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The Infinite Tides: A Novel Hardcover – June 19, 2012
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“An astute, impressive, and ambitious debut.” ―Publishers Weekly, starred review
“[W]ith a shimmering lexicon of fractals, space travel, and physics as well as a piquantly metaphorical sense of place…Kiefer illuminates the nature of a mathematical mind, depicts a dire failure of familial empathy, and translates emotions into cosmic and algorithmic phenomena of startling beauty and profound resonance.” ―Booklist
“Arresting and haunting...What do we give up for our careers? What are we willing to sacrifice? For Keith Corcoran, in the stunning climax of The Infinite Tides, the answer is far too much. With intelligent and lyrical prose, this novel is at times heartbreaking... [A] remarkably self-assured debut. This isn't just the best first book I'll read this year; it may be the best.” ―Brooklyn Rail
“Smart, lyrical, deeply moving. The central character, a NASA astronaut who has touched the stars, must come to earth, as we all must. What he finds down here beneath the heavens is dizzying in its emotional complexity and pure aching beauty.” ―T.C. Boyle, author of When the Killing's Done
“The Infinite Tides takes as its subject an astronaut brought to earth by abandonment and bewilderment. His journey is into the unknown of common suburbia, which he inhabits like an alien, and in whose unfamiliar atmosphere he must be taught to survive. This is a subtle and moving novel, a re-entry and recovery story that eloquently inhabits the terrain of grief and endurance.” ―Antonya Nelson, author of Bound
“With astronaut Keith Corcoran, Kiefer will take you on an awesome American life odyssey from the International Space Station down to the lower depths of suburbia. This is a breathtakingly beautiful and honest rendering of one man's massive life crisis. Part Space Oddity, part Revolutionary Road, this is a magnificently original novel. There are moments in this book I will never forget.” ―Anthony Swofford, author of Jarhead
“This novel will break your heart and take your breath away.” ―Ayelet Waldman, author of Red Hook Road
“Maybe the most beautiful subject in literature, when it is handled with grace and intelligence, is the realization and release of long denied grief. Christian Kiefer created astronaut Keith Corcoran to travel that galaxy of earthbound loss and regret, after one brief and glorious trip into orbit. The Infinite Tides is the most emotionally and syntactically sophisticated debut I have seen, possibly ever. Keith Corcoran's space walk is so powerfully rendered, it keeps showing up in my dreams.” ―Pam Houston, author of Contents May Have Shifted
About the Author
Christian Kiefer earned his Ph.D. in American literature from the University of California, Davis, and is on the English faculty of American River College in Sacramento. His poetry has appeared in various national journals including the Antioch Review and Santa Monica Review. He is also an accomplished songwriter and recording artist. He lives in the hill country north of Sacramento with his wife and five sons.
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Top Customer Reviews
This is an illusion. While aboard the International Space Station, his beloved teenaged daughter Quinn dies in a road accident. Keith is stuck in orbit, unable to attend the funeral. When he finally gets home, his wife has emptied out their home and left.
This is one of the most chilling depictions of bereavement I have ever read. Quinn, like her father, was a mathematical prodigy. Like him, she saw numbers in color and had an instinctive relationship to the equations that govern the world. Keith believed her to be a part of himself, the only other person in the world capable of viewing the world through the same prism. And now she is dead.
Keith has been sent home by NASA to recover and finds himself in an empty home being eaten by termites (the one cheap metaphor in the book) on a barren cul-de-sac in a half abandoned subdivison. He is suffering from devastating migraines and trying vainly to make sense of a world that has suddenly become senseless.
He plunges into a sexual adventure with his randy neighbor Jennifer and begins to forge a tentative relationship with a Ukrainian immigrant, Peter -- an intelligent but deeply frustrated man with a passion for astronomy who is forced to work at a menial job stacking shelves at Target. The two of them hang out drinking beer, smoking weed and peering at distant galaxies through a telescope.Read more ›
The novel's other significant characters are a transplanted Ukranian named Peter Kovalenko, a mother named Jennifer who lives across the street from Keith, the mother's precocious daughter and Peter's wife. Peter, like Keith, is challenged by the need to begin a new life. He's a more interesting (and believable) character than Jennifer, whose behavior didn't strike me as credible.
Keith, on the other hand, is a convincing if not particularly likable character. A talented writer can make a reader understand and even empathize with an unlikable character, and that's exactly what Christian Kiefer does in The Infinite Tides.Read more ›
So begins Christian Kiefer's novel The Infinite Tides. With his arrival aboard the International Space Station, mathematical genius Keith Corcoran has finally fulfilled his life long ambition of becoming an astronaut, and his amazement at his own achievement is palpable. Rightfully so. He has dedicated his whole life to this moment. Then, while on a spacewalk, at the very pinnacle of his accomplishment, his sixteen-year-old daughter is killed in a car accident back on earth. His powerlessness in the face of personal loss is amplified as he gazes down helplessly from space on the world scrolling beneath him, the language of numbers--gorgeously rendered--suddenly no longer the comfort they had been:
"Watch them now: the numbers as if stretched upon a wire. The sixes stacked astride the decimal.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Overall, I really dug this novel. I will say, however, it's way too wordy. The same story could have been told in about 80 less pages. That's my only complaint. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Rico
The Infinite Tides unfolds into a story about a grieving astronaut that is relentless in its integrity. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Maureen O'Leary Wanket
This is a difficult book to read - almost everything about it is sad and heavy. An astronaut is at the pinnacle of his dream - he's made it into space, and floats high above earth... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Jonathan Robbins
Downloaded this novel immediately after finishing The Animals. This of course was a totally different storyline but it was another quick read where I was totally immersed in the... Read morePublished 8 months ago by Jannie
One of the most amazing, beautiful, heart-rendering books I have ever had the pleasure of reading. Kiefer's writing is elegant--even poetic at times. Read morePublished 11 months ago by Cheryl Ramsden
This is a great novel, I have read it multiple times and it never gets old. I work in a library and surrounded by a great deal of awesome books every now and then I find myself... Read morePublished 11 months ago by Aaron