Trim size: 5.250in x 8.000in
Pub Date: 04/01/2012
List Price: $19.95
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?
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 rotunda-on 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 characters-in all their variations-you surely will before you are halfway through a page.
—Elizabeth Strout, author of Olive Kitteridge
Many of the characters in this collection are journeyman musicians-has-beens and never-weres-but 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