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She Played Elvis

A Pilgrimage to Graceland

Shady Cosgrove    
Format: Paperback - Demy format
Pages: 256
AUD $26.99inc. GST
She Played Elvis


More about this book

A quirky, funny and quietly moving memoir that tells of a road-trip that a young American immigrant undertook with her boyfriend on a pilgrimage to Graceland, travelling across America on Greyhound buses, busking Elvis songs along the way.


She Played Elvis is the story of a trip that Shady, a young American immigrant to Australia, undertakes with her Australian boyfriend to rediscover her homeland - which, after several years in Australia, doesn't necessarily feel like 'home' anymore. As part of the journey, the pair decide to make a pilgrimage across America, travelling on Greyhound buses, to get to Graceland for the celebrations of the 25th anniversary of Elvis Presley's death, with Shady busking and singing Elvis songs at cities and towns along the way. As they travel across America, memories of her past begin to surface and Shady realises that while she is coming to understand the meaning of 'home', she is also untangling the knotted threads of her difficult relationship with her estranged, erratic, unreliable and often violent father.

A moving, witty and original meditation on the idea of pilgrimage, family, home and loss, She Played Elvis is a classic road story and a journey of self-discovery set to an Elvis soundtrack; a story told with a clear-eyed, intelligent, unforgettable grace.

Shady Cosgrove lives in the Illawarra with her partner, Scott, and teaches creative writing at the University of Wollongong. Her work has appeared in Best Australian Stories 2006, Antipodes, Southerly and Overland.

ISBN: 9781741757248
Australian Pub.: September 2009
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Imprint: Allen & Unwin
Subject: Memoirs
Edition Number:

Reader reviews

'She Played Elvis is an engaging dissection of personal and national identity; and how we extract meaning from experiences. The narrative is an eclectic mix of travelogue, self-analysis, and musings on the construction of reality, family, a sense of place and belonging. Shady Cosgrove's writing style is intimate, yet unflinching and clear-headed as she peels back the surface layers and encounters truths about her family and her country of origin.' - Alison McCallum

'When I first picked up She Played Elvis, I must admit that I was a little wary about what else could be written about Elvis Presley, after all he died in 1977. I discovered that this story is very different, and very enjoyable.

This is a true autobiographical story, Shady is an American residing in Australia with her Australian boyfriend, Scott. Shady wants to return to America and reacquaint herself with her homeland, and after a suggestion from a college friend Heather, Shady and Scott set out on a pilgrimage to Graceland, home of the late Elvis Presley.

What began as a pilgrimage to Graceland honouring Elvis became a personal journey for Shady invoking many strong and conflicting childhood memories, particularly about her absent father.

Shady and Scott travel around America via Greyhound coaches with Shady busking more in a tribute to Elvis than the expectation of earning money for their journey.

Throughout their travels, they experience kindness from unlikely sources, re-establishing Shady's faith in her countrymen.

A story of awareness and self-discovery, written in a very clever and witty way, an enjoyable read.' - Cheryl Moulton

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