‘Elvis: Fat, Fucked Up Fool’ by Simon Crump

The One Which Makes Most Sense in Context: 

Broadly, I don’t have much time for realism in short stories. To be honest, I don’t have much time for it in real life either. I get why a novel might need to be, to some extent, grounded. To follow certain, accepted rules of character and plot. You’re asking people to invest a significant amount of their time and attention, you don’t want to take the piss. But when you’re only borrowing 10 minutes of someone’s day, why not shoot for the moon? And when you collect a bunch of short stories together into a themed collection…

‘My Elvis Blackout’ is a very odd book about fame and celebrity that manages to find something new to say about one of our most overexposed and exhausted icons (Crump pulled the same trick with 2007’s ‘Neverland’, about Michael Jackson), via surreal weirdness, extreme violence (some of it featuring Chris de Burgh), dark comedy (some of it featuring Chris de Burgh), and surprising moments of pathos.

Sometimes it wobbles, and you almost, almost think Crump is just taking the piss, but then…

His greatest fear was of being poor and he dwelled upon it constantly. He took handfuls of jewels and cash into the backyard at Graceland and buried them – little treasures to call upon should he suddenly find himself penniless. The guys would watch Elvis digging in the dark. He cut a pathetic figure as he grunted and sweated over a growing heap of earth, and they would laugh to see his white jump-suit soiled with mud, and thy would laugh as this very sad, but nevertheless highly entertaining creature trying to ward off his worst nightmare, and the would laugh and laugh and laugh until the tears ran down their bloated piggy faces and down their fat pink cheeks and into their fancy silk shirts which Elvis had brought them all from Lansky Brothers, because he loved them so…

(in My Elvis Blackout, Bloomsbury, 2001)

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