For Sean Corrigan the past is simply what happened yesterday, until his twenty-first birthday, when he is given a journal left him by his father’s brother Michael—a man he had not known existed. The journal, kept after his uncle fled from New York City to Ireland to escape prosecution for a murder he did not commit, draws Sean into a hunt for the truth about Michael’s fate.
Sean too leaves New York for Ireland, where he is caught up in the lives of people who not only know all about Michael Corrigan but have a score to settle. As his connection to his uncle grows stronger, he realizes that within the tattered journal he carries lies the story of his own life—his past as well as his future—and the key to finding the one woman he is fated to love forever.
With the appeal of The Time Traveler’s Wife and the classic Time and Again, this novel is a romance cloaked in mystery and suspense that takes readers inside the rich heritage of Irish history and faith. Until the Next Time is a remarkable story about time and memory and the way ancient myths affect everything—from what we believe to who we love.
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Until the Next Timea novel
By Kevin Fox
Algonquin Books of Chapel HillCopyright © 2012 Kevin Fox
All right reserved.
JULY 5, 1996
"Read this," my father said as he tossed a leather-bound journal at my chest, trying to catch me by surprise. He did. Not because he woke me up at 6 a.m. but because he was actually giving me something. Aidan Corrigan wasn't exactly a hands-on, doting father. He believed children learned survival skills by surviving. Surviving him, mostly. I looked at the book with its yellow dog-eared pages. It smelled musty.
"What is this?" I was still half asleep, and I was asking the question in a general sense, meaning: "What the hell are you doing in my bedroom before the sun is up with a musty-smelling piece-of-shit book?" He took it literally, as always.
"Wha's it look like? You never seen a book before? It's a feckin' birthday present. What'd you expect, hookers and tequila?" He snarled, always the sentimental old man. I hated the way he slipped into a bogus brogue when he cursed. The only brogue he'd ever heard was secondhand, from his father, Jim Corrigan. And even my grandfather did his best to lose his accent as soon as he got to America. They all did. Back then, speaking with a brogue wasn't sexy or cute, and it didn't win you the hearts of women. If you spoke with a brogue, people assumed you lacked an education, money, and common sense. Most of the time they were right on all three counts.
Unfortunately, my grandfather's brother Sean (whom I was named after and who my grandfather came over to join as a partner in the creatively named Corrigan's Tavern) never lost his brogue. It may have cost him his life. Great-uncle Sean arrived here in 1921 when he was just sixteen, running from the original Troubles, I suppose. He never quite outran them, because on March 18, 1946, the morning after St. Patrick's Day, my father found him in the alley next to Corrigan's Tavern, the victim of an apparent mugging that turned violent. He was barely alive when they found him and only said one thing in Irish before he died. "Ni dhiolann dearmad fiacha," which translates as "A debt is still unpaid, even if forgotten." No one knew what it meant, but the police thought he probably owed the bookies some money. It was definitely possible.
The assumption was that after he locked up the bar, either the bookies showed up for something he owed them or someone pegged him as the owner by his brogue and tried to take the night's receipts. The strange part is that he had the cash in his pocket when they found him, a flask of whiskey by his hand, and his head propped on his coat. You would have thought he was peacefully sleeping off a "bout with the stout" if not for the hole in the back of his head. Maybe whoever tried to mug him was remorseful afterward, but it never made any sense to me.
Right now, neither did my father. He was still staring at me, waiting for me to say something about his sudden awareness of my birthday—a birthday I had forgotten myself. Well, maybe I hadn't quite forgotten it, but I certainly hadn't remembered it yet. Like I said, it was early, and last night's birthday celebration had only ended a couple of hours ago. My body's alcohol content was probably still over the legal limit, since I had been drinking to celebrate both being legal and to forget that my girlfriend, Sarah, had dumped me two weeks before. She was already dating some guy from Princeton, and I had seen her sticking her tongue in his ear at Conti's Pizza the night before. That's when the drinking started. Not that I ever liked her tongue in my ear—I just liked the idea of it in someone else's ear even less.
The way my father was staring at me was giving me a headache. To avoid the look, I opened the book, glancing through it as he lit his cigarette and flicked ashes on the floor, just like he always did right before he made an excuse to leave in order to avoid talking about anything real.
The pages of the book were worn and water-stained. The first page was headed "Notes for Dr. Sorenson," but Dr. Sorenson's name was crossed out, and next to it, someone had written "the Next Time" so that it now read "Notes for the Next Time." Every few pages was a dated entry. Inside the front cover was a name: Mike Corrigan.
"It's a journal," I muttered.
"Really? And your mother thinks you're stupid ..."
"Who's Mike Corrigan?"
He shrugged before I even finished asking, taking a long drag on his cigarette, as if he couldn't speak without smoke coating his vocal cords.
"You were named after him and your great-uncle. He was Michael Sean, and your great-uncle was Sean Michael. Names don't come from nowhere, boyo. He was my brother." As he said this, he stood up and was out the door before I could ask the question that kept repeating itself in my head: "What the fuck are you talking about?" I had no Uncle Mike. My father had no brother.
Shows you how much I knew. Shows you how easy it is to hide the past and change history when people refuse to remember. As I opened the journal once more, a newspaper clipping fluttered out. Dated December 10, 1973, it was a terse report concerning an American fugitive, Michael Corrigan, who was killed by MI5, the British Security Service. They thought he was working with the Provos, the Provisional IRA.
I felt like I was reading fiction as I went on, trying to focus on the faded type: "a former New York City police detective assigned to a joint federal task force investigating subversive groups up until the time he was arrested, accused of murdering a Negro civil rights worker in rural Pennsylvania. He fled from prosecution to Ireland earlier this year."
So. I had an uncle. I had an uncle who was an NYPD detective and killed by the British while working with the IRA, after he killed a black civil rights worker and fled the United States to hide in Ireland. And I had his journal in my hands. Fuck.
I started to read.
Excerpted from Until the Next Time by Kevin Fox Copyright © 2012 by Kevin Fox. Excerpted by permission of Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
For Sean's 21st birthday he is given a very unusual gift from his father a journal written by his Uncle Michael who he did not even existed as he was dead before Sean was even born. This along with a paid airplane ticket and a nice bank account of money. After Sean finishes reading the journal he realizes he must head to Ireland to find out the truth about his uncle. He is taken on a journey and learns that his Uncle was accused of shooting a black civil rights leader in cold blood and then fleas to Ireland. He will discover that his Uncle joined the IRA and was later killed as a traitor. I found the story to be confusing as it goes from the present, to the past with people being reincarnated to other people. His language leaves much to be desired and think all of it was not necessary. When Sean investigates his Uncle Michaels past he learns more about his heritage, the relatives and the dangerous situations they faced. I was not impressed with the book as I found it too confusing and hard to concentrate on the different characters I found it too hard to read so not enjoyable to me.
I agree with the reviewer who found this book very confusing. There are many books out there which involve incarnation that are better written and have better story/character development. This one just fell flat. The first chapter was interesting but went down-hill from then on. It kept going back and forth between the present and the past. I found the characters were completely unlikeable. I forced myself to keep reading by by page 150, I just gave up. There are so many other book that I would rather devote my time to will delete this book.
The back and forth from past to present makes this book interesting and captivating. A bitter sweet ending.
Excellent book. Great characters. You will fall in love with the characters in this book. They are not all nice people mind you. But they all have their reasons for what they do. Also, Ireland itself becomes a character. You will not be disappointed with this book.