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Nextby James Hynes
Wow! What an amazing ending! Next is really an interesting book the ending makes it or breaks it, I think. Kevin is just your average shlub, who can't manage to do anything without being distracted by the women in the immediate vicinity. He's so all up in his head, and it's not really a pretty sight up there. He travels from Ann Arbor to Austin, Texas for a job interview. But before the interview, Kevin wanders around town following one woman after, all the while replaying in his head relationship highlights from his past. Without including a spoiler here, I can say that the end was absolutely unexpected, and it will frame, or reflect, or color, the way you feel about the whole book. Well done!
Synopses & Reviews
One Man, one day, and a novel bursting with drama, comedy, and humanity.
Kevin Quinn is a standard-variety American male: middle-aged, liberal-leaning, self-centered, emotionally damaged, generally determined to avoid both pain and responsibility. As his relationship with his girlfriend approaches a turning point, and his career seems increasingly pointless, he decides to secretly fly to a job interview in Austin, Texas. Aboard the plane, Kevin is simultaneously attracted to the young woman in the seat next to him and panicked by a new wave of terrorism in Europe and the UK. He lands safely with neuroses intact and full of hope that the job, the expansive city, and the girl from the plane might yet be his chance for reinvention. His next eight hours make up this novel, a tour-de-force of mordant humor, brilliant observation, and page-turning storytelling.
"In this funny, surprising, and sobering novel, Hynes (Kings of Infinite Space) follows Kevin Quinn, who has flown to Austin, Tex., for a job interview at the height of a terrorism scare. Kevin, an editor at the University of Michigan, has grown as frustrated by academic politics as he is by his relationship with his shallow girlfriend. On the flight, he sits next to Kelly, a beautiful and enigmatic young woman who reminds him of a great lost love of his youth. With time to kill before his interview, Kevin spends the first half of the novel surreptitiously following Kelly around Austin while reminiscing about his misspent youth and failed relationships. The casual but persistent self-absorption of Kevin's reveries is both funny and off-putting, and when contrasted with the threat of terrorism and his shadowing of the young woman, gives the novel a creepy energy that fully kicks in after Kevin is knocked unconscious, and Hynes pushes the plot into unchartered territory. The final 50 pages are unlike anything in the recent literature of our response to terrorism — a tour de force of people ennobled in the face of random horror." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Hynes has an ability to evoke sounds, smells, and contempt that lures his readers to a place they don't see coming....Fans of Elizabeth Strout's Olive Kitteridge will embrace Hynes's distasteful albeit oddly likable protagonist, and the shock value of the ending will cause considerable buzz." Library Journal
"Hynes is a rare writer. He is brilliant and humane, and he's created a novel that's as involving as it is dark, as compassionate as it is sad. It's a shocking, original masterpiece, and it is deeply, painfully American....Next is the kind of novel that leaves you reeling, almost speechless, frightened, scared to consider what it all means." Michael Schaub, Bookslut
"Kevin's wickedly funny rants about academic politics and air disasters alternate with his painful (and sometimes painfully tedious) cataloging of romantic humiliation....Through his neurotic Everyman, Hynes offers provocative insights into the troubling times in which we live." Booklist
"Hynes, a gifted comic novelist, is after something very serious here; he adopts a near-stream-of-consciousness narrative to tease at it, with Quinn more Dalloway than Bloom as he makes his way across the unfamiliar overheated Texas capital." Philadelphia City Paper
"Like Virginia Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway and Ian McEwan's Saturday, Next follows the events of a single day and relies on a subtle interplay of memory, trauma and thought....The reader hangs on breathlessly as Kevin's thoughts swerve from past to present and beyond....Next may be Hynes' best book — and one that reveals his gifts as a serious novelist." BookPage
About the Author
James Hynes is the author of the novels The Lecturer's Tale, The Wild Colonial Boy, the stories Publish and Perish (all New York Times Notable Books of the Year), and the novel Kings of Infinite Space. He lives in Austin, Texas.
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