ELVIS by June Juanico

ELVIS

In the Twilight of Memory
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KIRKUS REVIEW

 Juanico, the King's purported first love, offers a portrait of the young Presley that is intriguing, even touching, yet finally unbelievable. Juanico recalls her relationship with Elvis, from 1955 to '57, with bittersweet humor and good nature. She offers further detail on his fascination with fast cars, describes her tour of Florida with him, and includes her recollections of his infamous first appearance on the Ed Sullivan show. All of this is told with an eye toward detail, apparently derived from Juanico's habit of keeping journals. However, certain aspects of her tale don't jibe with those of other biographers (one of whom, Peter Guralnick, offers an introduction to this volume). For instance, in three separate incidents Juanico seems to suggest that Elvis was deeply aware of (and uncomfortable about) the nature of life for blacks in the Jim Crow South. The incidents include a bowling match in Memphis against a black team from Detroit, where Juanico states that she was ``determined to show the Northern team what true Southern hospitality was all about.'' What's strange about these references to racial turmoil is not only that they seem completely out of context, but that most other books on Presley have noted his casual use of the ``n-word.'' Juanico either conveniently forgets this or just plain omits it in her account, in the interest of a more desirable portrait. In fact, Presley is depicted as downright prudish in many situations, despite all the indications that he was at heart a wild-eyed southern boy. Finally, after tolerating countless implications of affairs--not the least of which concerned the young Natalie Wood--Juanico abruptly broke off her unconsummated relationship with Elvis, having come to realize that his life left little room for a wife and family. Elvis is undoubtedly a must-read for die-hard devotees of the King, but it doesn't rival previous portraits of the man in depth or originality. (16 pages b&w photos, not seen)

Pub Date: Aug. 16th, 1997
ISBN: 1-55970-393-8
Page count: 336pp
Publisher: Arcade
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15th, 1997




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