Via The Believer: <-- Click over to read an excerpt.
At first glance, a novel about a middle-aged man who disembarks from an airplane in Austin, Texas, and kills a few spare hours before a job interview by stealthily tracking a hot (and much younger) woman to coffee shops and organic groceries hardly seems the stuff of high drama. But do not underestimate the technical chops of James Hynes, nor the size of his literary quarry. Next quickly hairpins inward, taking stock of both the personal and the cultural pasts of its protagonist, Kevin Quinn, and funneling him inexorably forward, into the now, with poignantly tragic results. At times it feels like nothing less than a state-of-the-art Mrs. Dalloway, from which the novel takes one of its epigraphs: “She always had the feeling that it was very, very dangerous to live even one day.”
Next begins with a horny older guy musing about his younger horny-guy past, and intensifies its backward-glancing scrutiny as Kevin loses the younger girl, is knocked down by a dog and cuts his knee, is mended and fed tacos by a depressed and defensive Latina physician, is dropped off at a mall to buy new pants, is delivered by taxi, finally, to his job interview, just as radio news of something bad in Minnesota penetrates (barely) his backseat solipsism. What happens “next” is the tragic payoff of Hynes’s investigation: even the most sentimentally recalled episodes from the past exert explosive pressure on our current lives.
Kevin is a flaneur of the mind, though less a gentleman of leisure than the possible victim of twenty-first-century trans-industry obsolescence putting his internal affairs in order before the biggest party of his life. An often witty eulogy for sex, youth, Sigourney Weaver’s Alien-era biceps, and American notions of financial and physical security, Next is a work of intense nostalgia that never fails to comment upon the present as well as—in its final pages of split-second daring, and optimism, and heartbreak—the future.
The Believer is a monthly magazine where length is no object. There are book reviews that are not necessarily timely, and that are very often very long. There are interviews that are also very long. We will focus on writers and books we like. We will give people and books the benefit of the doubt. The working title of this magazine was The Optimist.
The Believer is published by McSweeney's.