Chat talk and light discussion

Albert Goldman gets slated

Sun May 25, 2014 6:11 pm

Came across this tv discussion about Albert Goldman's writing. He comes in for a bit of stick!

http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=P9LQXbgOeWw

Re: Albert Goldman gets slated

Sun May 25, 2014 6:49 pm

The problem with Goldman is that he had a view that not many agreed with or liked and that he put his views across in an often inflammatory way. His biography of Elvis was deeply flawed and prejudiced, but I don't have any deep issues with the actual way he writes. Does he use shock tactics? Yes, but I'd rather someone do that than write in a bland way - and many biographies are bland in the extreme. I don't agree with what he says (mostly), but the one think you CAN say about him is that his writing is never dull!

Re: Albert Goldman gets slated

Sun May 25, 2014 6:56 pm

you CAN say about him is that his writing is never dull!


I agree there, although he is full of hate, some parts of his writing is excellent and even funny.
Like his write up of a 50's Elvis concert and all the things around that concert, like the pre-shows, in his book, it's hilarious!!

Re: Albert Goldman gets slated

Sun May 25, 2014 10:55 pm

Apart from an occasional tidy turn of phrase, I find it hard to give Goldman credit for anything other than deliberately and maliciously besmirching the reputation of a good man and a gifted artist.

Goldman belittled Elvis' talent to the point of non-existence and, wherever possible, used language that portrayed Elvis in the worst possible light.

When not writing directly about Elvis, his ability to capture certain situations within the book was, at times, entertaining.

I find it hard to be objective, I'm afraid: my love of justice, language and writing is still offended by the negative approach taken by the author.

Re: Albert Goldman gets slated

Sun May 25, 2014 11:29 pm

heathbarclay wrote:Came across this tv discussion about Albert Goldman's writing. He comes in for a bit of stick!

phpBB [video]



No one deserved it more.

It's been discussed many times since it appeared on YouTube.

See these earlier topics for some excellent forum comments:

http://www.elvis-collectors.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=52684
http://www.elvis-collectors.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=53130&p=764313&#p764313
http://www.elvis-collectors.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=60231&p=894305&#p894305



George Smith wrote:Apart from an occasional tidy turn of phrase, I find it hard to give Goldman credit for anything other than deliberately and maliciously besmirching the reputation of a good man and a gifted artist.

Goldman belittled Elvis' talent to the point of non-existence and, wherever possible, used language that portrayed Elvis in the worst possible light.

When not writing directly about Elvis, his ability to capture certain situations within the book was, at times, entertaining.

I find it hard to be objective, I'm afraid: my love of justice, language and writing is still offended by the negative approach taken by the author.


Spot-on.

Not to mention the scores of easily-verifiable factual errors made by the biographer, rendering its value to less than the worth of the paper it was printed on.

"The torrents of hate that drive this book are unrelieved," wrote critic Greil Marcus thirty-two years ago.

Also spot-on.

Re: Albert Goldman gets slated

Mon May 26, 2014 3:10 am

drjohncarpenter wrote:
heathbarclay wrote:Came across this tv discussion about Albert Goldman's writing. He comes in for a bit of stick!

phpBB [video]



No one deserved it more.

It's been discussed many times since it appeared on YouTube.

See these earlier topics for some excellent forum comments:

http://www.elvis-collectors.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=52684
http://www.elvis-collectors.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=53130&p=764313&#p764313
http://www.elvis-collectors.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=60231&p=894305&#p894305



George Smith wrote:Apart from an occasional tidy turn of phrase, I find it hard to give Goldman credit for anything other than deliberately and maliciously besmirching the reputation of a good man and a gifted artist.

Goldman belittled Elvis' talent to the point of non-existence and, wherever possible, used language that portrayed Elvis in the worst possible light.

When not writing directly about Elvis, his ability to capture certain situations within the book was, at times, entertaining.

I find it hard to be objective, I'm afraid: my love of justice, language and writing is still offended by the negative approach taken by the author.


Spot-on.

