by Micah Nathan
The high concept pitch for this book would be: "Blues Brothers" meets "Bubba Ho-Tep." A decrepit old man who at least thinks he's Elvis Presley goes on a mission from God in order to rescue his illegitimate granddaughter Nadine, who's a stripper in Memphis.
Like both of those movies I mentioned, there needs to be a second banana. This is Ben Fish, who recently graduated from college with a useless anthropology degree. Ben sees an ad in the paper promising a lot of money for driving the old man from suburban Buffalo to Memphis. It seems easy enough but of course it isn't.
Along the way, Ben and the old man run into numerous characters, like bikers, a half-Asian prostitute, and some girls in a bar. They also fight a crooked construction company, confront a pimp, and enter an Elvis impersonator contest. These incidents and characters sound more interesting than they really are.
I found the book entertaining enough and breezed through it in a few hours, but that's also the problem. It's too short. I think Nathan's strategic blunder was setting Ben and the old man in Buffalo. That makes the journey far too short. If they had been starting in Los Angeles that would have made for a much longer trip. What would happen with the old man in Vegas? Now that would have been interesting. But maybe the author is far more familiar with the Buffalo area and didn't feel confident enough writing about anywhere else.
The other bugaboo is that Nathan frequently "head hops" or switches from one character's perspective to another. This is the kind of thing that if I showed it to a critique group they'd scream bloody murder. In this case I would have preferred to keep the focus on Ben and his growth as the road trip goes on. Not that he grows an awful lot. I won't give away just how much or how little.
Anyway, if you're a fan of Elvis this is a fun little read. It won't really challenge you and you can finish it in a couple of hours and move on to something more substantial.
I hope this review satisfies your Suspicious Minds...(I got a million of those!)
That is all.