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X-Ray: The Unauthorized Autobiography [Paperback]

Ray Davies
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)

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Book Description

1 Oct 2007
This is an examination of the life of Ray Davies, leader of The Kinks. From 1964 he has been one of the brightest, sharpest, wittiest and most popular of British musicians. Instead of a conventional narrative, Davies has set the book in the future as a confrontation between his aged self and a young journalist who is researching his life. The result is a caustic, witty and ultimately moving self-portrait of one of the most influential British rock musicians, a figure whose work with The Kinks has made him admired, copied and in some quarters, revered. It is also a picture of England from the fifties to the present day - and after.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product details

  • Paperback: 417 pages
  • Publisher: Overlook Press; Reprint edition (1 Oct 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1585679399
  • ISBN-13: 978-1585679393
  • Product Dimensions: 20.3 x 14.1 x 2.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,879,536 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


'We romp across the decade with flair: tales of power games with The Beatles, girls in lacquered hair... greedy deals in Denmark Street and immortal songs written from within in pits of despair' --Mojo

'X-Ray is that rarest of things: a rock star autobiography that is engaging, entertaining and well written, to boot' --Mail on Sunday

'Pop biographies rarely come more inventive than this' --The Times --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

The New York Times

'"X-Ray" is ample evidence that Mr. Davies is still a first-class writer'
--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars As idiosyncratic as its author. 17 Dec 2010
One would never expect Ray Davies to write a straightforward account of his life. After all, he has given us musical delights over the years which place subtlety ahead of the blatantly obvious and this approach continues in 'X-Ray'. Despite his manipulation of the autobiographical form, he is still candid and honest, although to what degree one can never be sure and that only adds to the enjoyment of this thoroughly gripping tome. I wish he would write a sequel, as this one ends in the early '70s and, despite what some may believe, The Kinks and Ray had much to offer well beyond that period. I would recommend anyone who reads this to follow it with Dave Davies' autobiography, which is more traditional in its style but heartfelt and equally essential. Between the two brothers' accounts the whole truth may be found...
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Quite poor really.. 28 Sep 2009
By Rufus
I bought this of Amazon to read on my holidays in Corfu. I had a number of books to plough through on the beach, but this was top of the pile and I couldn't wait to get at it. To be honest, I didn't know what to expect. I'd read the reviews which clarified nothing and after reading the book I still don't understand what Ray Davies was trying to achieve.
It's so obviously auto-biographical but written about some-one else. Ray tries to shock in parts, but this becomes nothing more than saucy postcard stuff and typical of the whole plot. Uninteresting, dull, pointless - I was so relieved when the final page appeared.
I love the Kinks, and I have Ray's narrative album, Storyteller, which is excellent in parts - but sometimes an artist pushes out into the wrong direction. Ray is a great songwriter, one of the best ever, but an author he ain't. Sorry Ray, two stars..
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not a good read 17 Feb 2011
By Tig
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I bought this book hoping to learn a little more about Ray Davies, I can't say that I learnt much. Ray Davies has an odd way of writing. He jumps from one point of view to another and at times I began to lose the will to try and keep up with him. To be fair I didn't finish the book, it was just too much of a chore. Why he chose to cloak himself in different persona I have no idea. It didn't work for me and from the reviews others thought the same. I really wanted to know mor about Ray but it was not to be.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
By Og Oggilby VINE VOICE
I originally bought 'X-Ray' in hardback when it was first published - I even saw Ray read extracts from it in a bookshop in Muswell Hill, a few hundred yards from where his family used to live. Ray autographed my copy, but when I got it home and tried to read it, I found that Ray had penned it as if it was being narrated by an unnamed third person, who is employed by an unnamed, Orwellian type 'Corporation' that seeks to surreptitiously 'own' Ray Davies. Anyway, I should have stuck with it, because the bits where Davies speaks in the first person are illuminating and interesting, and veer from the very precise and detailed through to the sketchy. Ray's overview of where The Kinks stood in he great 60's Brit Rock pantheon - alongside The Beatles, Stones and The Who - is especially revealing. Back in the day, The Kinks released a 'B' side called 'I'm Not Like Everybody Else', which certainly informs much of Davies' 'outsider' status. The well-publicised spats and sibling rivalry with brother Dave is surprisingly not featured heavily, but his marital breakdown with first wife Rasa is. Also, the numerous bad business deals and litigation, and the painful effect of same on Davies is well-documented in 'X-Ray'; also, his descriptions of the breakneck pace of The Kinks commercial breakthrough in '64 with 'You Really Got Me', both in the UK and abroad, is vividly recalled, as well as the complexities of his family upbringing. Having read this, and the following 'Waterloo Sunset', it's arguable whether Ray comes across as likeable as his brother Dave did in 'Kink', but, to steal the title of one of his songs, he's 'One of the Survivors', and for his music, I for one am glad, and glad that this book exists. Buy, but with a little caution.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Always intriguing 23 Jan 2012
Ray Davies's decision to write an autobiography seems a peculiar one when it is almost immediately apparent that he just wants to confuse the issue. Which issue? Every issue. The title itself is an enigma.

