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Penguin, Harmondsworth, 1991
(price: 4.99, 650 pages)
(first published in the USA by Harmony Books, 1990)

dedication: for my mother and father

The blurb on the back:

Tender is the incredible story of Leroy Kirby, a poor white boy from Tupelo, Mississippi, who moves to Memphis, finds his voice and transforms himself - in one remarkable year - from a guitar-picking truck-driver to the most famous rock 'n' roll singer in the world

'This is the first novel I've ever read which is more inside rock and roll than about it; through the eyes of Leroy Kirby, Mark Childress has made the mad early days of rock and roll seem not just comprehensible but inevitable. Beneath the cool prose line of this minimalist epic there is the same raw and feverish drive that propelled the early rockabilly stars as they created a new kind of music ... a great novel!' - Stephen King
'Exceptionally well-written, deeply sympathetic ... Mark Childress is probably the most accomplished novelist to have tackled the Elvis Presley myth' -
The New York Times Book Review
'There is real music in Mark Childress's writing, and a whole lot of Elvis in Leroy Kirby' - Martin Cruz Smith
'Seldom has the written word so evocatively captured the thrill of the days when rock and roll was inventing itself. Childress has imagined his story with sensitivity and insight ... a revelation' -

Can't get enough of Elvis? Quite right too. Well, here's a new angle - a fictionalised account of his early years.

Leroy Kirby is a Southern boy who ... aw, shucks, you know the story of Elvis. The only thing you need to know is: does this treatment work? Yes. By taking this into fiction, Childress gets somewhere close to a believable portrait of the man. Whether it's accurate is another matter, but it's believable.

It's also satisfyingly big and self-contained. Like a novel, really.


rock & roll