ELVIS WORLD by Jane & Michael Stem Stern
Kirkus Star


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To be published on the tenth anniversary of Elvis Presley's death, this lavish and offbeat tribute to ""the King of Rock and Roll"" contains within its heavily illustrated pages a wry and immensely entertaining illumination of a classic American icon. Writing with the cooperation of the Presley Estate, the Sterns, whose previous forays into Americana include Trucker, Roadfood, Amazing America, etc., here adopt a tone pitched neatly between irony and adulation as they explore ""Elvis World""--the term die-hard Elvis fans use to describe ""all he stands for: music, of course, and movies, but also the cascade of material things he consumed, the fans he enraptured and stuffed shirts he outraged."" Not for this panegyric the horrors of the Albert Goldman biography and its ilk; the drugs, the womanizing, the eating, and the manic behavior are to the Sterns only more evidence of the legendary nature of Elvis. Rather than an exposÉ, then, offered here is an in-depth, sympathetic look at an extraordinary phenomenon: the posthumous near-deification of Elvis by tens of thousands of fans, and a look at Elvis through those adoring eyes. Woven within a bemused appreciation (""He commandeers the stage like a general leading a charge, whipping his cape, snapping the mike cord, thrusting forward. . .but even better. . .is the way he poses, still as a statue, creating moments of perfect Elvisness"") are extended talks with his fans (""these are not the Beautiful People""), and a thorough tour of Elvis World--from the recipe of Elvis' favorite snack (Fried Peanut Butter and Banana Sandwich) to his perennial pantry items (banana pudding, fudge cookies), from capsule reviews of every Elvis film to mini-tours of Graceland and other stations in the Elvis geography. And, equally telling, the photos: over 250 (most unseen), black-and-white and color, ranging from snapshots of Elvis to a closeup of a four-foot-diameter LP knit in black and pink wool by a fan. A treat for Elvis fans of course, and, with its understanding of the mania that sustains a media phenomenon, a solid work of cultural anthropology: funny, fascinating, a rock-and-roll-book classic.

Pub Date: Aug. 16th, 1987
Publisher: Knopf