Radio Elvis and Other Stories

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TCU Press, 2002 - Fiction - 197 pages
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Urban legends, Las Vegas, and life in the U.S. Army are deftly captured in these stories by novelist John Irsfeld. With imagination bordering on the quirky or absurd, Irsfeld brings back to life a fictional character from Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby and presents Elvis as alive and in hiding years after his reported death. "The Marriage Auditors” brings to mind George Orwell’s 1984, only in this case it’s not Big Brother watching individuals but a team who monitor marriages and force the dissolution of those they deem unsuccessful.

Irsfeld also writes of life as he has known it. He has, for instance, lived in the shadow of the Las Vegas Strip for years. In the Las Vegas stories, he looks at the city and sees a playground where little about life seems real. Tourists and residents alike operate in the sounds and shadows of the cards, the wheels, and the slots.

The army stories in this book spring from Irsfeld’s own experiences in the U. S. Infantry. With a thorough and probably hard-earned knowledge of army ways, he captures the reality of barracks life among men who may at any time find themselves sent to a far-off unfamiliar place called Vietnam. Several of the stories follow one man, eventually demonstrating the effect of the army on him when he becomes a civilian.

Irsfeld's view of America is not one of bucolic landscapes, happy families, or settled societies. During these times of wars and rumors of war, his tales fit our national life and express our fears and distractions.
 

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errata: the story about sfc glenn a. kennedy's death as told in 'death of a soldier,' was written essentially as it was recounted to me soon after his death by someone who was not there but who learned it from others.
in later years, i have been told that that is not an accurate account; that, in fact, sfc kennedy was killed by a shell fragment that caught him under his helmet, behind his ear, while he was standing with another soldier in what was for vietnam, at least, a comparatively safe place.
the irony of the manner in which he was killed, in this second account, anyway, who knows if it is accurate--shell fragment behind the ear--is infinitesimal relative to the magnitude of his death, of course, which was a great loss not just to his family but also to those of us who knew him as the fine man and extraordinary soldier he was. however, as the guys often said, there it is.
this scansion of 'radio elvis' skips several pages in 'death of a soldier,' and perhaps in other stories as well. i think the sure-enough book remains available through amazon and perhaps directly from the tcu press. i ain't selling it, exactly, but the best way to get the full story is that way, since google's scansion is incomplete.
sfc kennedy really was an extraordinary man.
john h. irsfeld
author of 'radio elvis'
 

Contents

Radio Elvis 3
3
Have You Knocked on Cleopatra?
45
Stop Rewind and Play
55
Finderskeepers 0
77
The Man Who Watched Airplanes 0107
107
My Neighbor Mr Young 0
113
Puerto Rico 61
129
Death of a Soldier 0
159
Ambivalence Hardy Fire
171
Copyright

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About the author (2002)

John Irsfeld is the author of the novels Little Kingdoms, Coming Through, and Rat's Alley. This is his first short-story collection. A native of Texas, Irsfeld has been on the faculty of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, for many years. He currently chairs the English department.

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