Not to mention the scores of easily-verifiable factual errors made by the biographer, rendering its value to less than the worth of the paper it was printed on.

"The torrents of hate that drive this book are unrelieved," wrote critic Greil Marcus thirty-two years ago.

Also spot-on.


If we valued Elvis-themed books on the amount of factual errors in them, most would be consigned to the dustbin. Hidden among the vitriol are some interesting, if controversial, views on our man. Many fans rave about Elvis and everything he did, Goldman does almost the complete opposite, but the truth is probably somewhere in between.

Aside from falsehoods, the obsessions with Elvis's sexuality and manhood, Goldman DOES have interesting things to say, even if we don't agree with them. His critique of the 68 comeback, starting on page 507 is a case in point. He absolutely hates the sit-down shows, but his argument as to why he hates them and why he thinks they show Elvis at his worst is actually rather compelling. We don't agree with him, and history ultimately doesn't agree with him, but his case as to why this material is bad is just as valid as to why we think it is good - and the reasons for both cases, interestingly, is exactly the same.

Goldman's book is, in parts, foul. However, there are moments such as the critique of the comeback special when he puts his view across in well-written, entertaining prose, and it is in these moments that his work suddenly becomes credible, if just for a moment. Controversial, but credible. These passages are why we shouldn't totally discount Goldman's book. He may come from a viewpoint we vehemently don't agree with, but he has the guts to not go with the flow and, on rare occasions, gives his argument in such a way that causes us to sit up for a moment, take note, and check with ourselves that we haven't got it wrong all these years.

Re: Albert Goldman gets slated

Mon May 26, 2014 4:58 am

poormadpeter wrote:
drjohncarpenter wrote:
heathbarclay wrote:Came across this tv discussion about Albert Goldman's writing. He comes in for a bit of stick!

phpBB [video]



No one deserved it more.

It's been discussed many times since it appeared on YouTube.

See these earlier topics for some excellent forum comments:

http://www.elvis-collectors.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=52684
http://www.elvis-collectors.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=53130&p=764313&#p764313
http://www.elvis-collectors.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=60231&p=894305&#p894305



George Smith wrote:Apart from an occasional tidy turn of phrase, I find it hard to give Goldman credit for anything other than deliberately and maliciously besmirching the reputation of a good man and a gifted artist.

Goldman belittled Elvis' talent to the point of non-existence and, wherever possible, used language that portrayed Elvis in the worst possible light.

When not writing directly about Elvis, his ability to capture certain situations within the book was, at times, entertaining.

I find it hard to be objective, I'm afraid: my love of justice, language and writing is still offended by the negative approach taken by the author.


Spot-on.

Not to mention the scores of easily-verifiable factual errors made by the biographer, rendering its value to less than the worth of the paper it was printed on.

"The torrents of hate that drive this book are unrelieved," wrote critic Greil Marcus thirty-two years ago.

Also spot-on.


If we valued Elvis-themed books on the amount of factual errors in them, most would be consigned to the dustbin.


Poppycock.

You must be unaware this book was touted as a major release in 1981, and promoted as a scholarly work that would become the benchmark biography of Elvis Presley. Under scrutiny, and with time, it was seen for the garbage it was.

Please study up on a topic before you fly off on one of your rants. That would be greatly appreciated by all.

Re: Albert Goldman gets slated

Mon May 26, 2014 7:00 am

heathbarclay wrote:Came across this tv discussion about Albert Goldman's writing. He comes in for a bit of stick!

http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=P9LQXbgOeWw



Good on them, Goldman was a half wit charlatan who felt threatened by Elvis' sensuality, sexuality, manliness, charisma and talent.

Re: Albert Goldman gets slated

Mon May 26, 2014 11:13 am

poormadpeter wrote:If we valued Elvis-themed books on the amount of factual errors in them, most would be consigned to the dustbin. Hidden among the vitriol are some interesting, if controversial, views on our man. Many fans rave about Elvis and everything he did, Goldman does almost the complete opposite, but the truth is probably somewhere in between.

