Elvis: The King Of Rock 'n' Roll

Author: Mary Grace Rodarte

Publisher: Ariel Books

ISBN: 0-7407-4726-6 (Hardback, about 80 pp. unnumbered)


Sometimes you just have to wonder why publishers bother. Let's face it, a great number of books about Elvis have already been published and some of them have even been good, I admit. On the other hand, a lot of them have been what can only be politely referred to as regurgitation: the same, often erroneous, material has been used over and over again, with little or no attraction for the average fan. Still, the publishers continue to produce such books, so they must surely envisage sufficient potential buyers. Publishers are not charities, after all.

"Elvis: The King Of Rock 'n' Roll" is a miniscule book, measuring just 8 by 10 -- centimetres, that is, so no more than about three by four inches. (Incidentally, this does not make it the smallest Elvis book. This rather unfortunate claim goes to "Elvis: The Legend," by Margaret Lannamann.) The cover is eye-catching, as it contains one of those "magic" displays that allows one to see numerous images by viewing the display at different angles (technically, a "lenticular image"): this one presents us with a young singing Elvis and a superimposition of the book's title in several colours.

As for the inside, just 42 leaves, including end-papers and title pages, mean that less than 80 pages are available for actual content. Just what the content is supposed to present is unclear: many colours, as well as black and silver, provide the book with a sort of modern 1960s' flavour, and this decoration is occasionally enhanced with, it has to be admitted, nicely cropped images of Elvis on which, unfortunately, a PhotoShop fiend seems to have been occasionally let loose, providing an overall pseudo-kitsch-art endeavour. The actual text is a mixture of a few Elvis quotes, some erroneous "facts" (mother's birthday chestnut being the saddest, closely followed by an incorrect spelling of Parker's Dutch name -- not for the first time written as Kujik instead of Kuijk), and the amazing revelation that "ELVIS" is an anagram of "LIVES." You get the picture -- nothing new from an extremely limited offering.

Okay, okay, the book is probably not meant to be taken too seriously. I guess it's aimed at the last-minute "I must have something to take home with me" buyer who, on a whim, visits Graceland. Perhaps it might also make a little stocking-filler over the festive season. As is the fate of most stocking-fillers, however, it will soon be put aside and forgotten. Unless you collect small Elvis books. Or lenticular images.


David Neale

copyright October 2004

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