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Losing Graceland: A Novel Paperback – January 4, 2011

3.9 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In his fair-to-middling sophomore effort, Nathan (Gods of Aberdeen) resurrects Elvis Presley--or a bloated old man named John Barrow who wants to be the king--and follows him from his suburban Buffalo, N.Y., hideout to Memphis, Tenn., where he hopes to find and liberate his estranged, illegitimate granddaughter, Nadine Emma Brown, recently reported as missing. Though the quick narrative slips into "the old man's" point of view at irregular intervals, most of the narrative is channeled through the perceptions of Ben Fish, the 21-year-old anthropology major Elvis hires to drive him cross-country. Ben is reeling from the death of his father and the loss of his "hot" girlfriend, and goes along for the promised ,000, which will fund his dream of moving to Amsterdam. The duo's adventures--brawling with the biker gang Hell's Foster Children, competing in Elvis impersonator contests, visiting hillbilly oracles--are entertaining, but it's the old man's battle with his ailing body, pain pill addiction, and legacy that will leave readers wishing for more from a novel that travels too much through the light terrain of Ben's insubstantial struggles with growing up. (Jan.) (c)
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From Booklist

Ben Fish has recently graduated with a degree in anthropology, undying love for his high-school-aged ex-girlfriend Jess, who broke up with him six months ago, and no plans for how to spend his summer. To avoid another season working a dead-end job at the local mall, he responds to a newspaper ad from one John Barrow, who is looking for a driver on short notice. John hires Ben to drive him to Memphis, 900 miles away, in search of his granddaughter Nadine. Their trip quickly turns into a capriciously epic journey as John, who claims to be, and for all purposes seems to actually be, Elvis Presley, takes them on detours to fight with biker gangs, visit an oracle, and save a hooker named Ginger from her one-eyed pimp. Nathan presents the reader with several fantastic characters in this rollicking, adventurous tale. Readers will pore through this fast-paced, adrenaline-filled novel and eat up the fantastic dialogue that brings Elvis back to life in a new, deliciously lascivious way. --Julie Hunt
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 211 pages
  • Publisher: Broadway Books (January 4, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307591352
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307591357
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.5 x 7.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #450,277 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Micah Nathan's works have been translated into seven languages, and include the bestselling novels Gods of Aberdeen (Simon & Schuster, 2005), and Losing Graceland (Random House, 2011), along with the collection Jack the Bastard and Other Stories (One Peace Books, 2012). He received his MFA from Boston University, where he won the 2010 Saul Bellow Prize for Fiction. His essays have won an Associated Press Award, and his short stories have been finalists for the Tobias Wolff Award and the Innovative Fiction Award.

Micah is a frequent contributor to Vanity Fair, and his essays and short stories have appeared in the Paris Review, The Best American Mystery Stories, Boston Globe Magazine, Glimmer Train, Free Inquiry, Gettysburg Review, and others.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition
A superbly-written book, following the adventures of a young man and a might-be Elvis as they drive from Western New York to Memphis, in search of the King's missing granddaughter. I admit I was surprised--from the description (and the cover) I was expecting a light read, but I was not prepared for the emotional resonance of "the old man" and how he handles what appears to be a lifetime of crushing regret. Ben (the young man) provides the balance in this story, as he has hopes and dreams (going to Amsterdam, reuniting with his girlfriend) and the interplay between the old man and Ben is pitch-perfect. A fun, fast, surprising read.
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Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This book is what I would refer to as madcap and at times quite hilarious. I'll skip the plot spoilers and tell you that if you are a fan of Elvis, you should surely read this. If you are a big fan of Tod Goldberg, again you might want to read this. I hate to compare authors that way, but Micah Nathan is quite the oddball writer. Oddball in this case being a great thing. This author is just wildly talented in the fact that his writing is his own. What I mean by that statement is to say that he has his own style and has nearly created his own genre here. After reading this one, I did some googling research and found out that he won the 2010 Saul Bellow Prize in Fiction. This is not at all a surprising finding for me.

I'm almost always the type of reader that falls for plot, humor, or characters that I find interesting. This one has a lot of the latter but also the 2 former as well. I didn't expect to like it. I'm not a big time Elvis fan. But I loved it because I am a big "well written, interesting characters" admirer.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
"Losing Graceland" is like other great art in that it works on many levels. On the one hand, it's simply a great read. While reading it, I hadn't slept more than four hours straight in about a year, and even so, it kept me up at night. The story is that good. And the writing itself is beautiful; reading it was like eating caviar in bed. On the other hand, without being clunky or indulging in obtrusive, shoe-horned digressions, the novel deftly addresses deeper themes of ambition, fame, hero worship, and personal destruction. Oh -- and another thing -- it's funny. Wickedly, twistedly funny.
"Losing Graceland" is an odd, surprising, captivating, and happily unique book, and one that lovers of fiction will surely appreciate.
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Format: Paperback
Took some liberties, this author has; but Hotdam he has made them work!

Life makes us judgemental and life isn't always black and white. Grief is the most difficult personal journey you will ever have to take. You will learn much about your loved ones that you never dreamed possible once they have 'passed on'; and you will even learn a few things about yourself. Our loved ones put themselves out there for us and they make their mistakes just to help us to learn how not to make our own!

Take the time to 'read between the lines' to what Mr. Nathan is saying and you will get it!!!

Hat's off to Mr. Nathan

Rev. Elisabeth
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Format: Paperback
I liked it but the ending was very disappointing for me. I mean what happen to "the old man"(Elvis)?! Where did he go that night and how?! The man was broken and high. And the less then half ditch effort to reach Nadine. I mean just the one failed try and that's it.
Also with Ben, great he makes it to Amsterdam but with what money, are you telling me he actually sold that buckle!? That's wrong and disloyal I feel that he is made out to sound like a true blue loser. I mean spending his days in a hash cafe. That shows he learned nothing from his time spent with Elvis. And it ends with him on the phone with that girl. So does he see her, she come to Amsterdam...??? WHAT?!
I know it sounds like I hated it and have a lot of complaints, granted I do, but I didn't hate it. I liked it. I just wish I got more closure on the characters.
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Format: Paperback
"Losing Graceland," the sophomore effort from Micah Nathan, is a finely-tuned, focused and utterly charming little novel. Themes of grief, hope, and nostalgia hit hard amidst the easy-to-love characters, which, of course, may or may not include the King himself.

The story follows recent college grad Ben Fish, a young man struggling with the recent tragic death of his ever-present father and the end of his relationship with his vapid young sweetheart, Jessica. Ben, desperate for purpose, adventure and cold hard cash, answers an want-ad posted by the old man, the novel's other main point of view. The two set off from Cheektowaga, New York to Memphis, Tennessee, ostensibly to rescue the old man's granddaughter who has gone missing.

What follows is a road-trip of cinematic character, and Nathan's efficiency with language keeps the story moving as fast (but not nearly as recklessly) as his characters. Along the way, the reader develops (along with Ben), a kind of "Elvis-o-meter," that is, we begin to believe, only to have that belief waver before it picks up again, that the old man is a still-living Elvis Presley. This belief is bolstered by the old man's charismatic interactions with the myriad players the unlikely duo encounter on their journey (biker gangs, pimps, and backwoods oracles, anyone?), as well as his superb karaoke skills. Ben immerses himself in the journey, despite his wavering belief, and the journey becomes more important to his personal (and sexual!) salvation than any destination could be.

"Graceland's" finishing sequences happen fast and are packed with meaning, and any reader with half a heart will naturally be clamoring for more time spent with Ben and the old man.
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