New Bedlam: A Novel

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Penguin Press, 2007 - Fiction - 342 pages
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Meet Bobby Kahn: a smart enough, decent enough man of middle-of-the-road tastes and weaknesses, he's network TV's boy-wonder programming executive - or rather was, until the morning he was unceremoniously fired. Frantic to save face before the news gets out, he lunges for a job running a sorry family cable business in the cozy town of New Bedlam, Rhode Island. It won't take Bobby Kahn long to learn that the length in miles between New York City and New Bedlam does not do justice to the distance between the two worlds.

But that itself only begins to explain the gulf in taste and instincts between Bobby Kahn and the Kings, one of the more rewardingly dysfunctional families in recent American fiction. The patriarch, Dom, who made his fortune in car dealerships and lucked into a cable monopoly in the industry's dark ages, has ceded control of the three networks to his three quarreling children: Annie, the sincere na•f who runs Eureka!, the pretentious arts channel; Skyler, the cocky social climber who runs BoomerBox, the old-sitcom rerun channel; and the family black sheep, the obnoxious Kenny, who presides over the Comic Book Channel, a safe house for ill-socialized comic book devotees. Complicating matters, Bobby learns, is the extent to which the family is in foul odor in New Bedlam. The Kings' family secrets, and the enemies they have made along the way, are just a few of the obstacles Bobby has to overcome if he's going to turn around King Cable and make it back to the big leagues.

A bit The Devil Wears Pradatransplanted to Richard Russo country, New Bedlam is a richly entertaining comic novel whose spit-take-quality laughs carry with them a wealth of sharply-observed insights into America's culture industry and the people who control it, from an author who shows us he's completely unafraid of biting the hand.

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New Bedlam: A Novel

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Flanagan has authored a book on the band U2, a collection of conversations with musicians, and one novel,A & R . However, his current position of senior vice president of MTV International is the ... Read full review


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About the author (2007)

Bill Flanagan is Executive Vice President of MTV Networks. He is also an on-air essayist on CBS News Sunday Morning. He is the author of U2 at the End of the Worlda book about two years he spent circling the globe with Bono, and Written in My Soul, a critically acclaimed collection of conversations with Bob Dylan, Chuck Berry, Mick Jagger and other rock songwriters. He has written for Esquire, Spy, Rolling Stone, Vanity Fair, GQ, Men's Journal, and many other magazines and newspapers. Flanagan's first novel A&Rwas published by Random House in 2000.

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