Gone, just like a train

Expect nothing from QB from Friday until Tuesday, as we’re headed north Mississippi for all kinds of mischief. In Holly Springs, where Robert Altman’s hilarious Cookie’s Fortune was set and filmed, we’ll make a pilgrimage to Graceland Too. What is Graceland Too, you ask? Well, as U2 sang, it’s even better than the real thing. Cultural historian Karal Ann Marling describes it thusly:

“Graceland Too is home to the self-proclaimed ‘World’s Number One Elvis Fan,’ Paul MacLeod; his mother; and his son, Elvis Aaron MacLeod, who dresses and sounds a lot like Elvis Presley. The MacLeod house is named after Presley’s Memphis mansion, to which it bears a superficial resemblance thanks to the columns and two concrete lions, guarding either edge of the facade, and a certain eccentricity of taste, expressed in pink and yellow drapes visible at the upstairs windows.

“Graceland Too is an Elvis museum, full of items like petals from the first flower laid on Elvis Presley’s grave. It is also a sort of respectful parody of the real Graceland. Elvis had a TV set in every room. In Graceland Too, TV sets are monitored day and night for any mention of his name. References are filed away in more than a thousand notebooks stacked in the hallway at the foot of the staircase. The MacLeods claim to have 10 million Elvis items. Admission is $3.”

My understanding is that admission’s gone up to five bucks, but my friend Traveling Tom—who lives in Oxford, Mississippi—and I will still probably make the trip.

We’ll also root around for some smoky, succulent barbecue at Handy Andy Grocery and Market or wherever looks like a prime spot for gorging. Speaking of which, Slate’s David Plotz has spent the week on a quest for the greatest barbecue in the South. Start reading here. Tom and I will work off the pounds on the frisbee golf course, and edify ourselves at the second-greatest bookstore in America. We may find ourselves at Faulkner’s home. There may even be a day trip to the real Graceland in Memphis.

Perhaps, none of this will happen. Perhaps all of it and more. In any event, I’ll be in Oxford until next week. When I come back, one way or another, there will be stories to be told. Stay tuned.

About Walter Biggins

Walter Biggins is a writer based in Atlanta, GA. He is the co-author (with Daniel Couch) of Bob Mould's Workbook (Bloomsbury, 2017). His work has been published in The Quarterly Conversation, RogerEbert.com, Bookslut (RIP), The Comics Journal, The Baseball Chronicle, and other periodicals. Twitter: @walter_biggins.
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4 Responses to Gone, just like a train

  1. Ernesto says:

    Ok, I’ll bite. What’s the first greatest bookstore in America?

  2. Ernesto says:

    What about Powell’s? Or did you just mean the greatest bookstores in Mississippi?

  3. QB says:

    I meant in America. Powell’s is huge and a result its selection is fantastic, but the main store felt like a warehouse to me. Too many fluorescent lights, too many shelves that were twice as tall as I was, and no real sense of charm. Honestly, though, I just came back from Square Books last night, and it’s now a distant third. (Labryrinth Books in NYC is now 2nd place.) The fiction and poetry sections in Square Books aren’t as large as I remember. But the café is beautiful, and there’s an upstairs patio overlooking the Oxford town square. That counts for a lot.

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