Elvis in the Morning

Elvis in the Morning

3.0 1
by William F. Buckley Jr., Lloyd James

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This is a novel about friendship, a novel that spans the decades that changed America forever.

Orson is a young boy whose mother works at a U.S. Army base in Germany in the 1950s. There, he becomes a fan of a G.I. stationed at the base, one Elvis Presley, whose music is played over and over on the radio. When Orson is caught stealing recordings of Elvis's tunes


This is a novel about friendship, a novel that spans the decades that changed America forever.

Orson is a young boy whose mother works at a U.S. Army base in Germany in the 1950s. There, he becomes a fan of a G.I. stationed at the base, one Elvis Presley, whose music is played over and over on the radio. When Orson is caught stealing recordings of Elvis's tunes from the PX, the attendant publicity catches the star's attention, and he comes to visit his young fan. Thus begins a lifelong friendship. As Elvis's career rockets ever higher and his behavior becomes ever more erratic, the two share many adventures. The sixties explode, and Elvis becomes the icon of the nation, while Orson, a college demonstrator, drifts away from regular life while looking for something of substance to believe in. Each man is an emblem of his time, as social conventions crumble, barriers fall, and the cultural landscape changes forever.

A panorama of change and dissent, of the ability of friends to stay true despite distance and time, Elvis in the Morning portrays a nation in change and the effects of celebrity on innocence. 5-5/16 X 8.

Editorial Reviews

Orson Killere, a principled child whose mother works at Camp Pershing, the United States Army base outside Wiesbaden, Germany, becomes, at the age of eleven, such a relentless Elvis fan that he steals a handful of the King's records from the base. This is a robbery quixotic enough to make headlines, and thus prompts a visit from Elvis himself, who is doing his military service during the late '50s in Germany. The lifelong friendship that ensues is the central element of Buckley's canny fourteenth novel, which sparkles with the borrowed allure of charismatic, real-life figures rather than the insights of fiction. But unless readers are indifferent to the truth or have an encyclopedic knowledge of Elvis' life, they must suffer through the continual annoyance of having to guess whether various incidents—such as Elvis' purchase of six Lincoln Continentals for various friends—are fact, fantasy or some combination of both. To spice up the action, there is also the stir and bustle of drug use and political protest, as Orson comes of age in the 1960s. Implausibly, given his political beliefs, Orson is given a staunchly conservative girlfriend named Susan, who leads him on a pilgrimage to Sen. Barry Goldwater's house a few weeks after his bid for the presidency. The best part of the book deals with Orson's childhood in Camden, South Carolina, and in Wiesbaden; before Elvis comes into view, there is a sweetness and genuineness of emotion that makes Orson and his relationship with his sensible, affectionate mother a pleasure.
—Penelope Mesic

(Excerpted Review)
Publishers Weekly
One might expect pundit and bestselling author Buckley (Spytime; Elvis in the Morning) to offer a revisionist take on the Nuremberg trials, filtered through his uniquely erudite conservative consciousness. But there's little that's fresh or unconventional in his description of a seminal moment in the history of war crimes prosecution. There's some sniping at the Soviet Union, which Buckley deems wholly ill-equipped to render judgment on any other nation's brutality and genocidal machinations. There are also a few intriguing tangents about the theatrical properties of the tribunal, and the fact that Allied legal minds were essentially making up the rules as they went along, since they were on such unprecedented ground. Buckley's protagonist, Sebastian Reinhard, is unusually well equipped to understand the proceedings: a German-born American officer who eventually discovers that he's part-Jewish, Reinhard lost a father to the Nazi war machine and witnessed the carnage that Hitler's megalomania had wrought. Acting as an interpreter for prosecutors at the trials, he is thrust into close contact with one of the defendants, camp commandant Kurt Waldemar Amadeus, and is shocked by the man's cold-blooded lack of conscience. Buckley's writing is serviceable throughout, if lacking his usual polysyllabic exuberance, but his characters are flat and featureless. In the end, his feel for the historical significance of the Nuremberg trials exceeds his ability to spin engrossing fiction out of them. Agent, Lois Wallace. (June) Forecast: Buckley's fame guarantees plenty of review attention. WWII buffs and hardcore Buckley fans will account for the bulk of sales. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
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. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 3/1/01.] Nancy Pearl, Washington Ctr. for the Book, Seattle Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
The fresh and amusing, if somewhat unfocused, story of an idealistic young man's lifelong friendship with the King of Rock 'n' Roll. The storyline on surface seems to have sprung from the mind of some unreconstructed, wacked-out liberal like Tom Robbins than by archconservative pundit and spy novelist Buckley (Spytime, 2000, etc.). Orson Killere is a bright lad who spent his childhood years on an army base in West Germany during the 1950s, his mother a general's personnel administrator. Even though he's extremely studious and not much for playing around, Orson does delight in one rather serious obsession: Elvis Presley. Misinterpreting the social utopian views about private property from one of his teachers, Orson decides that the entire world should have access to Elvis records. When he's apprehended by the police for stealing Elvis records from the PX, the story makes the Stars and Stripes and so impresses Private Presley (stationed nearby) that he shows up at Orson's house and treats him to a private concert. From then on, Orson and the King are fast and improbable friends. Buckley wisely refuses to play up the kitsch value, sticking to a generous portrayal of Elvis as a decent-enough, albeit delusional, musical genius who goes nowhere without his close coterie of advisors and friends (the "Memphis Mafia") but will drop everything to have a long chat on the phone with Orson, wherever and whenever. Through all of Orson's misadventures around the country-he's expelled from a university for protesting, rides the rails through the West, even meets Barry Goldwater briefly-the tone is inconsistent and spotty. Often, just when you feel as if you might be getting to know the protagonist,a phone call comes from one of the Memphis Mafia and Elvis takes the stage again. Too strange for fans of Buckley's Blackford Oakes series ("A Very Private Plot", 1994, etc.) and not Elvis-centered enough to please his vast fandom, but it'd be a shame if a story this unpredictable and fun fell through the cracks.
From the Publisher


"This is a low-key pleasure of a read, a nostalgic take that eschews mush and a heartfelt tribute to the tragic figure who touched so many lives."--Publishers Weekly (boxed)
"(A) quirky look at the life of Elvis and at an American era."--The New York Daily News
"There are rich veins to mine just below the surface of this fairy tale. The author merges fictional characters with historical figures and events reminiscent of E.L. Doctorow's Ragtime."--The Tennessean
"It's gripping, stylish, funny, and moving. Who knows? Rolling Stone might even have to acknowledge its excellence."--The Oxford American
"(A) canny fourteenth novel, which sparkles with the borrowed allure of charismatic, real-life figures."--Book


"The ultimate in spy novels--with real characters and studied speculation on certain events by Buckley, who met many of the key players-this is a tense, heroic tale of a real Cold War legend."--The New York Daily News
"Spytime is a quiet-time read for those who like their espionage erudite and their intelligence intelligent."--USA Today

Product Details

Blackstone Audio, Inc.
Publication date:
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
6.20(w) x 6.70(h) x 1.90(d)

Meet the Author

William F. Buckley Jr. is the founder of the National Review and was the host of what was television's longest-running program, Firing Line. The author of thirteen other novels, many of them bestsellers, he lives in Connecticut.

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Elvis In The Morning 3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.