Thursday, November 29, 2007

Pg. 69: Steve Carlson's "Almost Graceland"

The current feature at the Page 69 Test: Steve Carlson's Almost Graceland.

About the book, from the publisher:
Ray Johnston thought his life was disgustingly normal. At forty-two, he had lived in Memphis all his life. His ex-wife had saved him from paying alimony by marrying her divorce lawyer, he enjoyed his work at the lumberyard, and he had a girlfriend who, everyone had to admit, was a peach. He did suffer one recurring nuisance; from as far back as he could remember, strangers would come up to him asking, “Do you know you look a lot like Elvis?” One day a man at a bar notices the similarity. It turns out the man actually works for Elvis Presley, and soon Ray gets two unfriendly phone calls, supposedly from the King himself. Later comes a third, one that makes Ray dizzy. He has been invited to dinner at Graceland! In an hour! Why? Ray can’t believe it -- even when the limousine arrives to take him to the famed residence.

What follows is a meeting of two men who have almost nothing in common except their looks, their age, and the city they were born and grew up in. One is a working man who is trying to deal with what life has given him. The other is the most well-known and worshipped singer who has ever lived.

Steve Carlson delivers an enchanting debut novel that explores the power of loss and redemption in a moving portrait of Elvis at the end of his life.
Among the early praise for the novel:
"A beautifully written novel by a longtime television actor that brings to life a pleasant middle-aged truck driver in Memphis. Almost Graceland is one of the most interesting works of fiction to cross my desk in a long time."
--R. Cavin, Editor, St. Martin's Press

"A conceptually intriguing portrait of the man Elvis might have been if he weren't all shook up."

"In this debut novel by Carlson, a film actor and author (The Commercial Actor's Guide), Gladys Presley gives birth to twin sons on January 8, 1935, in Tupelo, MS. One is named Elvis; birth records indicate that the other was stillborn. In April 1977, Ray Johnston, a Memphis lumberyard worker with an uncanny resemblance to Elvis, discovers that he was adopted. Identical birthdays, a common birthplace, and other coincidences convince Ray that he is Elvis's twin brother, but few others take his claim seriously. An article in a local newspaper finally catches the King's attention, along with a number of Elvis watchers and curiosity seekers, launching Ray into the most exciting five months of his life. As rejection gradually becomes acceptance and Ray and Elvis begin sharing personal moments, good times are overshadowed by unscrupulous paparazzi, a kidnapping attempt, and an abiding need for secrecy. Of course, Elvis's death on August 16, 1977, ends the adventure. Facts of Elvis's life are meticulously woven into this novel of 'what ifs' that will catch the fancy of Elvis fans. Recommended for popular fiction collections."
--Thomas L. Kilpatrick, Library Journal

"Elvis-loving readers who can put their disbelief [about The King's separated-at-birth twin] in check will want to add this to the collection."
--Publishers Weekly
Learn more about the novel and author at Steve Carlson's website.

The Page 69 Test: Almost Graceland.

--Marshal Zeringue