (at least the U.S. and Europe, plus Japan and/or Australia).

Despite the tourism described in the footnote below, I'm not a big Elvis fan. The myth and mystique of the man has always interested me, though. That made In Search of Elvis a lot of fun to read. In some ways it reminds me of Hey Buddy by Gary W. Moore (about Buddy Holly), but I enjoyed this book more.

* I have been to all three: Tupelo in 1990, Memphis/Graceland in 1990 and 1999 (before and after it switched from a live guide to a pre-recorded tour), and Las Vegas in 2003 (though that visit had nothing to do with Elvis).  I also went to that Burger King in Kalamazoo in 1993. I was young and looking for offbeat places to go.


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