Elvis Unplugged

by Marlis Wesseler,
128 pages,
ISBN: 0778010937

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First Novels - Elvis and the Shaman
Elvis Unplugged (Oberon, 123 pages, price not listed) by Marlis Wesseler, also nominated for both the 1998 Saskatchewan Book of the Year Award and the Saskatchewan Book Award for Fiction, is the unusual tale of a woman in her late fifties who decides to abandon her old life and follow a comatose Elvis Presley look-alike to various hospitals in Saskatchewan in order to "see him out". May's strange adventure begins during a visit to her father (also comatose), when she notices the man in the next bed bears an uncanny resemblance to Elvis. As time passes and the man loses some of his excessive weight, the resemblance becomes even greater (in May's opinion, at least). And then there's his name: Leroy Durocher translates into The King of Rock.

May's preoccupation continues to grow, and when her father dies, she does not let it go. In fact, she not only continues to visit the comatose Leroy, but she also retires from her job, breaks off her long-term affair with her married employer, and decides to follow Leroy to whatever hospital he is transferred to. In the meantime, she decides to investigate his background, and visits the hotel where he had been staying. She learns that Leroy kept to himself, liked TV and junk food, and did excellent impersonations, especially of Elvis. Was he or wasn't he an Elvis impersonator? "Truth certainly could be stranger than fiction, if you could ever tell them apart in the first place."

Elvis Unplugged is a low-key book. One of the most interesting things about it is May herself, so ordinary in many ways yet willing to turn her life upside-down for no apparent reason. Only a catalyst is needed-and an Elvis look-alike will do nicely, thank you. As much as May is an unlikely heroine, she is oddly admirable. She feels no need to justify her actions, no matter how bizarre in the eyes of others. She simply chooses what she thinks is best for herself, and goes ahead and does it.


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