TENDER by Mark Childress
Harmony; 566 pages; $19.95
Pick an Elvis, any Elvis at all. There's the mythic bad boy mimed, most recently, by Nicolas Cage in Wild at Heart. There is the great white whale with the red neck harpooned by Albert Goldman in his notorious unauthorized biography. Or there is the sweet prince of dreams, who provides the sound track for the heroine's housework in Alice Hoffman's recent Seventh Heaven.
At least all those folks called him by his name. For Mark Childress, Elvis is Leroy Kirby. The name is a down-home rendering of the French for Presley's nickname,...