Evening’s Empire by Bill Flanagan

I recently finished Evening’s Empire by Bill Flanagan, and if you are interested, you can read the full review here at MostlyFiction. I’ve reviewed for MostlyFiction for a few years now, and I enjoy participating as I read books I probably wouldn’t have found otherwise. This is certainly true of Evening’s Empire. It’s a terrific book that covers 40 years in the music business told through the eyes of Anglo-Irish solicitor, Jack Flynn. Flynn, an underling at a prestigious London law firm is told (not asked) to travel to Spain and take some dicey photos of Kristin Cutler–the adulterous wife of Emerson Cutler, a member of a band called the Ravons. Flynn goes out on a limb (read the book to understand the use of this cliché) to take the photos and this single incident changes Flynn’s life for ever.

Evening’s Empire is a wonderful, witty, entertaining and insightful read, and as a fan of classic rock, I enjoyed the journey through 40 years of rock history in this well-written, insider’s look at the dirty side of rock. I should be clear though, while Flynn, of course, spends some time in excesses of the 60s, this is not a well-worn odyssey of sex, drugs, rock n’ roll. The book is about how Flynn becomes a rock-manager and oversees the multi-million dollar business interests of the Ravons, juggling egos, personalities, fans, scandal, record deals, backstabbing and personal vendettas. Along the way, Flynn asks: how does a rock star grow old gracefully and still keep a fan base? If you have any interest whatsoever in the subject of rock, or the price of fame check out this book.

Author Flanagan, by the way, is a Senior VP and Editorial Director of VH-1, so he knows what he’s talking about. I tried reading an earlier novel by Flanagan a year or so ago, New Bedlam, and I couldn’t get into it. Evening’s Empire on the other hand grabbed me on page one and I stuck to it for the entire length–645 pages.

Anyway, there are so many quotes I marked in the book–far too many to include here. But I’m going to add just one:

“This was how it was for me going back to Difford, Withers, and Flack after I met Emerson Cutler. I had been content in my tidy little universe, but now that I had visited the other world, I could never again be happy with my desk by the steam pipe. For two weeks I heard nothing from Emerson. Like a jilted boyfriend, I tried to put him out of my mind. The rational part of me said that his intrusion into my life  had been only a brief interruption, a funny story I would tell over dinners for years ahead. But my work at the firm now seemed very banal indeed. I had seen the other world. I wanted to cross over.” 

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