“ Author: Gail Brewer-Giorgio / Genre: Fiction „
This is the story of a poor boy born in the deep American South in the 1930s, who in the mid-1950s becomes a rock and roll superstar, known as The King Of Rock And Roll.
This is the story of that superstar and how he came to make a series of lightweight fluffy movies, and entered a seemingly endless series of concert tours.
This is the story of that same superstar, who came to both need and hate the worldwide attention he received, who came to both need and hate the demands his fans made of him.
The is the story of that superstar whose death in 1977 rocked the world.
This is the story of Orion Eckley Darnell.
I'm sorry, who? Isn't it the story of Elvis Aron Presley?
No, it's not. You see, what happened was this:
After Elvis died in 1977 the writer Gail Brewer-Giorgio decided that she would write a book based on Elvis' life, but not a biography, but instead a work of fiction, Orion Eckley Darnell. The unique selling point of the book is that the king in fact faked his own death in order to escape his fans and the demands placed upon him. Between writing the novel and its publication the rumours of "Elvis is Alive" began, which helped turn the novel into a worldwide phenomenon, although it is little remembered today.
Brewer-Giorgio takes some liberties with the story - for example the 'Memphis Mafia', Elvis' entourage which consisted of quite a few people, is replaced instead by a single character, Elvis' best friend, Tuck. She also has Orion spend his military service in Hawaii rather than in Germany. In essence however, this is a close account of Elvis' life, and in the absence of a wide range of biographies (at the time of his death only one real worthwhile biography was in print) it made for interesting reading.
Personally, reading the book in 2008 after finally tracking down a copy on ebay, I was disappointed. I had always believed that it was about the character faking his death, and what happens to him next, but this in fact only fills the last few pages of the novel. The rest of the novel is a fictionalised version of Elvis' life as noted above. As such I would probably not have bought it if I had known that the post-death section took up so little of the book.
If you are Elvis fan then this novel is an interesting oddity, but I wouldn't go out of your way to find a copy.