Infinite Ground

Martin MacInnes. Melville House (PRH, dist.), $25.99 (272p) ISBN 978-1-61219-685-5
“If it were up to me I would spend my whole life digging up the lost civilization of a single vanished person,” one character says in MacInnes’s invigorating metafictional debut. “There would be no end to the project.” The novel explores the bewildering, perilous progress of one such project: an unnamed detective’s attempt to track down a missing young man, Carlos, who works for a shadowy corporation. Complicating the search, some of Carlos’s family members and coworkers are actually actors,who can be hired by relatives looking to discharge tiresome familial duties or by companies looking to create “an appearance of optimal efficiency and hard work” in their offices. Operating on the assumption that no one disappears without a trace, the meticulous inspector (who is not named) examines every aspect of Carlos’s life, down to the state of his office equipment: “Out of invisible microbiota decaying on keyboard he was presented with an identity in crisis.” The evidence leads the detective to a secluded region of the unnamed countryside, a place of “great wilderness and biological eruptions” where reclusive tribes with strange rites are said to reside. Committed to his investigation despite his growing suspicion that it might be a ruse, an “adventure artificially framed” by unknown forces and for unknown reasons, the inspector risks losing his own sense of direction in searching for the missing Carlos. The strong experimental bent can sap the narrative of some of its vitality, though MacInnes’s vision is consistently involving and mesmerizing. With its bizarre anthropologies and dystopian portrait of a vast corporation whose malignancy is as murky as is it motiveless, the novel successfully infuses the detective story with the experimental energy of writers like Ben Marcus and Tom McCarthy. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 08/28/2017
Release date: 10/17/2017
Genre: Fiction
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