Dennis van Tiel, publisher of the Dutch magazine Almost In Elvis, wrote a historical novel based on the life of Elvis Presley: Jaarringen van een koning (Growth rings of a King).
The hardcover book of 270+ pages is very sturdy and has a beautiful lay out. It is good to have a real bound reading book in ones hands every now and then.
As said, the book tells the story of the 42 years Elvis was on this planet (supposedly). Not only Elvis’ life is described in a mixture between fact and fiction, but also that of a lot of other people and even a dog. Some of them are famous for themselves, some just as part of an event, but all are intriguing.
Every chapter has the same structure a header that tells the year, startlocation (birthplace of the main character) and a destination (where the chapter took place). Then a keyword for the chapter is given in the way of a dictionary. A warning is in place: this book has product placement. Every chapter starts with an advertisement for the biography of former Dutch queen Wilhelmina: Eenzaam maar niet alleen (Lonely but not alone).
Most of the chapters are accompanied by a poem, which is not my cup of tea (nor a piece of cake), but I tried to read them and recognized translated (Elvis)-lyrics in some of them.
The chapters are decorated with pictures (most often newspaper clippings) in a stencil way.
Those that were looking for a straightforward book about Elvis are coming home from a cold carnival as we say in The Netherlands. He pops up in every chapter, but the main part is, as said, about other people. Famous ones like Jesse Owens, Hitler, Gandhi, Hank Williams and Bobby Fisher to name a few. Also people that were ‘just’ part of an event like the Hindenburg crash or the attack on Pearl Harbour get a chapter, and even a dog (Laika) gets one. I don’t know if it says something about the author that the ‘invention’ of LSD gets about the largest chapter.
In order not to totally disappoint us, the Elvis-fans, one chapter is completely dedicated to Elvis, 1973 with keyword ‘Satellite’.
The fact that reading the book took me longer than a book of this size normally does says something about the things I have at hand at the moment, but also about the book itself. I found myself googling, often ending up in Wikipedia (like the author did) to find out more about the people that are touched in the book. I have to admit that I always liked history and I used to have this habit in the past too. When I still collected stamps, I ended up in real encyclopedias often.
For the average Elvis fan this book might be a bridge too far, but I wish it was available in English for those fans that do have a wider view. I really, really enjoyed it from the first page to the last.