Sometimes the facts, presented without fanfare, salacious innuendo, or tabloid fervor, can be more startling, more surprising than anything else; certainly they can be sadder. Sad is the story of the last half of Elvis Presley's life as documented by Peter Guralnick, and it's the facts he has so scrupulously gathered, the penetrating documentary he's made with them that is most disturbing. Careless Love: The Unmaking of Elvis Presley (6 hours), read by J. Charles, makes evident all the pills, parties, drugs, the destructive behavior, the wowing, winning, and wounding of young women, and the fumbling espousal of spirituality. Elvis's sweet nature, good manners, and concern for those who worked with him runs in counterpoint to his spiraling loss of control and deepening depressive state. Guralnick never indulges in speculation or superficial pop-psych; the picture he paints is painfully accurate, riveting in its calm appraisal.

Sukey Howard reports on spoken word audio each month.

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