Elaine's Reviews > Next

Next by James Hynes
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Dec 02, 12

bookshelves: 2011
Read from March 05 to 08, 2011

I put off writing a review of this because I had mixed feelings, on the one hand, I had tears in my eyes and my heart in my throat as I read the last 25 pages, which had things of sheer heartbreaking beauty in them. On the other, I felt very manipulated -- bc of course it's heartbreaking and primal and incredible, but that doesn't really make up for, although Hynes wishes we would think it did, the some times aching tedium of the rest of the book, which in between sharp comic riffs on modern urban life in our medium sized hip university cities and moving meditations on aging, lust and settling/settling down, also has way too much numbing and repititive detail about Kevin's day. Soles are always heavy and slapping, feet are pivoting, air conditioning chilling, etc. etc. The lunch w. Dr. B doesn't work either, it's portentous and fraught in a very heavy handed way but none of it quite lives up to what Hynes seems to want it to.

That said, the memories of all the women Kevin's failed are poignant and well realized, the sex scenes for once do not bug, and the central conundrum -- that Kevin is 50 and still adolescent, still waiting in some very real sense for his life to begin, to be able to commit to love, career, parenthood, simultaneously beginning to decay and just starting out -- may seem absurd but rings painfully true (I know more than one Kevin). But that just makes the end a little more frustrating -- I can't tell if banal or genius -- because when you learn what it takes to make Kevin commit, you are at once moved and want to slap him, and yet taken aback at what is in fact, no commitment at all.

I could have given this book anything from a 2 to 4, even while writing this I've gone back and forth, so I'll go for the copout 3.
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