Travels with the King
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.
Losing Graceland follows recent college grad Fish as he struggles to find his place in the world. The flailing Fish is the classic American slacker. He is college-educated, but all he really wants to do is escape to Amsterdam, where his dream is to smoke pot, dabble in artistic endeavors and hook up with hot European girls. Fish is plenty motivated to get away since his teenage girlfriend has just dumped him, and he is reeling from the tragic death of his father. A newspaper ad offering $10,000 to drive an old man cross-country seems to be the answer to Fish’s prayers.
He is hired by a slick-haired, paunchy, pill-popping senior citizen who resembles a washed-up suburban Elvis Presley. Fish and his companion hit the road in a 1965 Cadillac El Dorado and head south from New York to, predictably, Memphis, Tennessee. The navigator’s ultimate goal is to rescue his granddaughter, a stripper named Nadine, from a man whom she has married due to a gross error in judgment.
Stop-offs at karaoke bars en route reveal that Fish’s employer possesses a well-seasoned, velvety voice and swiveling, albeit creaky, hips. The old man’s penchant for jumpsuits and pomade, as well as his detours to visit backwoods oracles and his affinity for gospel music, line up with everything Fish has ever read about the music legend. Along the way, Fish becomes convinced that he could actually be chauffeuring the King.
You’ll have to read Losing Graceland for yourself to determine whether Fish discovers—as the adage goes—if “Elvis lives.” But whether the story is truth or tabloid, Losing Graceland is a fun, fast read for Presley devotees and coming-of-age fiction fans alike.