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This is a fascinating account in some detail, into the life of the sometimes cruel, sometimes benevolant character of Elvis Presley and the world that be built around himself.
The obese and obsessive environment of drugs, sex, adoration, hedonism, and self love that was the Elvis world is all on show here. I don't feel that Guralnick is pulling any punches. The incredible charity and generosity of the man is there, the triviality in his film career (and how he earned so much of his money) is acknowledged, the cruelty, the temper and the drug dependency is all on show.
There is incredible insight into Elvis' sexual tastes (he would today, surely be regarded as a paedophile with an undeniable apetite for girls in white panties aged 16 and under - even in his late twenties). The politics of his relationships - Anne Margaret and Priscilla particularly - are there. His emotional, financial, sexual and physical abuse of Priscilla is never denied.
There is a dark murky quality to the whimsical nature of the man. Halting his entire entourage on a long road trip from L.A. to Memphis because he wanted to fly a particular groupie in for an afternoon of sex is just a 'by the way' mention in one chapter. 'What Elvis wants, Elvis gets' is the motto of his life.
In order to sustain this environment Guralnick presents us with a man of undeniable talent - possibly even genius - who sold it out for a considerable period to perform in mundane, hastily cobbled together films that kept his manager, his father and his entourage financially satisfied.
While it was clear that Elvis was a great musical performer - a man who changed the face of modern American music and, no less, defied racial boundaries (when it was not to be taken for granted) - his tame, frankly soul destroying acting career helped him to spiral downwards into the distraction of drugs and the type of inward focused philosophy that only fuelled his ego.
Guralnick is very successful in painting the picture of a world that Elvis believed was all about him, and in which all things intersected through him - money, religious faith, the physical world - everything. The Mephis Mafia are portrayed as a group of limited ability red neck sycophants, parasites, and hangers on. Elvis is the puppet master who gave them positive strokes, balled them out, and generally played one against the other in order to make himself feel good - or simply for brief amusement.
This telling is thorough without feeling pedantic. There are great individual tales of significant private events. You get the feeling of a man who was incredibly flawed, over indulged, and was yet apparently so magnetic (and not simply on a financial level).
I'm no Elvis Presley fan. I believe that everyone does have an Elvis track that they get a genuine kick out of - I'm not different (I like his earlier, bluesier, more raucous materials personally) - but I'm no expert on the subject. I bought the book because America has such an unique way of taking it's biggest stars and turning them into - well, royalty (before destroying them).
Guralnick really delivers here. He really gets inside. For the duration of the telling you do actually feel like you're riding silently with Elvis, just watching it unfold from another dimension. It is compelling. It has turned my journey to work into a strange second life that I don't know how to explain to either my work colleagues nor my family!
Yes - this is a very sound investment.
3 of 4 people found this review helpful
Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?
Yes, especially if they are even remotely interested in Elvis and his music.
Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?
It made me sad to realise someone I had been so attached to as a child / teenager listening to his music had really messed his life up.
Any additional comments?
Elvis remains an enigma, a wonderful artist and so much written about him but the main thing in the book shows that he was for the most part a gentleman and a sweet guy.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
The life of Elvis Presley, Elvis was before my time for the most part. I was a child when he died there was so much talk about his death I wanted to know the truth. The way they talk about Elvis one would think he walked on water. This story is as depressing as it was refreshing. Depressing because his life was so stilted, probably because of his mother, read the first installment The Last Train to Memphis, and refreshing because he is seen as a human being. This story made me cry at places, honestly I think Elvis spent life looking for his mother. I would recommend this book that is the second installment and the first book I mentioned above for both fans and detractors of Elvis Presley you will not be disappointed by them no matter what camp you are in.
6 of 7 people found this review helpful
I have listened to both Elvis Audible presentations and enjoyed the early Elvis more.
I wish the narrator would have included the year, whenever a date was given, as it was hard to follow the story without knowing what year events were occurring.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful