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Elvis in the Morning Paperback – June 3, 2002

3.8 out of 5 stars 18 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Departing from his National Review persona and his spy master series, the erudite Buckley (Spytime) concocts a charmingly sympathetic tale tracing the fictional relationship between a young boy and the King. Buckley captures the hope, the yearning, the magic and pathos of the '50s and'60s as few authors have in this Almost Famous-like reflection on two turbulent decades. Orson Killere is 14 when his socialist convictions get him caught stealing Elvis albums from the U.S. Army base PX in Wiesbaden where his widowed mom works for the base commander. Obsessed with the King's music, Orson and his girlfriend, Priscilla Beaulieu, suffer mightily when the judge puts Elvis recordings off-limits. Then, miraculously, Elvis himself, hearing of the sentence and stationed nearby, shows up one morning and sings to Orson in his kitchen. Priscilla is called over and Presley, smitten with the 14-year-old girl, makes plans to marry her and enlists Orson as lifelong confidante. As time goes by, Elvis leaves the army and his film career takes off; Orson starts an SDS-type group and gets kicked out of college at the height of the '60s; and Priscilla strikes a deal with her parents, living at Graceland until she can marry Elvis. The well-worn contours of Elvis's story take on a fresh sharpness when subjected to Buckley's surprisingly tender treatment. This is a low-key pleasure of a read, a nostalgic tale that eschews mush and a heartfelt tribute to the tragic figure who touched so many lives. (July)Forecast: Buckley springs a pleasant surprise on readers with this novel. Reviews, major advertising and promotion, author appearances and perhaps mentions in the punditry circles Buckley frequents will attract interest, and a promotion at the annual Elvis festival in Tupelo, Miss., in August will alert hardcore Elvis fans.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Fast on the heels of Spytime, National Review founder and former Firing Line host Buckley presents his 14th novel. This lackluster affair is filled with so little energy that one suspects that the author was as bored as his readers will be. Orson Killere, whose widowed mother works at the military base in Wiesbaden, Germany, in the 1950s, becomes a fan of Elvis Presley. When 15-year-old Orson gets caught stealing Elvis's latest album from the base's PX, Presley (stationed nearby) comes to Orson's home to meet him and his closest friend (and fellow Elvis fanatic), 14-year-old Priscilla Beaulieu, with whom Elvis falls instantly in love. Although their lives inevitably veer off in different directions, Orson remains Elvis's one true fan (and we know what happened to Priscilla). It's hard to imagine someone making Elvis and the 1960s and 1970s uninteresting, but Buckley succeeds beyond all reasonable expectations. Buy only for demand, and then sparingly.
- Nancy Pearl, Washington Ctr. for the Book, Seattle
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 348 pages
  • Publisher: Harvest Books; 1 edition (June 3, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0156007541
  • ISBN-13: 978-0156007542
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.3 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,424,022 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By John Standiford VINE VOICE on December 7, 2001
Format: Hardcover
There are times when people take things too seriously. Buckley writing a novel about Elvis Presley! Must be some deep thinking going on here. According to my conservative local newspaper, this was quite an exceptional book that saluted Elvis' achievement but juxtaposed it with his demise in hedonistic behavior.
I don't think so.
A cute story that is imminently readable from page one. Most literate people will find this an easy book to read thanks to main character Orson. Orson's childhood friend eventually goes on to become Priscilla, however the main interest in the book is Elvis's friendship with Orson.
Far too many of the reviews have tried to find deep meaning in this book and have taken Buckley to task for not developing characters enough or having more meaning in the book and I think the criticism is unfair.
This is not a serious book that can be considered grand literature. It's an entertaining book with a cute story that is kind of tribute to Elvis while also lamenting what might have been if it wasn't for his excesses. Reading this book will not change your world or provide you with great inspiration or insight. On the other hand, it will make a cross country flight or a rainy day go by a lot easier.
In short, I don't recommend this as a must-read book, but if you like Buckley, or Elvis, or if you are looking for a quick, light read, go ahead and read it.
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By A Customer on June 28, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Pretty good. Well-written (we expect that from Buckley), nicely even breezily plotted, fast-moving.
