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The Infinite Tides

3.67  ·  Rating Details ·  522 Ratings  ·  111 Reviews
Keith Corcoran has spent his entire life preparing to be an astronaut. At the moment of his greatness, finally aboard the International Space Station, hundreds of miles above the earth’s swirling blue surface, he receives word that his sixteen-year-old daughter has died in a car accident, and that his wife has left him. Returning to earth, and to his now empty suburban hom ...more
Hardcover, 1st US, 398 pages
Published June 19th 2012 by Bloomsbury USA (first published January 1st 2012)
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Christian Kiefer
Feb 29, 2012 Christian Kiefer rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
I wrote it, so of course I feel obligated to give it 5 stars. But really you should read it and give it your own stars. However many you want. But five would be best.
Apr 07, 2012 Pam rated it it was amazing
This might be the best first novel I have ever read. I mean even counting the famous ones by dead people. The writing is rich and lyrical. The emotions complex. The math theory is super smart and compelling, without detracting from the emotional punch Astronaut Keith Corcoran's story packs. There are so may books these days where I think, this would have been such a good book if it had only been 100 pages shorter, but I could have read 400 more pages about these characters and in this voice. Bra ...more
Octavio Solis
Sep 05, 2015 Octavio Solis rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An incredible novel by a new writer who has just made a strong literary debut. I found this story utterly compelling, truly inventive and deeply layered with the most profound human insights. The craftsmanship, which counts for quite a bit with me, was really tight and nuanced. And yet it was almost invisible, by which I mean I was never distracted by the good writing. As I was captivated early on my career by Chaos Theory and the science of space exploration, I have sought out the works that re ...more
Amy Warrick
Jul 24, 2012 Amy Warrick rated it did not like it

This book is infinite, too. Don't expect big moments. Or action. Or likeable characters.

Well-written. Melancholy. Not for me.

Alana Jeydel
May 27, 2013 Alana Jeydel rated it really liked it
Stunning in its articulation of the vagaries of existence, the importance of living in the present, and the profound nature of human connection.
John Luiz
Aug 09, 2012 John Luiz rated it really liked it
In this novel, Kiefer has created a moving story about a mathematical genius, Keith Corcoran, who manages to fulfill his life mission of being an astronaut. The only problem is that when his teenaged daughter dies in a car accident while he's on an international space station, and his wife leaves him, he is left to deal with the consequences of the isolation he always sought out. Keith is a fascinating character. He feels more connected to numbers - which he sees in colors and treats as if they ...more
Mar 22, 2015 Bonny rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction, audio
I began reading The Infinite Tides almost immediately after I finished Kiefer's 5-star book, The Animals. I think I was expecting (and hoping for) more of the same – exciting plot, a main character I loved, written almost like poetry. The author himself had warned me that “My first book is a much different animal. It’s meant to have almost zero velocity (like a Henry James novel) and spins in one place (purposefully, I mean), so you may have to get into it in a different way.” Of course, he was ...more
Bessie James
Oct 28, 2012 Bessie James rated it really liked it
There are some very great things about this book, some very sad things but it is certainly worth reading. I have no experience with many of the central themes here -- a taciturn, driven main character, the loss of a child, the world of higher mathematics, and space travel. It's to Christian Kiefer's credit that he can weave these elements into a book that hooked me for it's nearly 400 pages. His descriptions of the lifelessness in the cul-de-sacs of suburbia are reflected in relentlessly stark p ...more
Feb 29, 2012 Corinne rated it it was amazing
I managed to snag a galley of this book as part of my research for an article I'm writing about Sacramento area authors. I love that part of my job, I must admit.