It's typical of his sense of humour that he's called this an `Unauthorized Autobiography', suggesting the following:

1. An acknowledgement that there can be no completely accurate version of events, as everything is subjective; if even his version is not authorized or authoritative, what hope is there for anyone else's attempt?
2. That the book has not been authorized by the powers that be, the mysterious `them' (the people in grey), referred to so often in the text.
3. That he is poking fun at the biography industry itself and perhaps other unauthorized biographies of the Kinks.
4. That he recognizes that he isn't always entirely honest. Or, at least, that there might be some truth in the book but probably not the whole truth. It's certainly not a straightforward read but we would expect nothing less or more of Ray. Or
5. He's simply playing with the words because he can.

The main title, X-Ray, is also open to interpretation:

1. It implies something that he mentions more than once in the book - that he is no longer the Ray from these stories, that that is an ex-Ray, inevitably changed and alien to the Ray now speaking. After all, `the past is a foreign country; they do things differently there'.
2. It gives the impression that he is going beneath the surface of the story, under the skin, like an X-ray, to reveal what is usually hidden. He brings this to the fore again in the final few pages when he has an X-ray of his back fall out of a folder.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
A very odd style of autobiography, but totally rivetting.
Published 1 month ago by Lynne McCulloch
5.0 out of 5 stars Thank you for the days
Ray Davies is a true original. Honest, direct in his songs and in his life. Still doing it. The man is a legend.
Published 4 months ago by Phil
3.0 out of 5 stars Weird
Told in the third person, but an autobiography nevertheless. he opened this up and read from it last year in his Nottingham concert - couldn't get any stranger than that. Read more
Published 15 months ago by Marty
4.0 out of 5 stars Class act
I read x-ray after reading Pete Townshends epic tedium. Being a fan of the Kinks I was pleasantly surprised by the fact that Ray Davies is an interesting writer, not just a... Read more
Published 19 months ago by Buttman
5.0 out of 5 stars Why I five star rated this Autobiography
I bought this book for my Husband and he has had his head stuck in it ever since, the comments he keeps saying about how well written this book is and how it reflects his own... Read more
Published 20 months ago by Irene Newton
4.0 out of 5 stars Pshychologically stimulating and factually interesting.
Ray Davies leader of the most influential group of the 20th century uses this autobiography to give the reader an insight into life in the `swinging 60s' and early 70s and outlines... Read more
Published on 8 Mar 2000
3.0 out of 5 stars My review will consist of the way the book was arranged.
The book was intrigiuing with its invention of new literary devices. Being younger than most of the crowd following Ray Davies I found insightful the comments mentioned about... Read more
Published on 12 Sep 1999
3.0 out of 5 stars My review will consist of the way the book was arranged.
The book was intrigiuing with its invention of new literary devices. Being younger than most of the crowd following Ray Davies I found insightful the comments mentioned about... Read more
Published on 12 Sep 1999
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