- Hardcover: 288 pages
- Publisher: Hyperion; 1st edition (February 2, 2000)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0786865350
- ISBN-13: 978-0786865352
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 7 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,632,772 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Waterloo Sunset: Stories Hardcover – February 2, 2000
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From Publishers Weekly
Davies rose to rock stardom as leader of the Kinks, and chronicled that rise in X-Ray, his autobiography. This sharp but uneven debut short story collection examines the underbelly of the business that made his fortune. In the opening tale, aging British rocker Les finds himself washed up in late '80s Los Angeles, hungry for a record deal and a trustworthy manager. He connects with shrewd, manipulative Richard Tennent, himself eager to make quick money after the '87 stock market crash. Despite his suspicions, Les sets to work on a demo tape that will wow the bigwigs at United Records. His efforts dredge up the host of memories that provide the plots for most of the tales to follow. (Davies divides the collection into "Waterloo Sunset"--the first 20 stories, all linked by Les's memories--and seven independent "Stories," some of which feature Les.) In one tale, Les watches a rabid rock fan unravel after his girlfriend abandons him. In the next, Les's girlfriend, Donna, begins a dangerous flirtation with a vagabond painter. "Return to Waterloo," the final narrative, ventures inside the mind of a serial rapist riding the London Underground. Classic Davies songs (among them "Celluloid Heroes," "This Is Where I Belong" and "Misfits") provide templates and titles for a number of stories; some incorporate lyrics. This conflation of rock music and literature has its pitfalls, and the stories that close by quoting entire Kinks songs seem both self-serving and unfinished. Though Davies's fiction can be both inventive and grittily realistic, it suffers from a tendency to preach against obvious targets (money-grubbing rock executives, bourgeois British snobs). The loose narrative structure can also confound readers. Tighter editing could have made this a rewarding look into the music business. As is, it's a book only die-hard Davies fans will love. (Feb.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
These stories by the talented songwriter and lead singer for the Sixties band The Kinks show--John Lennon's In His Own Write notwithstanding--that great song-writing talent does not necessarily translate into the concomitant ability to write outstanding prose. What is one to make of this uneven, disjointed collection of short stories centered around a songwriter named Les Mulligan? Mulligan once wrote top-of-the-pop-chart songs and was lead singer for a band not unlike The Kinks. Now, he's in a deep personal and professional slump, shuttling between London, New York City, and Los Angeles, bemoaning the loss of his family and the celebrity he enjoyed in the Sixties and Seventies. He reminisces on the scamming, dishonest managers he's known and is bitter toward rapacious recording company executives who care little for the artists making them millions. Woven loosely throughout are actual song lyrics and the stories that inspired them. There's an unrepentant serial killer/businessman, an over-the-hill manager desperately seeking the next hot artist, and an assortment of seedy hustlers looking to broker the big deal that will change their sad lives. These back-stories add nothing to the songs and are simply not challenging enough for the discriminating reader. An optional purchase, but librarians who find that Davies's autobiography, X-Ray, is popular with patrons might consider acquiring this as a companion volume.
-Jo Manning, Barry Univ., Miami Shores, FL
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Top customer reviews
The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, and an all but forgotten band named The Dave Clark Five were part of the first wave. They opened the door, and The Kinks came blasting through with a killer single titled "You Really Got Me." The song, featuring a three chord change-up lifted from "Louie, Louie" was the first of many hits for the band. It was also one of their few lucky breaks; they were hounded by immigration problems, nervous breakdowns in and around the band, and internal dissension that has simmered for decades.
A good deal of the dissension in The Kinks was of the sibling variety, occurring between Dave Davies, the guitarist, and Ray Davies, the lead singer and writer of the overwhelming majority of their songs. Accounts of this are set forth in Ray Davies's autobiography X-RAY, which is quite entertaining even for those unfamiliar with the band. Ray Davies has now published a...novel?...collection of stories?...entitled WATERLOO SUNSET that, like his music, tweaks and toys with conventions of the medium in which he is working.
WATERLOO SUNSET, bearing the same title as The Kinks' classic tune of angst and nostalgia, is divided into two parts. The First, "Waterloo Sunset," is a series of vignettes dealing with Les Mulligan, an aging rock star who is attempting to jump-start his fading career. The narrative jumps back and forth in time and space as occurrences and places remind Mulligan of lovers and experiences of the past. At the same time, Mulligan finds himself out of touch, out of time, with contemporary music. A label is interested in him, but wants a "cutting edge" sound from him. He tries reworking some unfinished songs, but memories and a simmering madness, which threatens to boil over at any moment, keep getting in his way. Meanwhile, his erstwhile agent has his own problems.
Davies's story here is obviously painfully personal, and implicitly raises the issue of when, at what point, does a contemporary recording artist become a parody of himself. This is something that Davies, during his career, has struggled against; and has ultimately refused to do. Few, however, want to hear his new work. Where is the next "You Really Got Me"? Davies doesn't have one.
The second part of WATERLOO SUNSET is titled "Stories." This is not quite accurate. There are, indeed, short stories; but there is also a screenplay titled "Celluloid Heroes," after another classic Davies tune. Both stories and screenplay play and toy with principals introduced in the "Waterloo Sunset" portion of the book. Some stay true to character, some do not; what connects all of these offerings, however, both with each other and with the first part of WATERLOO SUNSET is a thin edge of sadness, of depression, of opportunities come and gone, of better times faded and lost.
It is not necessary to be familiar with Davies, or The Kinks, to appreciate WATERLOO SUNSET. Davies is a fine wordsmith and he has an ability to communicate, to gently and subtly touch multiple nerves with a few words. And, recent commercial failures notwithstanding, he is too talented to be considered a failure in any medium, whether it be music, literature, or whatever other form his art may take in the future. WATERLOO SUNSET is proof of this.
--- Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub
Its not really the same book as the original UK book, and it doesn't really work as a result
Stick to the original publishing, which worked very well I thought. I don't know why he rewrote bits and changed the structure of the book!