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Book Review: A&R
Bill Flanagan, Random House
By Anne Freeman, The Aspiring Songwriter®
(more articles from this author)
2003-01-28
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Title: A&R
Author: Bill Flanagan, © 2000
Publisher: Random House
Pages: 342

Author Bill Flanagan is the Senior VP of VH1, where he created and oversees the series Storytellers and Legends. A&R is Flanagan’s first attempt at fiction, having previously written the books Written In My Soul, Last of the Moe Haircuts and U2 at the End of the World.

A&R is an entertaining story that makes for a great read during a vacation or holiday. I wouldn’t recommend starting the novel during a busy time in your life, because you’ll inevitably stay up late every night until you finish it. Flanagan manages to draw you into this tale of “behind the smoked glass doors” of the major labels - with some wild and entertaining diversions - so that you’ll really want to know what happens next.

The main characters in A&R are not a whole lot different than you and me. They care about what they do. They worry about their careers, about their families. They operate in a world that at some points seems pretty day-to-day, pretty corporate, but then their worlds suddenly spin off into wild situations and madness, events that contribute to the reputation of the music business. Tucked between the tales of madness, intrigue, deceit and hilarious scenes are cameos of characters who are so vividly painted that you know you’ve met them somewhere, or imagined that people like that must exist in the music business, for better or worse.

The novel moves well, is never boring, is always interesting, and is fun to read. My only disappointment was that A&R wasn’t longer. Flanagan makes good use of letting situations and behaviors inform you about who his main characters are. But, I still wanted to know more about them, about what they thought and felt, and why. And that is a testament to the fact Flanagan managed to make me care about the people of A&R.


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