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In life, Elvis Presley went from childhood poverty to stardom, from world fame to dissipation and early death. As Greil Marcus shows in this remarkable book, Presley's journey after death takes him even further, pushing him beyond his own frontiers to merge with the American public consciousness—and the American subconscious.
As he listens in on the public conversation that recreates Elvis after death, Marcus tracks the path of Presley's resurrection. He grafts together scattered fragments of the eclectic dialogue—snatches of movies and music, books and newspapers, photographs, posters, cartoons—and amazes us with not only what America has been saying as it raises its late king, but also what this strange obsession with a dead Elvis can tell us about America itself.
An absorbing and eye-opening meditation on Elvis Presley's life--since his death. In 18 essays illustrated with more than 60 photos and line drawings, Marcus shows how Elvis remains alive in the cultural imagination of our place and time, and how the King's vitality has intensified in direct proportion to the obsession with his memory.
The evidence Marcus has gathered suggests that Presley's posthumous appeal has to do with our ferocious ambivalence toward him, a blend of worship and revulsion, obeisance and revolutionary desire. Sympathetically despising what Presley became, everyone is now in on—not the joke, but the remaking of their world.
— Eric Lott
Marcus's rapt attention to what Elvis continues to mean is both transmitted and justified in a splendid piece of critical art ... a marvelous and profane book about a cultural symbol of cultural symbol-making.
— David Foster Wallace
Marcus shows that the rupture that was Elvis in 1954-57 lives on, below and above ground, glowing in grotesque and still dangerous half-life.
— W.T. Lhamon, Jr.