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Infinite Ground

3.29  ·  Rating details ·  294 ratings  ·  72 reviews
A luminous debut novel of modern alienation, of the sinister beauty of the human body and of the enduring splendour of the natural world.

During a sweltering South American summer, a family convenes for dinner at a restaurant. Midway through the meal, Carlos disappears. An experienced, semi-retired inspector takes the case, but what should be a routine investigation becomes
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published October 17th 2017 by Melville House (first published August 4th 2016)
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3.29  · 
Rating details
 ·  294 ratings  ·  72 reviews

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Jeffrey Keeten
”Whenever he opened a book, now, he couldn’t help shivering at the fabric, the feel of the pressed paper and glued spine, the fluttering concertina of the open pages held upside down. He had an impulse to eat it. He felt the shivering irritation of chalk on gums, a cold, squealing unease across his shoulders and at the back of his neck. He heard the creak of the spine, felt the bend of the heft carried by his fingers, and knew it was impossible for him to enjoy it any more, holding a book like t ...more
Infinite Ground starts as a mystery. A young man named Carlos disappears from a family gathering at a restaurant; he goes to the bathroom and simply doesn't come back. An inspector is brought in to review the case. But traces of the absurd soon creep in. First, the inspector discovers that Maria, the woman he has been assuming is Carlos's mother, is not his mother but an actress employed to portray her. The real Maria, the explanation goes, is too distraught to be seen in public. Later, it trans ...more
Dec 24, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The book jacket name checks Nabokov, Cortazar and Angela Carter, but this reminded me more of Tom McCarthy, with a smidge of Conrad also. After a sluggish start, the book reads very quickly, and just when you think you have it pegged, it veers off in a different direction. Not one of my favorite books of the year, but novel enough to warrant 4 stars. PS ..not that it has anything to do with the story itself, but this is one of the most beautifully designed and bound books I've seen recently - th ...more
Renee Godding
May 19, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4-ish stars...

This is one of the weirdest book I have ever read...
If I had a nickle for everytime someone said to me "you have never read anything like this", and after reading I would conclude that I had most definitely read many things like it, I would be a rich woman.
Not this time; I ACTUALLY think I have never read anything like this before.

The book starts off as a regular detective novel, with the mysterious disappearance of man, and a retired detective being called in to investigate. H
Helen McClory
Oct 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The novel equivalent, in parts, of the Werner Herzog speech about nature in the forest. This book is an experience to read, a seething fever dream told sometimes with clinical detachment and at other times a hazy, experimental edge. My favourite part of all being the 'what happened to Carlos' chapter, for its formal inventiveness & crisp vibrant plurality. An experience to read. A book to recover from like an illness, but very good.
What did I just read?
I really need to sit and gather my thoughts before I attempt to write a full review.
Shall I Download A Black Hole And Offer It To You
plenty of people will hate this book and for good reason... it's a psychological, intellectual, and sensual battle for your attention... i loved it... the ideas and concepts brought forth in this book are spectacular and mindnumbing and scary and bizarre... Carlos disappeared, or did he? the chapter listing what may have happened to Carlos, or if in fact there is a Carlos, is worth the price of admission for this book all by itself... stunning... the "biology" created by the author is similarly ...more
Nov 08, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
This is a really good book, but it's one you need to keep an avid interest in. If your eyes remotely skim you may find yourself lost. It's... a wild ride of a book. Just when you get your head in one setting, the page is yanked from beneath you. Even when you get to the back cover, you can never be quite sure what you read. It's unreliable narration2. I couldn't give it the time I think it needs, but it's unlike anything I've read before, and will hopefully find the time to revisit.
Ignacio Peña
Oct 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
I love this book. This is a stunning piece of fiction, on so many levels. I don't quite know where to begin.

Firstly, I would outright declassify this as "crime fiction" (I recall seeing it shelved as Scottish Crime fiction at the Book Festival? I could be mistaken). The Inspector (our unnamed protagonist) is called to solve a missing person's case, but the details surrounding the case enter into the realm of the surreal from the very first interview, when the missing victim's mother gives her ac
A jungle of good ideas, rambling thoughts from a possibly mad narrators, and not much actual plot to speak of. The good ideas capture the imagination for their sheer surreal quality before squelching it with pages of intricate prose but ultimately plodding and substanceless internal rambling from the investigator. Is it weird? Oh yes. Does it build the mystery and hold clues to both the answer (if there is one) and the state of the investigator? Probably. Is it an absolute drag to read? Without ...more
Andy Weston
Very disappointed with this after selecting it from a couple of blogs and some inaccurately written synopses. The start is quite compelling, the disappearance of Carlos in a sweltering hot Brazilian city. From then on it takes most of the book until the setting changes to the jungle. By this time the author is using a few different techniques of writing which don't work for me, for example, a chapter called '20 Possible Ways In Which Carlos Could Have Disappeared'.
Certainly not for me, and I am
May 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
for the #shadowclarke

One of the greatest novels I've read all year. And this was a debut?
This is a very strange book, even for an existential detective novel. The plot follows "the investigator"--the choice to make it close third instead of first definitely opens up a strange distance between the reader and the text--as he searches for a missing man, Carlos, in an unspecified South American city. It's established early on that the investigator's search is a pattern of dead end/circular sequences. Some of these don't pay off (the streets duplicating themselves; the crowd on the stree ...more
Aug 01, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not a review, just a reaction.

What the fuck did I just read? Seriously, I think I really liked it, but it was fucking weird and I'm not sure if I understood it. But, if you like the weird and the surreal and books that challenge your perception of reality, you should pick it up.
May 07, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: failures
I read this through to the end - seemed that an award-winning first novel deserved that. I kept hoping it would redeem itself, but it only got more ridiculous as I read further. This book is an extended writing exercise from a Creative Writing class. Plot is irrelevant, style is what matters. Ok for a short story, but a full-length novel, arrrggghhhhh!

