Next--James Hynes

Oh, this was not the book to end a year on.

And with that inauspicious beginning, I'll back up to recommend this book highly to everyone.  It has been a sleeper and so there hasn't been enough written about it to prepare me for its high-powered impact.  And I will say no more about that because I want you all to endure and enjoy the surprise the probably shouldn't have been such a surprise.

Kevin, from Ann Arbor, has gone to Austin to interview for a job there.  On the way he meets a young lady who entrances him and whom he stalks through Austin.  (She must be the most completely oblivious person in the world because they have several near encounters along the way, but she never seems to recognize or note him.)  After an accident ends his stalking (not in a really predatory sense), he chances upon another woman who helps to repair the damage and has lunch with him.  Woven throughout this seeming nothing of a story line is the history of Kevin's relationships with other women throughout his life, and the question of why he is here in Austin and where exactly is he in his life.

The book packs several powerful punches.  I have to say that it is, in parts, quite crude and yet it seems like a valid interior monologue (though I have to say that if I'm tracing the thoughts in my own head that actually occur in words, those words do not figure prominently in them) for an educated, intellectual person.  I never had trouble believing in and even sympathizing with some of the dilemmas that Kevin notes, although I must admit to having become exasperated by his inability to see what he was doing to himself.

The story is largely about how we put life on hold until life finally takes a hold on us and drags us through.  Kevin spends much of his life drifting--not charting a course, not making any fateful determinations, not doing much of anything other than looking at women and thinking about women and being with women and thinking about other women when he is with women. . . you get the drift.

The book, surprisingly works.  And equally surprising to me, it is deeply affecting, deeply touching, and mysteriously joyful.

I have to recommend it to all--but wait until next year--it isn't that far off.

Highest recommendation--*****

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