Stephen King: "Mark Childress's novel, TENDER, is a little more than just a fine novel; it is a big, all-American, Technicolor dreamboat of a book, as vital and as intense as anything I've read in the last 10 years. Childress's understanding and love of this new music lends Tender the sort of piney woods authenticity I associate with such American classics as Elmer Gantry and...
Stephen King: "Mark Childress's novel, TENDER, is a little more than just a fine novel; it is a big, all-American, Technicolor dreamboat of a book, as vital and as intense as anything I've read in the last 10 years. Childress's understanding and love of this new music lends Tender the sort of piney woods authenticity I associate with such American classics as Elmer Gantry and All The King's Men."
Tender is the novel of the greatest rock-and-roll star the world has ever seen. It's so intimate and so powerful a story, it has to be fiction.
This is the story of Leroy Kirby, a poor white boy from Tupelo, Mississippi, who moves to Memphis, finds his voice, and transforms himself -- in one remarkable year -- from a guitar-picking truck driver to the most famous rock-and-roll singer in the world. It is one of America's essential and enduring legends, brought to life through the imagination of a superb novelist.
Reading Tender, you experience Leroy Kirby's life from the inside. His hard childhood with his daddy away in prison. His adoring, overprotective mother. The sudden metamorphosis of tender young Leroy into the bad-looking boy with wild clothes and the duck's-ass pompadour. The early recording sessions, the stunning overnight success, the sharp-eyed manager who takes Leroy under his wing. The first tastes of the alcohol and drugs that will one day consume his life. The hysteria of thousands of screaming, swooning girls. And, as the novel closes, you see the end of Leroy's glory years, as he is publicly, humiliatingly shorn for induction into the Army.
Mark Childress has written three wonderful books in a row, but Tender is by far his best. He takes myth, dream, and music and turns them into something miraculous, dazzling. It will be one of the year's most widely praised novels.
Mark Childress has revivified Elvis Presley as Leroy Kirby, a brilliantly realized fictional character...He redeems the biographical novel as an art form...(and) imagines a world that is deliciously claustrophobic and self-contained, yet startlingly real and irresistible...Whether Elvis lives is a moot question in the face of Tender. Leroy Kirby lives, anyway, and Childress makes him sing.
Los Angeles Times
An evocation of an American phenomenon...Childress gets everything right. Tender carries Leroy down destiny's highway with the easy power of a gas-guzzling V-8. And once you're snuggled down in the leatherette upholstery, you don't want to stop.
Even if Elvis Presley had never existed, Tender would still be a great novel.
Newsday Long Island, NY
Tender may be hailed as a revelation...Leroy's story is so moving, so exciting, and ultimately so sad because it is so American. Seldom has the written word so evocatively captured the thrill of the days when rock and roll was inventing itself. Childress has imagined his story with sensitivity and insight, and for that anyone who cares about American culture must be grateful.