January 03, 2003 at 05:00 AM EST

Elvis Presley

type
Book
Current Status
In Season
author
Bobbie Ann Mason
genre
Nonfiction
We gave it an A-

Novelist Mason distinguishes her entry in the admirable Penguin Lives series from other Presley biographies by evincing acute sympathy for and understanding of the impoverished life that yielded such rich music. You’ve read the basic facts before — the Hillbilly Cat who became the King; manager Colonel Parker versus Elvis reading books; the music versus the drugs, with drugs winning. Mason portrays Presley as a decent man doomed by insecurity, a feeling of unworthiness, and a desire to please everyone close to him. In the end, Mason finds, Presley was a revolutionary artist who died thinking he was a trapped indentured servant to show business.

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