I have a review of SPLICE up at Crimespree Cinema.
I finished James Hynes' NEXT a few days ago. My husband read it first. We were drawn to it because of its fine reviews, its setting (Ann Arbor, MI-down the road), its milieu (academia-sort of), and because its editor's publishing Megan's next book. (I wanted to see what sort of book interested her.)
NEXT is an unusual and highly original book. Much like in MRS. DALLOWAY (although in NEXT we are only privy to just one person's interior thoughts), we spend a single day inside our narrator's head, watching him go about his often prosaic business. (How many of any of our days are anything but ordinary and yet we find it unusual in a novel)
In this case, Kevin Quinn has traveled from Ann Arbor to Austin on a job interview. He has a prestigious but rather dull-- and sometimes humiliating--job back in Michigan and is interviewing for a similar one. It's the kind of job one finds on the fringes of academia--for people who can't quite cut loose from their college town--underpaid and under-respected.
Kevin's fifty years old but seldom thinks about much other than the women he's loved. He's a bit pathetic, and what happens to him over the course of this half-day in the Texas heat emphasizes this.(And oh, how well Hynes captures Austin in the summer). We pity Kevin, we despair for him, we're bored by him, we're embarrassed for him, but mostly we identify with him. His thoughts are the sort we might have on a day when our future might be about to begin in a new place .
The final quarter of the book makes what has gone before it resonate. It also shatters our idea of what all of it meant. It's a shocking conclusion (although the foreshadowing is there).
At one point, a cab driver tells our hero,"You need to pay attention, man." Kevin does need to pay attention and so do we. Or what happens "next" for all of us might come too early or too late.
What's the last book you read that still had you thinking a few days later?