Friday March 12th, 2010

Next by James Hynes

next-by-hynesNext follows a few hours in the life of Kevin Quinn, a middle-aged academic traveling from Ann Arbor to Austin for a job interview. Recent terrorist attacks in Europe have everyone on edge, and Quinn worries about his possible fate while reminiscing about a lost love. Publishers Weekly called Hynes’ fifth novel “funny, surprising, and sobering. . . . 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.” Those final pages get a lot of play in the book’s reviews, though critics aren’t giving anything away. In a New York Times rave, Janet Maslin writes, “Mr. Hynes encrypts so much foreshadowing into Next that there might as well be none at all. Little jabs are everywhere.” It all leads to “an ending that beggars description. . . . Finally this book arrives at a resolution that makes breathtakingly perfect sense.”

At Bookslut, Michael Schaub, who gave Next an enthusiastic full review, is still feeling the aftershocks: “I’ve been recommending James Hynes’ Next to anyone who will listen—neighbors, the clerks at the Plaid Pantry where I buy cigarettes, the audience of The Ed Forman Show (long story), my dogs, police officers who stop and ask me questions when they see me talking to my dogs.”

Next by James Hynes
Reagan Arthur Books, 320 pp., $23.99