Today is Elvis's 75th birthday, or would be if he wasn't dead, although I suppose it's still his birthday even if he's not around to enjoy it. Today is also the day I finished reading Simon Crump's My Elvis Blackout. That's one of those coincidences you blow your friends' minds with, that is.
My Elvis Blackout is a compendium of alternate-world Elvises. Elvis as serial killer, Elvis as celebrity chef, Elvis as subservient Yorkshire husband and scale-modeling enthusiast. Someone on Amazon suggests that this book is "almost impossible to describe it without making it sound like one of the worst books in the world". I don't know that that's exactly true - I mean, it sounded good enough to me that I went and bought it - but it is a very unusual book. The guiding principle seems to be that Elvis's life was absurd, so why not take it even further? Hence this is not the book for the die-hard Elvis fan, unless said die-hard Elvis fan likes imagining Elvis doing things like slashing people with a swordstick or playing at bank robbers with Roy Orbison or being a cannibal.
Bits of My Elvis Blackout are funny but I found that the humour wore off after the first few vignettes. Crump's compact, surreal narratives hit with too much force to sustain laughter, which is not to say that they don't inspire a good deal of incredulous snorting, outraged guffawing and archetype-skewering ironic grins. Which, in other words, means it's completely ott and brilliant.
Neverland, Crump's take on Michael Jackson, arrived in my letter box the other day. From what I have read of it it appears to be in a similar vein to My Elvis Blackout only leaner, weirder, nastier.
Simon Crump's next book is going to be about Zola and he has a blog here.