Book Talk: Road trip with a sadder, wiser Elvis

Wed Feb 2, 2011 5:30am EST
Email This Article |
Share This Article
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
| Print This Article | Single Page
[-] Text [+]

By Elaine Lies

TOKYO (Reuters) - What would Elvis be like if he had survived the trials of middle age and was still alive today, chastened and reflective at 76? And what if he went on a road trip back to his past?

Ben Fish, the main character of Micah Nathan's "Losing Graceland," is 21, just out of college and jobless with an anthropology degree. Dumped by his girlfriend and grieving his late father, he answers an ad promising $10,000 in cash if he drives a mysterious old man to Memphis.

Their journey takes them from the Buffalo, New York, suburb where the man was living through bars that have seen better days, a karaoke "Elvis" night, and miles and miles of road. Along the way, Ben slowly begins to wonder if his passenger, who looks like an "old, fat Elvis impersonator," might not be the King himself.

Nathan, who does not consider himself a major Elvis fan, talks about his book and the singer who inspired him anyway.

Q: Why Elvis?

A: "It really wasn't about Elvis for me, it was about a sad man. I am just fascinated with a culture of sorrow, I like stories about Greece, and I could not think of a sadder man than Elvis, especially toward the end of his life.

"You have two people in the history of the world who you can dress up as and go anywhere, and people will know who you are. The first person is Elvis, and the second person is Santa Claus. He was at that level of fame, and he lost everything. He descended into self-destruction and lost it all. If that's not a tragic figure, I don't know what is. Especially because he still is so loved.

"There was clearly something about the guy that spoke to everyone, across all kinds of socio-economic lines. And I figured, nobody's done what I consider a serious fictionalized account of how he would view his life, had he made it."   Continued...