aprilhenry (aprilhenry) wrote,

James Hynes’ Next: The most surprising book

I just finished reading Next: A Novel. I almost gave up on it. I complained on another thread that it seemed to be all one long reverie. Boy, am I glad I kept reading to the end.

It’s about Kevin, a smart, somewhat self-absorbed editor at a university press. He has hit 50 without ever marrying or having children - although there have been several long-term girlfriends along the way. In fact, he is living with one, Sylvia, although there’s a great deal about her that he finds shallow. When he sees an ad for a high-paying editorial job in Texas, he impulsively applies. Sylvia will be traveling on business, so he doesn’t even need to tell her about the interview when he gets called.

But the flight he books leaves him with several hours to kill. Basically, in the first part of the book he wanders around Austin reliving all kinds of memories, most of them involving women he has been involved with. The writing is fluid and evocative. The author writes well about sex, which isn’t easy to do.

But still, I was growing a little bored of past reminiscing. And then came the last third of the book. I don’t want to give away what happens, but it was if I had sat down to read a mystery and a wizard showed up in the last third. Except - the wizard made perfect sense. That’s a poor analogy, and I’m sure the author, James Hynes, could do much better. But what was a story that was stuck in the past immediately landed in the gritty present and the uncertain future. And everything that had gone on before made it just that much more fitting.

Read it. You’ll be glad you did.

(PS And email if you do! Would love to discuss!)

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Tags: james hynes
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