An impressive debut novel from NorCal poet, songwriter and recording artist Kiefer, full of achingly beautiful passages on loss and regret, yet leavened with self-aware humor and with wonderment at the banality of contemporary suburbia. Oh yes, there's also the comet on a collision course with Earth. Just read the first few pages... —Recommended by Jeff, City Lights Books
A stunning debut novel about an astronaut's return to earth and the losses he must confront—elegant, moving, and deeply resonant with our times.
Set in depleted, post-recession suburbia, with its endlessly interlocking cul-de-sacs, mega-parking lots and big box stores, The Infinite Tides tells the story of star astronaut Keith Corcoran's return to earth. Keith comes home from a lengthy mission aboard the International Space Station to find his wife and daughter gone, and a house completely empty of furniture, as if Odysseus had returned to Ithaca to find that everyone he knew had forgotten about him and moved on.
Keith is a mathematical and engineering genius, but he is ill equipped to understand what has happened to him, and how he has arrived at the center of such vacancy. Then, he forges an unlikely friendship with a neighboring Ukrainian immigrant, and slowly begins to reconnect with the world around him. As the two men share their vastly different personal and professional experiences, they paint an indelible and nuanced portrait of modern American life. The result is a deeply moving, tragicomic and ultimately redemptive story of love, loss and resilience, and of two lives lived under the weight of gravity.
Advance praise for The Infinite Tides:
"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. Coraghessan Boyle
"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, replete with images like tears glittering, suspended in zero gravity, 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
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.