Karen Hansen's Reviews > Next

Next by James Hynes
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May 18, 11

Read in May, 2011

James Hynes' novel "Next" is very different than any book that I have read recently. It is very micro in story, but very macro in themes. The story follows the main character, Kevin, as he travels to Austin for a job interview. The entire story takes place in one morning/early afternoon from when he is on his flight until just prior to the interview. It is done in real time, following his every step as he has time to kill in Austin prior to the interview. Kevin encounters some trouble, but a lot of the story is very mundane/slice of life, until an epic final 20-30 pages of the novel, where it ends with a huge twist.

At first, I thought the novel was brilliant. Hynes does a great job at telling the story of a man in the middle of a midlife crisis and major changes. Kevin is a character who is reflecting on his life, but who lacks self awareness. Hynes does not spare any of the ugliness in Kevin. He feels real and honest. I found myself quickly absorbed in Kevin's life and I loved the details in the story, often times reading like stage directions. I found many of the statements in the novel to be profound.

However, what makes the book brilliant, also bogs it down. Hynes has written pages and pages of Kevin's rambling stream of concious. It becomes tedious and damages the pacing of the story. I felt like it undermined what was so creative and good about the story. I read in the authors notes that the story is almost like a blog entry and I totally agree. It feels very much like a rant in many parts of the story and I felt like those parts were the weakest.
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