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19 Reviews
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Incisive, insightful and amusing
For the best reason to read this book, refer to "mlbasquiat"'s review and you will be rewarded by seeing just how incisive the book can be. Nothing triggers a response like that as well as truth. The thinly disguised narrative of that review speaks of the reverse racism peddled by a few with massive inferiority complexes, but is not representative of the many fine...
Published on February 19, 2003 by Uracas

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6 of 11 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars I stopped reading here.
I had high hopes for Biggest Elvis, since Nancy Pearl recommends it so enthusiastically in "Book Lust." Although I have no complaint with the quality of the writing, I found this book to be a downer in a big way. Kluge makes living in a military base in the Phillipines seem to be one grade removed from hell and I don't want to read about hell. Sorry. When I reached...
Published on March 27, 2005 by A reader


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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Incisive, insightful and amusing, February 19, 2003
By 
Uracas "Uracus" (Tamuning, Guam United States) - See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Biggest Elvis (Paperback)
For the best reason to read this book, refer to "mlbasquiat"'s review and you will be rewarded by seeing just how incisive the book can be. Nothing triggers a response like that as well as truth. The thinly disguised narrative of that review speaks of the reverse racism peddled by a few with massive inferiority complexes, but is not representative of the many fine people who struggle daily to understand each other in Micronesia and the Philippine Islands. There are moments in the book which both flatter America and defame it, so if you have such biases you may miss the balance.
Yes "Biggest Elvis" is written from Kluge's perspective, but that is of course what the book is about: His struggle to understand the people around him. It did not impress me as a bible of Pacific culture any more than Kluge impressed me as a philanthropist of infinite wisdom. But it did strike me as a random slice of "in your face" reality with a few powerful messages... a solid read.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Funny, melancholy, fascinating, November 17, 1996
By A Customer
This review is from: Biggest Elvis (Hardcover)
This is a hip, sad, funny, thoughtful, thoroughly well-written book about the Philippines, America in decline, true love, girly bars, midlife crises, capitalism at its most evil, colonialism in its final hour, and Elvis. Set mostly in Olangapo in 1990, just before the U.S. navy sailed away, it's (among other things) an unflinching look at what happens when you can walk across a bridge from the First World to the Third. The characters are real and fascinating, especially Ward Wiggins, overweight, down-and-out, third-rate college professor turned star performer, the "Biggest Elvis" of the title. Wiggins is a dreamer and more than a bit of a loser, but he gets a piece of something bigger than himself and he's determined not to let go. In a world of whores and hustlers, where "nothing stays new and nobody stays young", innocence and magic are put to the harshest of tests; Wiggins is no innocent, but he truly believes in magic, and the book lets us see why. I nicked a point or two for some unexplained mysteries (Colonel Parker, Baby, the final tour) and an appropriate but implausible dramatic climax. Overall, though, this was one of the best books I've read this year. The publisher doesn't seem to be pushing it real hard, which is a shame; "Biggest Elvis" is a minor classic. By the way, I live in a part of the world where part of the book is set, and can attest to the accuracy of the book's descriptions. The nameless island hellhole of the last few chapters is the island of Rota, in the Northern Marianas, and the book gives a dramatized but not grossly inaccurate description of workers' conditions there five or six years ago. Things have gotten better since then, somewhat
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars personally one of the most satisfying books I've ever read, December 21, 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: Biggest Elvis (Hardcover)
Biggest Elvis was passed to me from a coworker in Berkeley, CA. I lived for a year in Guam and have a fondness for Elvis lore and that combination made my colleague think of Biggest Elvis. I am so glad she did. Kluge does a wonderful job describing Guam, the Micronesian Islands (especially Palau) and the influence that the US has on that area. I worked in a nightclub in Guam that catered to mostly Japanese and korean tourists and included karaoke and hokey celebrity impersonators. The stuff Kluge puts into Biggest Elvis was like literary chocolate, yummy and delicious, to the point that I kind of got a buzz from reading it. I've been searching the used bookstores for my very own copy because I do not like to shop on-line or at chain bookstores--Unfortuantely its quite hard to find, despite the popular reactions the readers seem to have and its contemporary elements--anyway, its a great book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tear-jerker for anyone who has ever loved the Philippines, May 5, 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: Biggest Elvis (Paperback)
A book you won't be able to put down if you've ever spent time in the Philippines and fallen in love with both the country and its magical women. Clearly the author has done both and the conversations that take place will put the reader right smack in Ermita or Olongapo or any of a number of places where the music's loud, the San Miguel cheap, and the angelic faces of seemingly innocent bar girls will have you feeling that you are living some sort of "Miss Saigon" life. I could not put the book down, and finished it in one five hour sitting between L.A. and Honolulu. "Mabuhay!" to P.F.Kluge and here's hoping that he uses his insight to give us another story of the Philippines soon.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sheer magic, May 30, 2009
By 
e. verrillo (williamsburg, ma) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Biggest Elvis (Hardcover)
P.F. Kluge is a magician. He can pick you up and plop you down anywhere in the world with a few well-chosen words. In this trick, he transports you to Olongapo-- the world's biggest brothel. Kluge tells the story from the perspective of three Elvis impersonators (and others as well), which gives the book a vivid and intimate feel. It is simultaneously a mystery, a love story and a slice of history--told with such humor and compassion that you will be enthralled from the first word to the last.

