Photo of Graceland by William Eggleston

This Sunday, I will have the pleasure of reading at one of Seattle’s finest booksellers, Elliott Bay Book Co. This will be one of my final readings as part of the 2010 Jack Straw Writer’s Program. I’ll be reading with three of the best in the program, Bill Carty, Esther Altshul Helfgott, and Tara Roth.

Here’s the when and where…

Sunday, Nov. 7 @ 2pm

Elliott Bay Book Co.

1521 10th Ave., Seattle

I have yet to decide what all I’m going to read, but I do know one of the pieces will be an excerpt from a story called “Graceland”, which has been around in various drafts for too many years. Thanks to Jack Straw’s lighting a fire under my ass, I think I finally finished it. Here’s an excerpt, which is basically the original nugget I sketched out when the idea first came to me, driving down Elvis Presley Boulevard in Memphis, August of 2002.

Elvis Presley Boulevard was a far cry from what Vicki Myers had imagined. To her, it was just one cluttered strip of BBQ joints, fried chicken stands, and check cashing outfits. She looked over at her husband, Rick.

“It’s different from what I pictured,” she said.

Rick was fixed on the road.

“Doesn’t it look different?” she asked.

Rick shrugged. Then, finally, “I guess I didn’t know what to expect.”

They came to a stop light. The car next to them was throbbing, the music was so loud.

“I guess I pictured it more as being out in the country, y’know?” she said. “Like more private, I guess. I can’t imagine building your mansion near all this fried chicken.”

“Elvis loved fried chicken,” said Rick.


“Oh sure. All Southern boys like fried chicken. Those guys I knew in the service, that’s all they ever talked about was their momma’s fried chicken.”

The light turned green and Rick drove on, following signs to Graceland.

“Yep,” Rick said. “Elvis liked his chicken and his peanut butter and pickle sandwiches.”

“Sounds like a weirdo,” Vicki said.

They had been driving for two days. Rick was beginning to wonder why.