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A&R by Bill Flanagan

A&R

By Bill Flanagan

Pub Date: June 1st, 2000
ISBN: 0-375-50266-1
Publisher: Random House

Debut about the music industry by a writer who's in it and loves it, discords and all.

Thirty-year-old Jim Cantone has the ear and the feel, which is why he's been scoring so consistently as a rock ’n’ roll talent scout. Now multinational WorldWide Records, situated in the heart of Times Square, wants him to become head of its A&R (Artists & Repertoire) division. Wild Bill DeGaul, a seminal figure in the history of the industry, runs the company; J.B. Booth is his savvy second in command. Although Jim understands the downside of WorldWide—or at least he thinks he does—in terms of loss of independence, the money is hard to turn down. And, as the father of three-year-old twin sons, he does have a growing family to consider. So he signs on. At the beginning, the experience is nothing but positive. Marketing support from a company with deep pockets and an entrepreneurial spirit enables Jim to help develop deserving young performers in a way he never could have before. As for DeGaul and Booth, Jim comes to admire them both: DeGaul, the iconoclastic charmer, the music-industry visionary; Booth, the shrewd street fighter now turned man of business. Plus, he admires their friendship—so longstanding and seemingly impregnable. Except that suddenly it’s not. Ambition strikes Booth hard, and the Iago side of him, repressed though always present, breaks free. He wants power, maximum power, and all of it in his hands. As usual, he gets what he goes after. And also as usual, the price tag is higher than the one envisioned.

Flanagan, a senior vice president of VHI who has written extensively about the music industry, takes to fiction like an old hand. Fast-paced, funny, poignant, and, of course, sharply observed, this is first and foremost an entertainment. But Flanagan’s music industry is additionally a legitimate and unsettling metaphor for the way we live now.