From the start, Bill shows himself to be completely devoted to the women of his family. He endures his mom’s questions when she must confirm his identity before opening the door for him; he reminisces about his dead sister; and he contemplates his love for his wife, Sandra, and his daughter, Laura. He speaks of his impending status as a middle-aged man, saying that he feels caught between the needs of his children and his mother—“[b]oth demand attention, and you’re ham-sandwiched in the middle. And personally, I feel like squashed ham between two slices of Mighty Bran.” The majority of the book dwells on these ruminations. “I realise I’ve finally reached that golden age when eighty-year-old women find me irresistible,” he says. “It’s a twilight age.” His thoughts on retirement, taking care of his quirky mother and his daughter’s first experiences with love are driving forces of the narrative as he guides readers through his largely pleasant existence and enjoyable family dynamics. With wife, daughter and cat, there are plenty of crass but sweet interactions; it’s a functioning, funny family, and it’s refreshing to spend time with them. Bartlett’s prose is clear, and Bill’s light, witty voice as narrator is enjoyable throughout, particularly in his lists of things he wished he had accomplished or the nine commandments he’s discovered so far. Both Bill and the author are first and foremost jokesters: The prologue, for instance, may leave readers expecting an appearance by the actual king of rock ’n’ roll, as referenced in the title, though they’ll have a good chuckle when Elvis’ true identity is revealed. But as Bill approaches his 50th birthday, Bartlett also follows him into darker, more troubling realities. There are painful memories of his sister, Kate, his father’s passing and an accident, as well as a surprising announcement from his wife that brings these issues into sharper focus. Fortunately, through it all, Bill remains a delight to be around.
A readable slice-of-life novel that turns the days of an ordinary man into endearing, funny episodes and observations.