Everything Elvis: Fantastic Facts About The King!

Author: Helen Clutton

Publisher: Virgin Books Ltd.

ISBN: 0-7535-0960-1 (Paperback, 216 pp.)

 

Many Elvis books are oversized and overpriced. "Everything Elvis: Fantastic Facts About The King!" by Helen Clutton is, however, a refreshing exception. It is smaller than the normal paperback and, at just 5.99 (US$ 7.95; Can$ 12.50), offers excellent value for money. Its 216 pages are jam-packed with interesting snippets of information, trivia, and all sorts of other knowledge, useful and useless, about Elvis. Okay, many dyed-in-the-wool will know most of what is presented in handy bite-sized chunks, but I bet even they will find a number of items that had been forgotten, or perhaps even never known, and for the large number of new Elvis fans on the block, this little gem is a great crash-course on the man himself.

Appropriately, the book's cover is coloured gold and the front presents a 70's style "ELVIS" above a superb action shot from the 1950s. If I've counted correctly, the book is divided into 52 sections, each dealing with a particular aspect of Elvis's life. Each section bears a title borrowed from Elvis's song catalogue, which attempts to indicate the nature of the contents; the section on army times is headed "Soldier Boy" and that about his sartorial interests is "A Cane And A High Starched Collar," for example. This doesn't necessarily make for easy reference (there is no index, which is just as well, as it would be almost as long as the book itself), but it does at least give some indication of where something might be located. All sorts of areas are covered: early life, Graceland, Tom Parker, films, fans recollections, romantic interests, and many more. Scattered throught the sections are also some great quotes.

The meat of the book -- all the bits of trivia -- are presented in small, easy-to-digest, quick-to-read paragraphs, often written in a pleasant tongue-in-cheek manner: "There is a statue of Elvis on Beale Street, which manages to look absolutely nothing like him." Not a wonderful extract, that one, to be honest, as most of the other entries are much more interesting and informative. Nine sections carry the same name, "I Want You, I need You, I love You." Each of these presents the author's selection of the ten best Elvis songs in a particular music genre, with commentary. This is largely subjective, of course, so readers are not necessarily going to agree with the choices, though some are particularly good; the author's selection of "How's The World Treating You" as one of Elvis's best blues tracks is one with which I wholeheartedly agree.

In a nutshell, a great little book, both for the seasoned fan and for the newcomer; easy to take on holiday, leave around the house, great for on the toilet! And I have a sneaking suspicion that the author is Welsh, though I have been unable to find any information about her. Anyway, that must be another point in the book's favour!

 

David Neale

copyright August 2004

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