A piece of Presley


by Dylan Jones

Bloomsbury, $29.99 pb, 312 pp, 9780715648568

Usually the subject’s death signals the end of a biography, but for Dylan Jones it is the starting point. Three decades after his death in 1977, Elvis Presley has proven even more ubiquitous, and lucrative, than he was in life. When he died – with the official cause listed as heart failure, but a vast cocktail of drugs playing an undeniable role – his manager, ‘Colonel’ Tom Parker, declared, ‘Why, I’ll go right on managing him.’ And from there Parker helped set the template for a superstar entertainer’s posthumous success.

But that’s not all that Jones, who is Editor of GQ, is interested in here. In truth, it can be difficult to pin down just what he is trying to add to the oversaturated conversation about Presley. Elvis Has Left the Building bears the tagline ‘The extraordinary story of how the rock star who changed everything lives on’, yet Jones takes a more roundabout approach in this book. Jones is a sharp and affable writer, but the book has little in the way of sustained focus. He flits between various themes and anecdotes, and even dips in and out of autobiography.

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Published in September 2014 no. 364
Doug Wallen

Doug Wallen

Doug Wallen is a freelance arts writer based in Beechworth, Victoria.

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