Aside from falsehoods, the obsessions with Elvis's sexuality and manhood, Goldman DOES have interesting things to say, even if we don't agree with them. His critique of the 68 comeback, starting on page 507 is a case in point. He absolutely hates the sit-down shows, but his argument as to why he hates them and why he thinks they show Elvis at his worst is actually rather compelling. We don't agree with him, and history ultimately doesn't agree with him, but his case as to why this material is bad is just as valid as to why we think it is good - and the reasons for both cases, interestingly, is exactly the same.

Goldman's book is, in parts, foul. However, there are moments such as the critique of the comeback special when he puts his view across in well-written, entertaining prose, and it is in these moments that his work suddenly becomes credible, if just for a moment. Controversial, but credible. These passages are why we shouldn't totally discount Goldman's book. He may come from a viewpoint we vehemently don't agree with, but he has the guts to not go with the flow and, on rare occasions, gives his argument in such a way that causes us to sit up for a moment, take note, and check with ourselves that we haven't got it wrong all these years.

Thank you for your post, Peter: I reserve the right to strongly disagree with you.

Upon first reading the book, I came to two overwhelming conclusions:

1) Goldman chose to deliberately go against the grain, regardless of his personal feeling or research. He established a point of view based entirely on the concept that almost everything previously written about Elvis of a positive nature was incorrect and then attempted to justify his stance, no matter how contrary. As such, he started with a conclusion and then worked towards it -- not a thorough or rational approach (if this, indeed, is what he did and my suggestion is correct).

2) Goldman's work required no "guts": he did not write this book because of a deep-rooted belief. He wrote is purely for the money and knew that it would have to sensational to sell.

I am not saying that the book is entirely without merit: the Parker chapter is interesting and, as noted, he does occasionally come up with an interesting piece of prose on certain topics, but as a biography of a major cultural figure it is irredeemably flawed, ill-researched and intentionally malicious.

I have read the book many times, Peter, and each visit brings the same feelings.

Just my opinion.

Re: Albert Goldman gets slated

Mon May 26, 2014 11:22 am

George Smith wrote:Thank you for your post, Peter: I reserve the right to strongly disagree with you.

Upon first reading the book, I came to two overwhelming conclusions:

1) Goldman chose to deliberately go against the grain, regardless of his personal feeling or research. He established a point of view based entirely on the concept that almost everything previously written about Elvis of a positive nature was incorrect and then attempted to justify his stance, no matter how contrary. As such, he started with a conclusion and then worked towards it -- not a thorough or rational approach (if this, indeed, is what he did and my suggestion is correct).

2) Goldman's work required no "guts": he did not write this book because of a deep-rooted belief. He wrote is purely for the money and knew that it would have to sensational to sell.

I am not saying that the book is entirely without merit: the Parker chapter is interesting and, as noted, he does occasionally come up with an interesting piece of prose on certain topics, but as a biography of a major cultural figure it is irredeemably flawed, ill-researched and intentionally malicious.

I have read the book many times, Peter, and each visit brings the same feelings.

Just my opinion.


It also happens to be the consensus opinion regarding 1981's Elvis.

Re: Albert Goldman gets slated

Mon May 26, 2014 4:18 pm

drjohncarpenter wrote:
George Smith wrote:Thank you for your post, Peter: I reserve the right to strongly disagree with you.

Upon first reading the book, I came to two overwhelming conclusions:

1) Goldman chose to deliberately go against the grain, regardless of his personal feeling or research. He established a point of view based entirely on the concept that almost everything previously written about Elvis of a positive nature was incorrect and then attempted to justify his stance, no matter how contrary. As such, he started with a conclusion and then worked towards it -- not a thorough or rational approach (if this, indeed, is what he did and my suggestion is correct).

2) Goldman's work required no "guts": he did not write this book because of a deep-rooted belief. He wrote is purely for the money and knew that it would have to sensational to sell.

I am not saying that the book is entirely without merit: the Parker chapter is interesting and, as noted, he does occasionally come up with an interesting piece of prose on certain topics, but as a biography of a major cultural figure it is irredeemably flawed, ill-researched and intentionally malicious.

