The subtitle of this little book is: ""Seven Comic Episodes In the Fitful Rise of BIG BOB TRAVIS From Disc Jockey In an Eastern Kentucky Mountain Town To Network-Television News Reporter."" And sure enough, Madden's new novel seems like an amalgamation of short stories--one appears in this year's Pushcart Prize collection (p. 556)--and again, as in Bijou and The Shadow Knows, his accurate, reportorial feel for popular culture is on display. Big Bob Travis spins country-and-western and talks dirty off-the-air with adventure-starved women (his wife for one). He does a remote from a recreational-vehicle dealership. He changes names as often as he does jobs. He oozes out on a for-women-only show: ""This is Daryl Don Donovan, your secret admirer, waiting for your call on this moist blue August morning. Listen sweetheart, if you've got an interesting response to my little sally this morning--Who had the greatest impact on your life?--I'd love to hear about it, so snuggle down in the sofa and pick up that white, scented telephone and--Well, there you are, my darling."" But no matter how phony Daryl/Bob is, the women who call in are just as lonely and sincere--and that paradox is the best material here. Unfortunately, though Bob does eventually become ""David Epstein"" of network-news fame, the book is shapeless: a pat string of radio vignettes, Madden's second recent novel (see Pleasure-Dome, 1979) to seem patched together rather than dipped and cast whole. Some fun, then, some impressive eye-and-ear observation too--but rather disappointing work from a writer whose best fiction (The Suicide's Wife, 1978) has promised a major talent in the making.