cover image The Infinite Tides

The Infinite Tides

Christian Kiefer. Bloomsbury, $26 (320p) ISBN 978-1-60819-810-8

Poet and English professor Kiefer features, in his smart first novel, Capt. Keith Corcoran, “genius” mathematician, engineer, and astronaut working aboard the International Space Station, who discovers during his deployment that his 16-year-old daughter has died in a car wreck and his wife, embroiled in an affair, wants a divorce. Once back on the ground, Keith takes an indefinite vacation from NASA while battling recurring migraines and his sudden solitude, and hanging out at the local Starbucks, where he befriends Peter Kovalenko, an impetuous Ukrainian former astronomer presently working at Target. The two alienated men soon bond and share their various misfortunes while smoking pot, drinking beer, and stargazing through Peter’s telescope in an abandoned suburban lot. The bereft Keith divorces his wife, puts the house on the market, and strikes up his own sordid tryst with his promiscuous married neighbor, Jennifer. Keith’s stasis and confusion stem, in part, from his uncertain job status, but his newfound relationships enable him to strive toward a self that will persevere and survive his losses. Though occasionally rambling, this is an astute, impressive, and ambitious debut. Agent: Eleanor Jackson, Markson Thoma Literary Agency. (July)