James Hynes is the author of the novels "The Lecturer's Tale," "Wild Colonial Boy," the stories "Publish & Perish" (all New York Times Notable Books of the Year), and the novel Kings of Infinite Space. He lives in Austin, Texas.
At 55, Kevin Quinn is the kind of excessively worried man who makes women of a certain age grind their teeth. He is so averse to relationship commitment that he secretly flies from Ann Arbor, MI, to Austin, TX, for a job interview while his (sort of) live-in (sort of) girlfriend is out of town on business. Solipsistic to a fault, he rigidly judges any female he runs into by her physical attributes, no matter how casual the encounter. His one-day visit to Austin does not go well. Battling the crippling heat, he finds himself stalking the beautiful (of course) young woman who sat next to him on the plane, until he is injured in an encounter with a dog on a leash. A beautiful (of course) thoracic surgeon briefly comes to his rescue. Throughout all these misadventures, Kevin replays several intimate scenarios with past lovers. Hynes (The Lecturer's Tale) has an ability to evoke sounds, smells, and contempt that lures his readers to a place they don't see coming. VERDICT 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. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 11/15/09.]-Beth E. Andersen, Ann Arbor Dist. Lib., MI Copyright 2010 Reed Business Information.
"Hynes writes like Joyce on Quaaludes, in spiky, gorgeous language, with an eye for detail that is occasionally shocking in its apt particularity... Next occurs on one Bloomsday-like imaginary day and runs backward and forward in time to a heart-stopping finale that is one of the best endings of any novel I have ever read." Kate Christensen, author of The Great Man" "I already knew that James Hynes was the master of satirical, high-octane fiction but I did not expect him to be the genius of detail, too. Or to be so tender. NEXT - in which Kevin goes to Texas for a job interview and gets sidetracked by his lifelong quest for love - is that rarity, a lapidary novel of small compass and brief time frame which delivers a punch of global relevance. It is touching, shocking, intelligent, and - at least where matters of the heart are concerned - profoundly and subversively candid." Jim Crace, National Book Critics Circle Award-winning author of BEING DEAD" "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." Publishers Weekly, starred review" "As Kevin frets his way through the single day on which NEXT takes place, he envisions many different threats. But the true stealth attack in NEXT is the one launched at the reader by Mr. Hynes. This is a book that begins innocently and is careful not to tip its hand, even though there's something very unusual at work." Regarding Kevin, Maslin asks, "Will he have the temerity to change his life forever? Talk about temerity: Mr. Hynes yanks the rug out from under Kevin so drastically that his own temerity will not soon be forgotten....Finally this book arrives at a resolution that makes breathtakingly perfect sense." Janet Maslin, The New York Times" "NEXT is more than a cultural travelogue. It's a dervish of a tale that whips personal and social anxieties into an unforeseen, but perhaps inevitable, climax." Mike Shea, Texas Monthly" "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, in every sense of the word -- whatever that word has come to mean. NEXT is the kind of novel that leaves you reeling, almost speechless, frightened, scared to consider what it all means." Michael Schaub, Bookslut" "The last expert trick in this novel is that, despite playing with a certain medieval grimness, the book ends on an absurdly and rather lovely hopeful note. "Next" - that fatal word for the age-obsessed who fear the effect of time on their biology - has another face: There is a real future and a real way to be adult." Roger Gathman, Austin-American Statesman" "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." Justin Bauer, Philadelphia City Paper" "Hynes's novel contains many memorable passages and comic riffs; and his decision to shape the book around its high-stakes ending (50 pages of riveting, vivid, and unstoppable reading) does, ultimately justify and define the whole." Claire Messud, The New York Times" "At first NEXT seems to be just an exceptionally well-written comic novel about middle age. But with great subtlety and nuance, Hynes begins to move the narrative into deeper, more compelling territory.... NEXT is sui generis-an essential piece of American literature that is both of its time and ultimately without present compare; a novel that is about us, all of us, living our lives in the mayhem of our own particular drama, inevitably blind to the surrounding mayhem until it is much too late." Tod Goldberg, The Los Angeles Times" "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, reconciling what came before with whatever is to come in a seamless flow. NEXT may be Hynes' best book-and one that reveals his gifts as a serious novelist." Laura Bufferd, BookPage" "I'm a longtime James Hynes fan, but NEXT is one of the most surprising, delightful, compulsively readably and ultimately profound novels I've read in some time. I didn't know whether to cry or laugh or cheer when I finished it, so I just went ahead and did all three, then started over at the beginning." Laura Lippman, author of Life Sentences" "This macabre, funny, and very twisted satire of office life displays James Hynes as a wonderfully eccentric and entirely original writer." -- Esquire "Adrienne Miller" "Immensely witty.... A fast, funny ride through pretty peculiar territory." -- Washington Post Book World "Jonathan Yardley" PRAISE FOR KINGS OF INFINITE SPACE: "Very few novels can manage to be both hilarious and creepy, but this one does. Fewer still can show off their smarts without slowing down the plot, but this one does that, too." -- Salon "Laura Miller"