It is supposed to be a mystery. A young man disappears from a family dinner, and a veteran detective goes off on a search for him. But the plot di
Zuky the BookBum
DNF at 59%.

I was so ready to love this book for all it's weirdness. I saw so many reviews that stated this was a book you've never read anything like before, and probably never will again and that excited me, but, I've just lost interest.

I've tried to push myself hard with this one because I've been so intrigued for so long but I'm losing me head with it. It's so unique and weird that it just becomes confusing - or maybe I'm just simple - but I can't get on with a book that mixes up my head. Esp
Dan Coxon
Jan 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An incredible debut. Elements of J.G. Ballard, Angela Carter, Jeff VanderMeer, magical realism... but something else entirely. Weird, unsettling, and constantly surprising. Brilliant. MacInnes is clearly a writer to watch.
Joe M
Oct 24, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
First off, the physical copy of this book (UK hardcover at least), with its gold-inlaid design over sleek brown jacket is absolutely gorgeous. I'd love to own a copy of this but was happy to get an advanced reader's edition from Melville House this month. The cover also features a blurb from Jeff VanderMeer calling out Aira, Nabokov, Cortazar, and Carter, which is good company to be a part of! I would also put Tom McCarthy, Borges, and J.G. Ballard on that list, which I hope would convince just ...more
Brad Nelson
Feb 26, 2018 rated it liked it
somewhere between the spiral fictions of paul auster and stanislaw lem lies martin macinnes' hallucinatory interior, an evocative landscape in which minutes seem to widen and squeeze together like the bellows of an accordion, where the dense forest which makes up most of the interior's surface area seems to swallow any human settlement and any temporary perception acquired by the main character, an unnamed detective who moves through the story in a state of almost total confusion and uncertainty ...more
Rob Holden
Apr 06, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One part mystery, one part straight-forward police procedural, and two hefty parts surrealistic nightmare - Martin McInnes INFINITE GROUND is one of those rare books that successfully straddles the line between competing genres of fiction. Operationally it is, without doubt, a true police procedural - and one you might expect from a Scottish author (personal strife, crises of faith and existential conundrums abound). In style, the magical realist influence of the South American giants cannot be ...more
David Kenvyn
Dec 02, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Carlos has disappeared. He got up from a restaurant table and went to the bathroom. He did not come back. That, I think, is all that you need to know about the plot. What follows is a description of the investigation. This is not a police procedural or any of the other classic crime formulae. It is an investigation into the nature of reality.

So what do we know. The setting is somewhere in South America along the valley of the river Parana. This means that the country could be Paraguay, Uruguay,
Feb 12, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017
It starts as a crime thriller when a man disappears from a restaurant. But it doesn't stay that simple for long. At times it reminded me of McCarthy's Remainder. At times it reminded me of Conrad's Heart of Darkness. The writing often felt like Denis Johnson. None of those are bad things! It's an interesting book to read because it skates off in different directions every time you think you have it worked out. There's a passage in the middle where the protagonist walks through a crowd towards so ...more
Eric Anderson
Aug 08, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It begins like a caper story. A young man named Carlos went missing from a family dinner when he stepped out to use the bathroom and never returned. An investigator is given the case to track him down. But his search almost immediately folds in upon itself when he starts searching the restaurant/Carlos’ office and interviewing people connected to him. The woman he speaks to who he believes is Carlos’ mother is not really his mother and many people at his office are only actors hired to look like ...more
Ali George
Mar 11, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Jen Campbell described this on booktube as a 'marmite' book - which I kind of agree with, but not in the sense of love/hate. My feelings on marmite are that sometimes it's just right for me, but I can go for long periods without it. Infinite Ground is an interesting read, but being a post modernist text it's one that demands concentration, so not really the best thing to read before bed for instance.

The premise is interesting and there are lots of good ideas in here, the writing is good and it'
Erin Cataldi
Jul 26, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017
I have no idea what I just read. There is surrealism, madness, mystery, and adventure and the reader must decide what is real and what is not. A retired police inspector takes on a missing person case and decides that he must become Carlos in order to find him. When that doesn't work the inspector decides that Carlos must have escaped into the jungle and then goes deeper and deeper into his inner psyche and the jungle. It's beautiful and lush but hard to follow. Their are theories, what ifs, spi ...more
Laura Anderson
Oct 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016, scottish
Ah, what a wonderful book. It's intelligent, surprising, compelling and feels very original. There was a point where I was just so drawn into the story and thoughts of the Inspector that I couldn't put the book down, and ended up reading until the wee small hours to finish it!

The ambiguity of it almost made me mark this a four star read, because I'm not the biggest fan of it, and some strands were discarded, but I'm certain that would have been a conscious choice on the part of MacInnes. The who
Jonathan Crooks
Oct 16, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sell
Premise was very interesting but I felt that each chapter went spiralling into a pit of verbosity which detracted from some rather interesting possibilities. After one such chapter halfway through in which a single point takes 3 pages to make I ended up skimming the remainder not even bothering in the end to find out what happens.
Ben Richmond
A real meh and kind of a slog. You know those Paul Auster books where it's a detective novel but also the central mystery just gets lost along the way? It's like that but written by a big Gabriel Garcia Marquez (or, more likely even, a Caesar Arria) fan, who just saw Yorgos Lanthinmos's second movie. Still some passages were very lyrical or had nice turns of phrase.
Diane Morello
DNF 51%

I picked this up as an experiment, drawn into the description that treats the story as a mystery. However, I found the story incomprehensible, caught in surrealism, alienation and destruction. The main character was not enough to draw me in.
Jan 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is very good.
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