Not like reading Greil Marcus or Peter Guralnick, but then it's not intended to be; it's a novel, not an analysis. It's the story of a young man, Orson who is a dedicated Elvis fan and a socialist who believes in common property, who strikes up a relationship with Elvis while in his teens that lasts until the singer's death. The book is about their relationship, and other relationships in Orson's life; and while ideas enter into the book, it is not properly a book about ideas. There is an interesting twist on the notion of common property that comes forward with Elvis' death.
Buckley clearly believes in Presley's genius, knows and loves the songs, understands the career. Does he present new ideas about why or how Elvis decided to throw it all away into drugs at the end? Not really; Buckley's Elvis is a man who gets entangled in drugs and can't and doesn't seem to want to get out. The tragedy is presented as the tragedy of a man, and the waste of a genius, rather than as--for example--something that Elvis' genius pushed him into, or Elvis' way of coping with his misunderstood genius. Buckley's is a fair treatment, and may turn out in the end to be more correct than other more highfaulitin approaches to the Elvis tragedy.
The novel is good, highly recommended. The people are believable, most of the information correct. My one reservation: I wish that Buckley's treatment of Elvis was a little more earth-shattering.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have quite an extensive collection of books about Evis and am thrilled to find so many of Amazon. Most i have found leave the reader with positive good thoughts about Elvis. All have something different and, in my opinion, are well worth the purchase. Apparently there has been an on-going debate about whether Elvis died when the elaborate funeral was aired on TV. It is because of this I wrote a book, a couple of years ago, about my close encounter with him in the early morning of March 12, 1988; many years after it was reported he had died. It was a humongous shock for me and I finally decided to write it for my grandchildren. As well as the book I put it on guitar thumb drives for them. The Title is, 'Don't Cry Darlin' which is what he said to me. He looked just like the Elvis we all saw on TV and still had the beautiful clear blue eyes. He had won his fight with his weight and it was clear he did not have a drug problem....if he ever did. In any case, it is a fun read.
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Format: Hardcover
Elvis In the Morning by William F.Buckley, Jr, is a small masterpiece, in the sense that Colette's Gigi is a small masterpiece. It deserves to be read carefully for the seemless writing and the profound metaphors that are well-concealed so as not to interfere with the pleasure of the read. Orson and his wife must both leave America for Latin America to regain their sanity. Elvis, the victim of American materialism, is destroyed by the leeches who see him as a money-making machine. The meeting with Barry Goldwater is not gratuitous, as some have alleged. Goldwater is a metaphor for integrity, and the young couple are really on a journey looking for authenticity. The decline and destruction of Elvis is told lovingly, but this is also a metaphor for the destruction of an America gone mad with self-indulgence.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
It seems odd that Bill Buckley, who established his formidable reputation over nearly half a century writing as a political philosopher and polemicist, has made a kind of second career for himself as a novelist during the past couple of decades. And what's even odder is the thematic content of his novels, which often seems out of character with what one might anticipate knowing his political pre-occupations. The generosity of spirit with which he presents his characters, even those we expect him to be out of sympathy with, no doubt confounds Buckley's detractors, who like to characterize him as an unfeeling, intellectualizing zealot. Buckley's friends are in some cases probably troubled by the same trait, fretful that the old warrior may be harboring a soft spot. In this light, Elvis in the Morning is Buckley's most surprising book to date, at least among the ones that I 've read. In it, he fashions a relationship between a fictional character, one Orson Killere, and of all people, Elvis Presley. While I found it difficult to see exactly what Buckley was getting at in this novel, it seems to be about innocence, and the tendency of this most endearing of human qualities to turn to self-indulgence and, ultimately, self-destruction. Maybe there's supposed to be a metaphor for America there, but who knows? Orson, the 15-year-old son of a single mother working for the U.S. military in Germany in the mid 1950's, makes the local newspapers by stealing a batch of Elvis records form the PX to give away to the poor. Orson, you see, in addition to being an Elvis devotee, has under the influence of kindly Marxist teacher, become a young socialist. Elvis, who was also in Germany at the time for his stint in the Army, hears about the incident and as a sort of publicity stunt, visits the young fan.Read more ›
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