Have you ever been mistaken for a celebrity all your life and then had the chance to meet that celebrity face to face?
No? OK, i'ts never happened to me, either, but it happens to Ray Johnston in Steve Carlson's intriguing novel, Almost Graceland (St. Martin's, 263 pages, $23.95)...
Ray is 42 in 1977, down on his luck, living in a trailer in Memphis, unemployed and up to his eyeballs in debt: "He was constantly reminded that his future prospects were based solely on how many hours he could put in and how many years he could keep working, if he could ever learn to keep a job. Currently, that appeared questionable."
The only thing going for him is the love of a good woman and the fact that he's a dead ringer for Elvis Presley. When Ray's mother dies, he reads her journals and finds out he was adopted, born in Tupelo, Miss., on Jan. 8, 1935, same day as Elvis.
Turns out, Elvis' twin may not have died after all, but given away because Gladys and Vernon Presley were two poor to take care of two babies.
Ray finally does meet Elvis, at Graceland. He meets Vernon, too, who after staring at and studying Ray has an unexpected emotional reaction to the whole situation.
Almost Graceland is one of those "What if?" type books that is fun to read and wonder about. Elvis fans especially will enjoy.