I don't even know where to begin to sing The Infinite Tide's praises. Kiefer does a fantastic job bringing you into astronaut Keith Corcoran's world, a world in which he is lost and longing to be back in space, where things made more sense. The characters are complex and imperfect, the narrative is moving. He obviously immersed himself
Sep 26, 2014 Miranda rated it it was amazing
I read for a living. I am lucky enough to read a lot of good books that way (and, okay, many that are, well, not so good). This was an especially good year, but even so The Infinite Tides was neck and neck with David Vann's new novel for best book I got paid to read in the last two or three years. And it has the distinct advantage of not being excruciating from beginning to end (this is not at all a criticism of Vann, Dirt is a powerful book and worth the agony, but whatever reviewer said Vann m ...more
Jul 24, 2012 Patrick44 rated it did not like it
I gave it one star because zero stars doesn't show up.
With the grammatical errors I am surprised this guy is a writing teacher.
This book had no redeeming qualities whatsoever.
It was boring and depressing. I read it all hoping that the idiot would
wake up and smell the roses. I suppose the author was putting forth
his theory that we are consistent in our behavior.
It reminds me a little of the book Something Happened in that the character
was a hopelessly self-involved jerk.
Mary Allison Tierney
Jul 07, 2012 Mary Allison Tierney rated it it was amazing
Finished it around 2 AM, immediately went outside and looked at the stars. If each chapter could be condensed, folding the words like Mad Magazine's fold-in back cover, matching the A and B arrows = poem.
Jodi Angel
Sep 03, 2013 Jodi Angel rated it it was amazing
This novel is filled with beautiful language and imagery, and beneath the surface is a story of grief set against the backdrop of numbing suburbia. I couldn't put it down.
Jul 05, 2012 Ken rated it really liked it
Christian Kiefer's mellow meditation on fallen astronaut Keith Corcoran's life, THE INFINITE TIDES, takes you into its ebb and flow through the gentle persistence of everyday happenings as they lap up against the spaceman. A victim of a different sort of space disaster, Corcoran is on an international space station when he is told that his teenaged daughter has died in a car accident. He remains on the mission for three months and has to view the funeral by tape.

This is all in the past, however,
May 28, 2012 Karen rated it really liked it
Let me start by saying I won a copy of The Infinite Tides through Goodreads First Reads. I love mystery and surprise and enjoy having the story unfold before me without any preconceived ideas or information that might spoil the plot or distract me from "hearing" the words of the author. I choose books by recommendation, rating, title, authors I like, sometimes cover art and usually the first line of the blurb (never more than that because it is TMI). Therefore, I knew nothing more about this boo ...more
Bonnie Brody
May 16, 2012 Bonnie Brody rated it really liked it
Keith Corcoran has known that he's wanted to become an astronaut for as long as he can remember. He has a goal and he follows his trajectory until he makes it. There is no word like failure in his personal dictionary. He has goals and when he makes them he attains them. A graduate of Princeton, he goes on for his Ph.D. in mathematics and engineering and it's not long before he's hired on with NASA and goes through official astronaut training. Meanwhile, he has a wife, Barb, and a daughter, Quinn ...more
Lisa Eckstein
Sep 02, 2013 Lisa Eckstein rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2013
The main character of this debut is an astronaut and engineer who attains his life's goal when he boards the International Space Station, where he will install and test a component that he designed. But during Keith's months-long mission, a tragedy strikes his family back home. When he is finally able to return to Earth, he's confronted with an empty shell of his old life. Keith longs to be back in orbit, where he was fully occupied with his work and the happiest he'd ever been. Instead he's aim ...more
Paul Wilner
Jul 03, 2012 Paul Wilner rated it it was amazing
he Infinite Tides
By Christian Kiefer
(Bloomsbury; 393 pages; $26)
The poetry of suburbia and space odyssey meet, successfully, in Christian Kiefer's debut novel, "The Infinite Tides." It's the tale of Keith Corcoran, an alienated astronaut who loses his teenage daughter to a car accident and his marriage to the consequences of that tragedy as he floats above the planet, wounded by migraines and Lear-like pain.

Grounded, he faces the reality of an empty ranch house, an empty life and the contemplati
Jun 25, 2013 Leslie rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, 2013
So, I haven't decided how I feel about the book yet. I have a lot of random thoughts, so feel free to comment on any, all or none of the following....

Of course I was sad when we found out Keith's daughter died, but the second saddest part for me in the book was when he found out he lost the pictures and personal items of hers in the storage unit. Really sad.

All the adulterous relationships in the story sickened me; however, I thought they were all very real in their depiction in how their selfi
Jul 27, 2012 Michelle rated it liked it
Keith Corcoran is an astronaut whose daughter died and wife left him while he was at the space station a few hundred miles above earth. This is an interesting, cringe-inducing setup. The character is in the atmosphere (no gravity, get it?) when he receives the most devastating news a parent can hear and there is no possible way to get home quickly. He has to watch a video of his daughter’s funeral several months after the fact.

