The Record will be publishing another Letter to the Editor from me sometime next week. Not about politics, but in response to a book review they published.
The book reviewed was X-Ray by Ray Davies of The Kinks. The review wasn’t terribly positive, but that wasn’t really my issue. It’s that the whole thing was littered with factual errors — names, who played what instrument, musical genres of particular songs. And that the book was finally dismissed as just another “sex and drugs” rock’n’roll memoir.
Even leaving aside that there isn’t that much sex and drugs, really (Ray was never a drug addict and isn’t that open about his sex life), the style of this bio is really unusual. To quote the Amazon description:
In this unique “unauthorized autobiography,” Kinks singer and songwriter Davies casts himself as an eccentric old man some 20 years hence who is asked to tell his life story to a young interviewer working for a world-ruling conglomerate called “The Corporation.” Eventually, the Orwellian subplot is overshadowed by Davies’s very personal account of his band’s many rises and falls.
So I really thought, man, this reviewer didn’t even bother to read the book.
So then I wrote a really mean letter about that, and sent it to both the letters page and the Book Page editor.
I heard back from the latter, saying that, you know, I’d like to print this, but you can’t go around accusing reviewers of not reading the books. And also, the letter is too long. (My letters to the ed are always too long.)
So I rewrote it, now stating that the book had not been read very carefully — but still pointing out some of the factual errors (in what was a really, really short book review), and my view that whatever flaws the book has, lack of originality isn’t one of them.
Whereupon it was accepted for publication. Of course, these things get published under one’s real name. And I started thinking, huh, this is kind of a small town, and boy, would it be awkward if I ever ran into the book reviewer at a party, or something.
Then the Book Page editor contacted me again, with a message from the book reviewer, who really wants to talk to me! So we can “discuss rock’n’roll”. Oh, boy.
Of course, I’m not really up for that. But I am in the phone book… Perhaps it’s time to invest in Call Display. 🙂