By Micah Nathan
(Broadway Books, Paperback, 9780307591357, 224pp.)
Publication Date: January 4, 2011
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An irreverent tale about a recent college grad, a mysterious old man who may be Elvis, and a perilous road trip that could lead to the old man’s final comeback.
When Ben Fish responds to an ad that reads “Driver Needed Seven Days Excellent Pay No Druggies, Drunks, or Felons,” it’s because of the money ($10,000) but also to get away from his dead-end life. He has just graduated from college with a useless degree, has gotten dumped by his longtime girlfriend, and is still mourning his father, who died in a freak accident. Yet Ben finds himself in for more than he expected, as the old man who placed the ad seems to be a still-living Elvis who leads Ben on a 900-mile journey to Memphis in search of his granddaughter. Along the way they brawl with biker gangs, consult a backwoods oracle, rescue a hooker named Ginger from her one-eyed pimp, and ultimately find some answers about themselves and their place in the world.
Micah Nathan’s bestselling debut novel Gods of Aberdeen (Simon & Schuster, 2005) was published in six countries. His essays and short stories have appeared in Bellingham Review, Diagram, Boston Globe Magazine, Eclectica, Commonweal, and other national publications. He is the 2010 recipient of the Saul Bellow Prize in Fiction, and his short stories have been finalists for the Tobias Wolff Award and the Innovative Fiction Award. In 2006 he coauthored a screenplay for Dimension Films. Micah is currently a Leslie Epstein Fellow at Boston University’s MFA program.
"In all the commercial and cultural carryings-on that are likely to happen in this, Elvis' 76th birthday season, one of the richest may be Micah Nathan's second novel "Losing Graceland."--Jeff Simon, The Buffalo News
“…engaging…a blend of the slapstick and the slapdash, the ironic and the painfully sincere…a wild road trip, a yarn spiced with plenty of humor and romance….” – Michael Lindgren, The Washington Post
“Micah Nathan’s first novel, Gods of Aberdeen, was a critically acclaimed story of adolescent angst. His follow-up, Losing Graceland, mines similar thematic territory as it follows another central male character, Ben Fish, on a wild and weird road trip where bikers, hookers, dive bars and desolate highways are a large part of the landscape….a fun, fast read for Presley devotees and coming-of-age fiction fans alike.”—Lizza Connor Bowen, Book Page
“…a rambunctious coming-of-age tale…”—Colette Bancroft, St. Petersburg Times
"Nathan’s second novel (after Gods of Aberdeen) narrates the quixotic adventures of Ben Fish and an old man who may be the living Elvis Presley. Ben, an unemployable college graduate, is grieving the loss of his father to a tragic accident and his girlfriend to another man. For $10,000 he agrees to drive the old man to reconnect with his long-lost granddaughter in Memphis. The novel is episodic, veering between adventures—Ben and the old man encounter bikers as well as a charming hooker and her pimp—and conversations, some philosophical, some personal histories, and the usual everyday chatter. The old man’s charisma attracts attention at every stop along the way. While processing his grief, Ben has undreamed-of experiences on this strange journey. VERDICT A quick read with quirky characters and homespun wisdom, this will appeal to fans of literary coming-of-age stories. Nathan is the 2010 recipient of Boston University’s Saul Bellow Prize in Fiction."—Library Journal
"Ben Fish has recently graduated with a degree in anthropology, undying love for his high-school-aged ex-girlfriend Jess, who broke up with him six months ago, and no plans for how to spend his summer. To avoid another season working a dead-end job at the local mall, he responds to a newspaper ad from one John Barrow, who is looking for a driver on short notice. John hires Ben to drive him to Memphis, 900 miles away, in search of his granddaughter Nadine. Their trip quickly turns into a capriciously epic journey as John, who claims to be, and for all purposes seems to actually be, Elvis Presley, takes them on detours to fight with biker gangs, visit an oracle, and save a hooker named Ginger from her one-eyed pimp. Nathan presents the reader with several fantastic characters in this rollicking, adventurous tale. Readers will pore through this fast-paced, adrenaline-filled novel and eat up the fantastic dialogue that brings Elvis back to life in a new, deliciously lascivious way."—Booklist
“A novel of lost souls and a lost America . . . the idea of Elvis Presley hiding in plain sight as an Elvis impersonator is a stroke of genius. Losing Graceland is pure entertainment.”—Tottenville Review
"Micah Nathan is a hell of a writer. Losing Graceland is a postmodern picaresque, overflowing with sly wit, pop culture icons, contemporary fretfulness, authentically touching revelations, and, most important, plain old good writing. Nathan writes with a grace and eloquence that is all too rare. He understands the awesome power of storytelling and myth making, and Losing Graceland is a book as much about that power as it is an example of it. A textured and deeply gratifying literary journey."--Alden Bell, author of The Reapers Are the Angels
“Micah Nathan’s low- and high-spirited, rambunctious road novel is an exploration of loss, faith, and human frailty—and as befits a story involving a character who just might be Elvis Presley, it’s also sad, unpredictable, and rather tragically funny.” —Brian Groh, author of Summer People
“Losing Graceland is an alluring parable for a generation forced to find adulthood in the wreckage their elders have left behind in Great Recession America. Unsettled Ben Fish’s gig is to chauffeur an endearing old man who may or may not be Elvis on an adventure that certainly isn’t as advertised. Micah Nathan—his perspective pleasantly off-kilter, his voice spare, wry, and occasionally down-right evocative—has created a confident narrative for Ben Fish’s road trip of introspection and self discovery.”—Stephen White