Elvis By The Presleys
Author: David Ritz (editor) Publisher: Century ISBN: 1-8441-3841-0 (hardback, 240 pp.)
There is little doubt that ”Elvis By The Presleys” is a well made book and it has an attractive cover.
The photographs have been well reproduced, although it is a shame that each chapter is introduced by introductory text that is set in a very large typeface with a total lack of leading (space between lines), making the texts appear to be a jumble of letters and difficult to read this is a very poor layout design technique.
The title gives the impression that the book is a look at Elvis by others of the Presley family in a broad sense this is perhaps true, but really it’s just a crafty marketing use of Elvis’ and the Presley names in the same title.
Only two Presleys actually feature: Patsy Presley (Elvis’s cousin) and Lisa-Marie Presley.
Elvis is occasionally quoted, but only rarely. The other contributors are of the Beaulieu family: Priscilla, Ann (Priscilla’s mother), Paul (her father), and Michelle (her sister). The book could, then, have been more correctly titled, ”Elvis By The Beaulieus”, but this would not have attracted the same interest.
These individuals referred to in the book as ”witnesses” for some reason, fill the space between the many illustrations that are contained in the book, with their comments on various aspects of Elvis and his lifestyle.
There are no great revelations, or anything particularly new at all from these ”intimate stories”, as the cover refers to them. Priscilla’s comments are no different to the one’s made in her previous book ”Elvis & Me”. The comments by the other witnesses seem to be there only to assure the reader that Elvis was an extremely polite young man (well, we knew that), but , more importantly, that he was a Christian.
Indeed, this seems to be the main point of the book, and the premise is reinforced by several photos of bibles and a prayer-book.
To be fair, the book does try to introduce the idea that Elvis was something of a lost soul, trying to find his way. Unfortunately, the space devoted to such text is so limited that this opening is insufficiently explored.
As for the illustrations, they well reproduced. Although the photos that feature Elvis are already well known to fans, having been reproduced in a number of publications before. Many of the photos seem irrelevant and their is no reason at all for some of the photos that take up full pages: a single bullet (enlarged to fill a whole page), a book of matches from the Hotel Sahara; Minnie Mae’s spectacles, and a number of others, beg the question, why?. Other photos certainly do have relevance: Gladys’s jewellery box is show and, instead of containing items made of precious metals or gemstones, it displays many probably cheap trinkets associated with her famous son.
Sadly, the editing seems to be not completed as surely Priscilla should have noticed that the photo on page 85, which is captioned, ”Priscilla and Vernon in front of Graceland,” actually shows Priscilla and her own father.
All in all, ”Elvis By The Presleys” is not badly produced it has, a few interesting photos, and quite a few irrelevant ones.