The Presley Arrangement

Author: Monte Wayne Nicholson

Living The Dream Press

ISBN: 0-9761764-2-4 (Paperback, 222 pp.)


The first thing that is noticed about "The Presley Arrangement" is the very poor cover. According to the publisher, the cover is so bad because the author insisted on using the original artwork and this was only available on a poor photocopy. Yes, well make of that what you will, the cover now looks exactly like that -- a poor photocopy. A half-decent graphic artist with a limited knowledge of Illustrator and Photoshop could easily have recreated the cover and the book would look better for it. What was that about the original? Oh yes, the story is that the book was originally published back in the 1980s, but it was removed from the market (some even say "banned"!) for some mysterious reason. Of course, the author and publishers would no doubt like you to think that this was because the book reveals some strange secret about Elvis's "disappearance."

The text is marred throughout by setting errors and seems also to present yet another example of a writer who has relied on a spell-checker for proof-reading. The publisher has made an announcement about the many setting errors in the book, promising replacement copies, but I have received no further details about this offer, nor have I seen such a replacement copy. It really is amazing how many recent Elvis books have suffered from poor setting and spelling. I know I go on about it and no doubt many publishers will take umbrage, but they expect our money to be correctly printed and 100% acceptable and I see no reason why we should not expect an at least acceptable standard of printing.

In spite of these poor production elements, "The Presley Arrangement" gets off to a promising start: "Feeling like a bowling shirt at a sit-down dinner..." is a fine opener. The tale is written in an easy, flowing manner and the author's own experience as a member of Los Angeles Sheriffs Department has probably helped in this. The story itself is yet another variation on the theme of Elvis having faked his death and, in spite of its somewhat contrived basis, remains intriguing and almost believable until an Elvis impersonator character appears. He is supposed to have taken Elvis's place in the Hawaii shows, but that is just too unbelievable, even for this work of pure fiction. Strangely, this element is quite unnecessary to the tale as a whole, which would be better without it. With the appearance of this character, the story loses whatever credibility it has and becomes just another unfortunate piece of fiction. Such a pity, for its promising start is maintained for most of the first half of the book and to some extent, the tale picks up later, too, but the damage is done. In addition, the story does not fully tie together: the inability of Don Spooner's wife to contact friend Ron after Don's death is not explained, for example. In some ways, the author seems not to have been able to contain his enthusiasm and so has taken an originally plausible premise way past the realms of what can be accepted.

Believe if you will the nonsense about "The Presley Arrangement" being something very special, as is implied in, "One of the most sought after and hard-to-find Elvis novels is being reissued... The long out of print novel was originally published in 1987 and was the subject of conspiracy tales itself with claims that copies were removed from bookstore shelves" (found on a respected Elvis site). Sounds like someone has a good eye for marketing and free publicity, if you ask me. "The Presley Arrangement" really is no more than a passable piece of Elvis fiction. Printing errors, sometimes several on a page, and some writing errors ("and stuck his foot in the carburettor...") spoil the reading; promises that the numerous printing errors will be corrected must still be made reality and do not offer a solution for the writing mistakes.

Clever marketing and poor production do not a good book make and "The Presley Arrangement" proves this all too well.


David Neale

copyright January, 2005

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