We meet Keith when all of this has already happened. He’s back on ear
May 09, 2013 Drew rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It's interesting how the summary on the jacket about an astronaut surviving in an alien world could be so completely misleading and yet true at the same time. The Infinite Tides is in no way science fiction or a post apocalyptic "survival book"; not in the way you'd imagine. It's about a man's world being turned upside down while he's in an incredibly vulnerable situation. And it's probably one of the best pieces of fiction I've read.

The writer's ability to put into words some aspects of our th
Kristina Harper
Mar 31, 2014 Kristina Harper rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-fiction
I thought this book was stunning. The skeleton of the story is completely relatable to anyone with a family, a dream, a loss, expectations -- but then Kiefer fleshes it out by situating it in space, and it becomes intimate and infinite at the same time. It's beautifully written -- I only wonder how deep my appreciation might have been if I had understood the mathematics and the physics with which the story is peppered. All of that, unfortunately, was completely over my head. That the author, a p ...more
Jun 04, 2014 Roadside_picnicker rated it it was amazing
A very leisurely-paced meditation on grief and self discovery. I know, I know, rich white male flees his problems to the suburbs. Only this guy's an astronaut. And probably suffers from some disorder. By his attempts to grasp the world around him, we see that a lot of human nature does not objectively make sense. The protagonist is a mathematical whiz constantly trying to grasp the ungraspable: fractals, complex engineering problems, his wife's philandering and his daughter's death. This could h ...more
Ben Rand
Dec 27, 2015 Ben Rand rated it it was amazing
Loved this book.

"Know this. That the things that go into the fire are forever changed. That all you have ever done can be measured not by distance but by circumference. That these twin spirals of smoke: they are your life, rising in curls."

"I tell you now: There are no epiphanies. The place where you sit reading these words is the same place you have always been, your life ever-arrowing to the moment that is this moment and this one. And this. An infinite set spiraling in brightness, without mag
Jan 07, 2014 Lisa rated it really liked it
The writing was smooth - it was a great book to sink into over winter break. The story is told in just the right pace, the key plot points are revealed in just the right places. I found the ending predictable, but it fit the storyline. It was a confessional story full of honesty and self discovery. This is difficult to do because the reader has to like the protagonist to care about his journey, especially in this case because he is represented as largely passive. But that is the point of the jou ...more
Jerri H
Sep 02, 2013 Jerri H rated it really liked it
Keith comes back to Earth to a life without his wife who has left him and without his 16-yr-old daughter who died in a car accident while he was on his astronaut's mission. In the past, he was never present when he was with his family but he becomes increasingly present throughout the book, realizing his mistakes in the past. Sometimes it takes a book to remind me of the need to enjoy every moment with the ones I love.
Bruce Wunnicke
Jan 05, 2016 Bruce Wunnicke rated it it was amazing
Inspired is my feeling of The Infinite Tides. The raw and exposed emotion of family and self. Pulled through tragedy through friendship and slow, painfully slow honest appraisal of self. Enjoyed the science as metaphor for escaping a look in the mirror. Talented author and hope to read more of Mr. Kiefer.
Apr 23, 2013 Paul rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Lance Weller
Apr 18, 2012 Lance Weller rated it it was amazing
A wonderful debut filled with astronauts, Ukrainians, Starbucks and a wicked smattering of math. The muscular prose sweeps you in and carries you along with its deeply trenchant and clear-eyed observations. One of the best books of the year.
Aug 16, 2013 Vykki rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A good about with a wonderful story. About life, love and loneliness. I won this book on Goodreads. Thank you
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“And he believed it too, believed, in that moment, that the arrow he had made for himself would continue its long upward motion. As if there was no possibility of return, no aphelion or perihelion to chart the long spiral of his orbit around whatever false burning center he had made.
Know this. That the things that go into the fire are forever changed. That all you have ever done can be measured not by distance but by circumference. That these twin spirals of smoke: they are your life, rising in curls.”
“Know this. That the things that go into the fire are forever changed. That all you have ever done can be measured not by distance but by circumference. That these twin spirals of smoke; they are your life, rising in curls.” 0 likes
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