In Biggest Elvis, three unlikely Elvis impersonators wind up in the Philippines with their tripartite act: Elvis as a young man ("Baby Elvis," a rather thick young man who has had only one idea in his life), Elvis as a disenchanted, leather-clad sell-out ("Dude Elvis," who dreams of being a movie star), and, finally, Elvis as an overweight, drug-ridden has-been ("Biggest Elvis," a burnt-out college professor). The trio has high hopes for bookings in "familiar" places (Europe, America), but instead they land in Olongapo, a small town that serves Subic Bay Naval Base, America's largest military installation. Where there are sailors there are prostitutes. And, as the three unwitting Elvises discover, where there are lots of sailors, there are lots of prostitutes.

It is the interplay (no pun intended) between a half dozen beautiful Filipina prostitutes and the Elvis act that forms the heart of the plot. But while Baby Elvis discovers true love, and Dude Elvis winds up with a somewhat dubious version of his lifetime ambition, Biggest Elvis lands in the midst of an insurrection. As he encounters history in the making, Biggest Elvis is transformed from being a fat, ineffectual ex-professor, to an icon, and, eventually, a target. The question is: Who wants to kill Biggest Elvis, and why?

What is so appealing about this book is that Kluge manages to combine truly memorable characters and an engaging plot with Philippine history. No,it is really our history he's talking about. The Philippines were America's first true colony, and housed our largest military base, which was key to winning the War in the Pacific during WWII, and acted as a jumping-off point for all our further (questionable) military operations in the region. If we want to understand ourselves as an empire, we really should know more about the Philippines. I am embarrassed to say that I don't, although with Kluge as my guide, and Elvis as my inspiration, I intend to. Thank you Mr. Kluge.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Men will love it..., August 23, 2007
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Biggest Elvis (Paperback)
To be brief, this is in a class with Mustang Sally which makes it one of the funniest books ever written. I've bought copies to give to my friends. Make no mistake: it's a guy's book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, intriguing, enthralling, exciting., September 10, 1997
By A Customer
This review is from: Biggest Elvis (Paperback)
As an Elvis fan, I was at first intrigued by the concept of the book, what I got was much more than I had first thought. Deep, well-written, insightful and quite a crop of interesting characters. The trio of Elvis impersonators each have their own well-defined personality, yet also coincide with the many personalities of Elvis - shy boy, wicked ladies man, humanitarian. The story moves through the socio-political-economic climate of a Philippines under the thumb of America and it's Navy. Not for all Elvis fans, but a must for anyone interested in character studies surrounded by a good story and an interesting setting
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Biggest Elvis is thought provoking, poignant, and funny., October 13, 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: Biggest Elvis (Paperback)
Three unlikely protagonists in an even more unlikely setting somehow manage to keep a poignant and often laugh-out-loud-funny storyline from ever getting lost in the absurd. Kluge creates lively, sympathetic characters in his triumvirate of Elvis impersonators, and the lush, vibrant settings evoke vivid sensations as the story weaves in and out of Kluge's wonderfully lyrical landscapes. This book puts US pop culture in a new and interesting light, one in which heroes are mocked, antiheroes are revered, and Elvis Presley is as big as America itself.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A pretty good read... but once is enough, May 6, 2001
By 
Zachary Gore (Redmond, WA USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Biggest Elvis (Paperback)
I am a sophomore in high school, so for some people my opinion is not entirely valid. However, if you too are in high school you should pay attention to this review. The novel lacks a certain hooking plot that most students our age need in order to keep reading. It starts very slowly, but if you stick with it, it turns out to be fairly interesting. There are books that are much better in my opinion.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Almost a classic..., June 10, 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: Biggest Elvis (Paperback)
This is a thoroughly enjoyable novel, well written with right-on accurate descriptions of Olongapo and the Pacific Rim islands. It is a uniquely narrated, multi-faceted story that rides a roller coaster of emotions and reveals the love-hate relationship between the U.S. and the people of the Western Pacific. All this plus three Elvises! Who could ask for more?
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Biggest Elvis: A Novel
Biggest Elvis: A Novel by P. F. Kluge (Paperback - September 29, 2009)
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