What to Read if You Loved Priscilla

I like to think I knew that Elvis Presley was a petulant child before I saw Sofia Coppola’s new film Priscilla… butI really didn’t even know the half of it. I certainly didn’t know he was grooming her from the age of fourteen to be a kept woman, or that he’d do that emotionally abusive thing of dumping her just to show that he could. He was, of course, a troubled person, too, but the Baz Luhrmann biopic just kind of glossed right over those details… even though he had three hours in which to acknowledge them.

And you know, I can’t even really be mad at Priscilla’s parents about letting it happen. Elvis snowed them over, too. And it’s like her mother said (basically), if we tell her she can’t do it, she’s going to figure out a way to do it anyway, and then we won’t even be able to monitor the situation.

Priscilla finds herself in a truly disgusting scenario, and it is absolutely gorgeous on screen. It’s one of my favorite things about Sophia Coppola’s films: yes, the situation might be despicable, but it’s beautiful, too, and we always get to fully enjoy the set and costume design of her films. And in this case, it’s teased hair, shag carpets, and lame gowns that made me say aloud, “I need all new clothes.”

Also, Elvis was cruel when he said it to her, but all of his fashion recommendations (darker hair will set off your eyes, sack dresses do nothing for you, etc.) were correct.

All that to say, as a feminist killjoy, I fully enjoyed this film. If you did, too, here are several books that might interest you as well, including celebrity memoirs, celebrity biographies, and of course, books about Priscilla and Elvis themselves—by the way, the film was adapted from Elvis and Me by Priscilla Presley, so that’s a good place to start!

credit: imdb

Mary Kay McBrayer is the author of America’s First Female Serial Killer: Jane Toppan and the Making of a Monster. You can find her short works at Oxford American, Narratively, Mental Floss, and FANGORIA, among other publications. She co-hosts Everything Trying to Kill You, the comedy podcast that analyzes your favorite horror movies from the perspectives of women of color. Follow Mary Kay McBrayer on Instagram and Twitter, or check out her author site here.