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Black Elvis (Flannery O'Connor Award for Short Fiction)

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Black Elvis (Flannery O'Connor Award for Short Fiction) Cover

 

Review-A-Day

"Becker's characters are each a unique blend of lies and truth, and reading from one story to the next can feel like hopping a train to another part of the world and landing in the open window of a stranger's apartment. These characters may sleep with a best friend's son on a vacation in Santorini or accept a job finishing paintings for a kitsch cowboy artist in Jackson, Wyoming, but wherever they are, they are uncertain if they have made it to the right place." Jasper Lepak, Rain Taxi (read the entire Rain Taxi review)

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

In this funny, touching collection about music, identity, liars, and love, Geoffrey Becker brings us into the lives of people who have come to a turning point and lets us watch as they take, however clumsily, their next steps.

In the title story, an aging black singer who performs only Elvis songs despite his classic bluesman looks has his regular spot at the local blues jam threatened by a newly arrived Asian American with the unlikely name Robert Johnson. In “Man Under,” two friends struggling to be rock musicians in Reagan-era Brooklyn find that their front door has been removed by their landlord. An aspiring writer discovers the afterlife consists of being the stand-in for a famous author on an endless book tour in “Another Coyote Story.” Lonely and adrift in Florence, Italy, a young man poses as a tour guide with an art history degree in “Know Your Saints.” And in “This Is Not a Bar,” a simple night on the town for a middle-aged guitar student and jazz buff turns into a confrontation with his past and an exploration of what is or is not real.

In his depictions of struggling performers, artists, expectant parents, travelers, con-men, temporarily employed academics, and even the recently deceased, Becker asks the question, Which are more important: the stories we tell other people or the ones we tell ourselves?

Review:

"In twelve tightly-coiled stories, Becker (Dangerous Men, Bluestown) mines the thwarted dreams, failed relationships, and wayward lives of chronically luckless characters. The award-winning title story is a good introduction to Becker's work, featuring his recurring muse: the down-and-out musician, in this case an African-American Elvis impersonator upstaged by a Chinese Robert Johnson. 'Another Coyote Story' is narrated by a Native-American writer living in Sherman Alexie's literary shadow. In 'Jimi Hendrix, Blue Grass Star,' a street musician fakes a brain tumor in an effort to woo a beautiful but cold violinist. In 'Santorini,' middle-aged and recently-dumped Laura makes a play for her best friend's much, much younger son. The cumulative effect of these stories is disheartening; protagonists always end up worse off than they were at the story's start. The rewards Becker offers readers take the form of wry humor and the occasional lapse into grace, alongside the more immediate pleasures of 'cigarette and pork grease smell, of cold beers and loud music.'" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

About the Author

"Black Elvis addresses the most potent of the bittersweet mysteries, herein writ right, that animate our condemned kind: family, loyalty, love, religion, memory and love. If there were a short story Hall of Fame, Geoffrey Becker would be installed in its rotundaon the Jumbotron, in fact, keyboard held aloft in much-deserved triumph."--Lee K. Abbott, author of All Things, All at Once: New and Selected Stories
"These are wonderful stories, both humorous and deadly serious, and sometimes with a touch of magic as well. If you think you don't know these charactersin all their variationsyou surely will before you are halfway through a page."--Elizabeth Strout, author of Olive Kitteridge
"Many of the characters in this collection are journeyman musicianshas-beens and never-weresbut make no mistake, Geoffrey Becker is no journeyman himself. He is an artist of the highest order. Without flourish or pretension, Becker delivers these sparkling stories with conviction, verve, and perfect pitch."--Don Lee, author of Wrack and Ruin

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments

Black Elvis

Know Your Saints

Cowboy Honeymoon

This Is Not a Bar

Iowa Winter

Imaginary Tucson

Man Under

Another Coyote Story

Jimi Hendrix, Bluegrass Star

Santorini

The Naked Man

Product Details

ISBN:
9780820334103
Author:
Becker, Geoffrey
Publisher:
University of Georgia Press
Subject:
Short Stories (single author)
Subject:
Stories (single author)
Subject:
Literature-A to Z
Edition Description:
Trade Cloth
Series:
Flannery O'Connor Award for Short Fiction
Publication Date:
20091031
Binding:
Paperback
Language:
English
Pages:
192
Dimensions:
8.5 x 5.5 in

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Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z

Black Elvis (Flannery O'Connor Award for Short Fiction) New Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$31.25 Backorder
Product details 192 pages University of Georgia Press - English 9780820334103 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "In twelve tightly-coiled stories, Becker (Dangerous Men, Bluestown) mines the thwarted dreams, failed relationships, and wayward lives of chronically luckless characters. The award-winning title story is a good introduction to Becker's work, featuring his recurring muse: the down-and-out musician, in this case an African-American Elvis impersonator upstaged by a Chinese Robert Johnson. 'Another Coyote Story' is narrated by a Native-American writer living in Sherman Alexie's literary shadow. In 'Jimi Hendrix, Blue Grass Star,' a street musician fakes a brain tumor in an effort to woo a beautiful but cold violinist. In 'Santorini,' middle-aged and recently-dumped Laura makes a play for her best friend's much, much younger son. The cumulative effect of these stories is disheartening; protagonists always end up worse off than they were at the story's start. The rewards Becker offers readers take the form of wry humor and the occasional lapse into grace, alongside the more immediate pleasures of 'cigarette and pork grease smell, of cold beers and loud music.'" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review A Day" by , "Becker's characters are each a unique blend of lies and truth, and reading from one story to the next can feel like hopping a train to another part of the world and landing in the open window of a stranger's apartment. These characters may sleep with a best friend's son on a vacation in Santorini or accept a job finishing paintings for a kitsch cowboy artist in Jackson, Wyoming, but wherever they are, they are uncertain if they have made it to the right place." (read the entire Rain Taxi review)
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