I have read the book many times, Peter, and each visit brings the same feelings.

Just my opinion.


It also happens to be the consensus opinion regarding 1981's Elvis.


It might be the consensus, but it doesn't mean its right necessarily. The critical consensus in 1956 was that Elvis wouldn't last. The critical consensus on the TV special in 1968 was that it was good in patches, but nothing special. Time changes our view on things. The anger vented at Goldman is, by and large, from those that were around at the time and remember the damage done to Elvis because of its publication. And rightly so. But we shouldn't dismiss an entire book such as this any more than we should dismiss the complete Girl Happy soundtrack - hidden amongst the rubbish is stuff worth listening to/reading.

Your suggestion that the book was touted as a scholarly work simply doesn't hold up. From the first edition to those in foreign territories, there is nothing about the look of this book that shouts "scholarly". By the first paperback edition in 1982, it was being published by Avon (not known for their scholarlyy works), the front cover declares a "shocking bestseller, and the back cover touts that the book was Playboy book-of-the-month. New York Magazine called it "an exercise in deep-dish journalism". Billboard called it a "warts and all" biography. If you think those are ways out touting and reviewing a work that was ever thought of as "scholarly" then you are very much mistaken. It might have touted as a "serious" biography, but as soon as it was published that suggestion was torn to smithereens thanks to the reviews the book received directly before or after publication.

Re: Albert Goldman gets slated

Mon May 26, 2014 8:47 pm

poormadpeter wrote:
drjohncarpenter wrote:It also happens to be the consensus opinion regarding 1981's Elvis.


It might be the consensus, but it doesn't mean its right necessarily.


Have fun with that lonely argument. :smt023

Re: Albert Goldman gets slated

Mon May 26, 2014 10:09 pm

drjohncarpenter wrote:
poormadpeter wrote:
drjohncarpenter wrote:It also happens to be the consensus opinion regarding 1981's Elvis.


It might be the consensus, but it doesn't mean its right necessarily.


Have fun with that lonely argument. :smt023


At least I have my own argument, Doc. Once again you hide behind the consensus so you don't have to make your own.

Re: Albert Goldman gets slated

Mon May 26, 2014 10:30 pm

poormadpeter wrote:
drjohncarpenter wrote:Have fun with that lonely argument. :smt023


At least I have my own argument, Doc.


It might be your "own" argument, but it doesn't mean anyone else on planet Earth cares. :smt023

Re: Albert Goldman gets slated

Mon May 26, 2014 11:12 pm

Goldman was a wicked and cruel person who made a living by writing dirt on celebrities who were not alive to defend themselves.
Firstly, it was Lenny Bruce. Then the infamous book about Elvis.

In the early 80's, he did an article on Bruce Lee.

Then he tried to destroy the reputation of John Lennon with the book he wrote about him but by then, most people sussed out Goldman for the person he was.
At the time of Goldman's death in 1994 of heart failure ( i didn't even know he had a heart) on a plane trip to London.
He was working on a book about Jim Morrison.
Im not sure if any Author has written a book about Goldman's life, maybe no Author wants to bring themselves down to his level. which is the gutter.

Re: Albert Goldman gets slated

Wed May 28, 2014 12:05 am

Bodie wrote:Goldman was a wicked and cruel person who made a living by writing dirt on celebrities who were not alive to defend themselves.
Firstly, it was Lenny Bruce. Then the infamous book about Elvis.

In the early 80's, he did an article on Bruce Lee.

Then he tried to destroy the reputation of John Lennon with the book he wrote about him but by then, most people sussed out Goldman for the person he was.
At the time of Goldman's death in 1994 of heart failure ( i didn't even know he had a heart) on a plane trip to London.
He was working on a book about Jim Morrison.
Im not sure if any Author has written a book about Goldman's life, maybe no Author wants to bring themselves down to his level. which is the gutter.


Your post is really as judgemental as Goldman's books. Do we know he was "wicked and cruel?" I mean, really?

