ELVIS PRESLEY CALLS HIS MOTHER AFTER THE ED SULLIVAN SHOW by Samuel Charters

ELVIS PRESLEY CALLS HIS MOTHER AFTER THE ED SULLIVAN SHOW

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Charters (Louisiana Black, 1986; Jelly Roll Morton's Last Night at the Jungle Inn, 1983, etc.) creates an imaginary phone conversation between a young, newly famous Elvis and his adored mother, after the notorious appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show in which Elvis got his convention-shaking pelvis chopped off. ""Now, Momma, you got to understand I didn't have no idea what all those camera people were doing when the show went out over the air."" So begins a lulling nightlong conversation between the boy who would be King and his insomniac, famously overattached mama Gladys. Elvis speculates to Gladys that savvy Sullivan was just trying to drive up ratings by generating a little mystery about what the singer's bottom half was up to. Charters's Elvis is hip enough to concede that the press is too intellectual to get the spontaneous stuff he does on stage, but he talks as if he's too innocent to get the effect he has on women. He minds his manners, putting down the phone so Gladys can't hear him talk to the sweet little girl his boys brought in for the night. Charters does offer, though, some witty and revealing moments. The best is an image of Elvis spontaneously spinning out the idea for a movie called The Lord's Singing Spirits, in which Elvis and Gladys flee a bum murder rap and take refuge with a traveling gospel group. Far too much of the brief narrative, however, strains for a feeling of wavering innocence, depending too much on the grizzled stories about Elvis's need for cheeseburgers and company, his difficulty sleeping, and his penchant for innocent little girls: ""How do you do, miss."" An affectionate but shapeless character sketch, lacking both the revelatory punch of exposÉ and the insight and interest of a developed novel.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1992
Page count: 128pp
Publisher: Coffee House