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Elvis in the Morning

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 23, 2005

    Politically Correct

    What is it about the King that fills a niche for Mr. Buckley? After all, Elvis had no interest in politics. The novel opens in West Germany. Fictitious schoolboy Orson Killere, the protagonist, lives there with his widowed American mother, who works at a U.S. Army base. When Orson watches Elvis make his television debut in 1956, Orson becomes captivated. The lesson Elvis imparts unto Orson is: do what you believe is right and ignore the establishment naysayers. Orson is also strongly influenced by his teacher, who is a socialist. Then, in 1959, when fourteen year old Orson decides that Elvis¿ music is common property like the air and the water, he breaks into the Army base¿s PX and steals the Elvis acetates. Orson gets caught and a judge sentences him to a month without Elvis¿ music. When G.I. Elvis learns about the incident, he decides to meet his young fan. Orson subsequently introduces Elvis to his Elvis Presley Fan Club co-president, Priscilla Beaulieu. It is then that a lifelong friendship between Orson, Elvis, and Priscilla develops. The story chronicles the true milestones in Elvis¿ life through Orson¿s eyes. In 1959, Orson and Elvis return to the United States, where they pursue the next phase of their respective lives; Elvis¿ career in the movies and Orson¿s education at the University of Michigan. However, the friends remain in touch. Orson¿s anti-capitalist predilections resurface at U of M, where he organizes a student protest that leads to his expulsion. Consequently, Orson becomes a drifter. After a series of unfortunate events, Orson meets the powers that be of an emerging computer giant company, who offer him gainful employment and tuition to attend university. Orson ultimately gets caught up in the drug culture of the 60¿s. He successfully goes through rehabilitation and tries to save Elvis from his substance abuse. While Orson¿s character was vivid, the depth of the real characters fell short. The book would have been more credible if the virtues and foibles of these people had been captured. For the average reader who is not knowledgeable about the Greek-tragedy like life of Elvis and its ramifications, the book lacks emotion and power. However, what I particularly love is the political spin. As an ardent fan of Elvis, I have always vocalized that it was he who single-handedly refaced the landscape of pop culture, and did so in the most ingenuous way. It was his very innocence, talent and charisma that empowered him to mainstream Rock and Roll, largely an African American invention, into postwar, pronuclear, prejudiced America. Elvis made it acceptable for one to be a non-conformist, different and unconventional. This revolution ultimately led to the breakdown of socioeconomic and racial barriers such as: the challenging of authority, war protests, desegregation, women¿s liberation, etc. Therefore, Elvis was not just an entertainer and was indeed much more of a political influence than we realize. Hence, Mr. Buckley could not have been more politically correct than to have written Elvis in the Morning.

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