Another Song About the King

Stern, Kathryn. Another Song About the King. New York: Random House, 2000.

Silvie Page has the kind of mother we all dread having. The kind of mother we probably already have memories of. The kind of mother that loves us to death. Outwardly appearing to have our best interests in mind but really are so caught up in themselves that their intentions are inwardly mean and controlling. Best friends forever as a way to minimize and manipulate. Silvie’s mother, Mimi, is just that woman. When Silvie was a child it was in the way Mimi wanted Silvie to be just like her, only just not as pretty or talented.  It’s in the way she phones an adult Silvie (with a calling code that meant she should pick up no matter what) only to say ‘wear red on your first day on the job.’ All of Silvie’s life her mother has kept her in emotional limbo – one minute loving and sweet, the next competitive and conniving. Silvie tries different tactics to “escape” her mother’s grasp, starting with changing how she addresses her mother from mom to Mimi, as a way to distance herself from a blood relation. Throughout Sylvie’s life there is another shadow that looms just as large. Elvis. Mimi has an ongoing obsession with a date she had with Elvis when she was 16. It is her worst kept secret, one that in times of stress, she hauls out and elaborates on until finally the lie is bigger than the truth. She even has blue suede shoes and a crimson cape to illustrate her never-wavering loyalty to the king.
There is so much more to Another Song About the King than meets the eye. Beyond a complicated mother-daughter relationship there is an element of self-discovery and forgiveness. I couldn’t put it down.

Lines that snagged me: “I was successful in the womb – obedient and nimble, turning somersaults in those jelly seas of color and sleep” (p 9), “I’d come to lose my mother and find myself, to put some distance between her dreams and mine” (p 24), and, “But, I was sure I would lose, and winning, I knew in my bones, would raise the stakes with my mother in a game I didn’t want to play” (p 81). There were many, many more tantalizing lines, but I’ll let you find them.

Author Fact: Another Song About the King is Kathryn Stern’s first novel.

BookLust Twist: From Book Lust in the chapter called “Elvis On My Mind ” (p 78).

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