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Guralnick's first two books, Almost Grown (1964) and Mister Downchild (1967), were collections of short stories published by the Larry Stark Press, a small press in Cambridge, Massachusetts, devoted to stories and poems. Mona Dickson, writing in MIT's The Tech (May 13, 1964) gave Almost Grown a favorable review.
His two-volume biography of Elvis Presley, Last Train to Memphis in 1994, followed by Careless Love in 1999, placed the story of Presley's career into a rise and fall arc. Encompassing more than 1,300 pages (including 1,150 pages of text), the work was preceded by Presley's first biography by Jerry Hopkins in two important volumes, Elvis in 1971 and Elvis: The Final Years in 1980 and countered earlier biographies such as Albert Goldman's Elvis from 1981, with an in-depth, scholarly examination of Presley's life and music. Guralnick previously wrote about Presley in The Rolling Stone Illustrated History of Rock & Roll, in its first edition, in 1976; his article has been reprinted in each subsequent edition. He also contributed the complete text for the 240-page hardcover book accompanying the 2010 30-disc CD boxed set, The Complete Elvis Presley Masters.
In contrast to contemporaries such as Lester Bangs, Ian Penman and Nick Tosches, whose music writings are marked by idiosyncratic, self-referential and highly personal styles, Guralnick's writing is characterized by a colloquial approach that is clean and understated by comparison. He has been called "the dean of rock 'n' roll storytellers".
Peter Guralnick's parents were Walter Guralnick, DMD, who helped to establish dental insurance in Massachusetts through Delta Dental, and Betty Marson Guralnick. In 1971, he succeeded his grandfather as director of an athletic camp for boys, Camp Alton. It was located on Lake Winnipesaukee in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire. The camp closed in 1992.
He has been married for over 45 years to Alexandra. They have a son and daughter, Jacob and Nina.
Peter Guralnick (1964). Almost Grown. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Larry Stark Press.
Peter Guralnick (1967). Mister Downchild. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Larry Stark Press.