We actually know relatively little about Goldman or what drove him to write books in the way he did. One assumes there was more to his apparent yearning to trash the icons he did than simply being wicked and cruel. Goldman could have written controversial books such as these in a far less lurid style, and the money would still have stacked up - they would still have been controversial. It's the style and seediness that generally causes the problems, not the content. If he hated these figures so much, why did want to spend four or five years researching a book on them? I couldn't think of anything worse than doing that - money or no money.

It always seems to me that biographies tell us more about the author than the subject - no biography simply gives us the facts one after the other, and if they did it would be very dull reading indeed. Do I like Goldman's book? No. But do I think there are parts that are worth reading just to see the other side of the coin (such as the 68 special review)? Yes. Very few books are completely worthless.

Re: Albert Goldman gets slated

Wed May 28, 2014 12:35 am

Peter, I'm quite content to agree that the book is not completely worthless, but the vitriol that oozes from almost every page is enough to strangle any admiration, no matter how vague.

Goldman wrote about dead celebrities in order (I assume) to avoid accusations of libel, even though many (but by no means all) of his facts are correct. I don't believe he had a hatred of Lennon, Presley or any of his other casualties ... it was about the money and maybe even the attendant celebrity that came with it. That's why he was happy to invest several years in his "research" and writing.

Even the moments that might be considered as Goldman's high-points are not necessarily what they seem to be: for example, Goldman did not out the Colonel, he merely regurgitated the articles that had appeared in Europe several years before.

Yes, the book may contain some truths but the price the reader pays in order to get to those occasional truths is very high: Presley is stripped, de-humanised and abused by an unsympathetic, un-caring writer who had little appreciation of popular culture and no understanding of the impact Presley, Lennon and their ilk had during the mid-20th century.

Re: Albert Goldman gets slated

Wed May 28, 2014 1:19 am

It always seems to me that biographies tell us more about the author than the subject


My point exactly :D

Re: Albert Goldman gets slated

Wed May 28, 2014 2:00 am

George Smith wrote:Peter, I'm quite content to agree that the book is not completely worthless, but the vitriol that oozes from almost every page is enough to strangle any admiration, no matter how vague.

Goldman wrote about dead celebrities in order (I assume) to avoid accusations of libel, even though many (but by no means all) of his facts are correct. I don't believe he had a hatred of Lennon, Presley or any of his other casualties ... it was about the money and maybe even the attendant celebrity that came with it. That's why he was happy to invest several years in his "research" and writing.

Even the moments that might be considered as Goldman's high-points are not necessarily what they seem to be: for example, Goldman did not out the Colonel, he merely regurgitated the articles that had appeared in Europe several years before.

Yes, the book may contain some truths but the price the reader pays in order to get to those occasional truths is very high: Presley is stripped, de-humanised and abused by an unsympathetic, un-caring writer who had little appreciation of popular culture and no understanding of the impact Presley, Lennon and their ilk had during the mid-20th century.


I don't disagree with you, George. My basic point is that some of his criticism of Elvis's work is rather interesting - in how he takes what we think make something good and turns it on its head. Did he believe what he was writing or just play devil's advocate? I have no idea, but I do find those sections of interest.

Re: Albert Goldman gets slated

Wed May 28, 2014 7:51 pm

poormadpeter wrote:
Bodie wrote:Goldman was a wicked and cruel person who made a living by writing dirt on celebrities who were not alive to defend themselves.
Firstly, it was Lenny Bruce. Then the infamous book about Elvis.

In the early 80's, he did an article on Bruce Lee.

Then he tried to destroy the reputation of John Lennon with the book he wrote about him but by then, most people sussed out Goldman for the person he was.
At the time of Goldman's death in 1994 of heart failure ( i didn't even know he had a heart) on a plane trip to London.
He was working on a book about Jim Morrison.
Im not sure if any Author has written a book about Goldman's life, maybe no Author wants to bring themselves down to his level. which is the gutter.


Your post is really as judgemental as Goldman's books. Do we know he was "wicked and cruel?" I mean, really?


We don't need to smash a hammer onto our hands to find out if its gonna hurt.

His books, and the way he has written them to degrade dead people, tell me he was a wicked and cruel man.

Re: Albert Goldman gets slated

Wed May 28, 2014 10:48 pm

Bodie wrote:
poormadpeter wrote:
Bodie wrote:Goldman was a wicked and cruel person who made a living by writing dirt on celebrities who were not alive to defend themselves.
Firstly, it was Lenny Bruce. Then the infamous book about Elvis.

In the early 80's, he did an article on Bruce Lee.

Then he tried to destroy the reputation of John Lennon with the book he wrote about him but by then, most people sussed out Goldman for the person he was.
At the time of Goldman's death in 1994 of heart failure ( i didn't even know he had a heart) on a plane trip to London.
He was working on a book about Jim Morrison.
Im not sure if any Author has written a book about Goldman's life, maybe no Author wants to bring themselves down to his level. which is the gutter.


Your post is really as judgemental as Goldman's books. Do we know he was "wicked and cruel?" I mean, really?


We don't need to smash a hammer onto our hands to find out if its gonna hurt.

His books, and the way he has written them to degrade dead people, tell me he was a wicked and cruel man.


How many have you read?

Re: Albert Goldman gets slated

Tue Jul 08, 2014 2:42 pm

Goldman deserves the opinion of his book (which I stomached reading some years back) that I have worded thusly:

"You can't even wipe your @$$ with it for toilet paper, there's already too much crap on the pages."

The decades of damage that thing did to Elvis' legacy makes anything he has to say worthless.

The best thing about the book was the rather cool cover portrait.

Re: Albert Goldman gets slated

Tue Jul 08, 2014 8:57 pm

JamieAKelley wrote:Goldman deserves the opinion of his book (which I stomached reading some years back) that I have worded thusly:

"You can't even wipe your @$$ with it for toilet paper, there's already too much crap on the pages."

The decades of damage that thing did to Elvis' legacy makes anything he has to say worthless.

The best thing about the book was the rather cool cover portrait.



I agree wholeheartedly, Jamie. I didn't even get through 1/3 of the first chapter before I put it down and never picked it back up.

Re: Albert Goldman gets slated

Wed Jul 09, 2014 1:38 am

poormadpeter wrote:
Bodie wrote:
poormadpeter wrote:
Bodie wrote:Goldman was a wicked and cruel person who made a living by writing dirt on celebrities who were not alive to defend themselves.
Firstly, it was Lenny Bruce. Then the infamous book about Elvis.

In the early 80's, he did an article on Bruce Lee.

Then he tried to destroy the reputation of John Lennon with the book he wrote about him but by then, most people sussed out Goldman for the person he was.
At the time of Goldman's death in 1994 of heart failure ( i didn't even know he had a heart) on a plane trip to London.
He was working on a book about Jim Morrison.
Im not sure if any Author has written a book about Goldman's life, maybe no Author wants to bring themselves down to his level. which is the gutter.


Your post is really as judgemental as Goldman's books. Do we know he was "wicked and cruel?" I mean, really?


We don't need to smash a hammer onto our hands to find out if its gonna hurt.

His books, and the way he has written them to degrade dead people, tell me he was a wicked and cruel man.


How many have you read?


I haven't read any from cover to cover but then i don't need to for me to know that im not gonna enjoy Goldman's books.

Re: Albert Goldman gets slated

Wed Jul 09, 2014 5:07 pm

Tony Trout wrote:
JamieAKelley wrote:Goldman deserves the opinion of his book (which I stomached reading some years back) that I have worded thusly:

"You can't even wipe your @$$ with it for toilet paper, there's already too much crap on the pages."

The decades of damage that thing did to Elvis' legacy makes anything he has to say worthless.

The best thing about the book was the rather cool cover portrait.



I agree wholeheartedly, Jamie. I didn't even get through 1/3 of the first chapter before I put it down and never picked it back up.


So, you are slamming the work of a man by reading around 5 pages of what he has written? Nice work.