Reviews

Publishers Weekly
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

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) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Library Journal
(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

This debut novel's opening section is titled "The Dark Matter," and it is dark matter indeed. As in a 21st-century Greek tragedy, Keith Corcoran has been single-mindedly focused on becoming an astronaut, achieves his goal, and is aboard the International Space Station when he learns that his only child, a daughter who shares his gift for mathematics, has been killed. Not long after, his wife reveals that she has had an affair and leaves him, cleaning out their home in the process. Keith returns from space to his empty house and is ordered by NASA to take some time off. He is a man of science, not emotion, and he struggles to mourn and begin healing. Adrift in suburbia, Keith begins to make human connections, first by having a brief affair with a neighbor and then through an unlikely friendship with a Ukrainian man, Peter. Their conversations might be stilted, but talking to Peter is the one thing that pulls Keith back to Earth. Verdict Not light reading, this is a moving story of loss, love, and mourning by an imperfect man. Kiefer has done extensive research in mathematics and the space program, so those interested in these areas should particularly enjoy.-Shaunna Hunter, Hampden-Sydney Coll., Southside, VA (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Publishers Weekly
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

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) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

*Starred Review* Numbers speak to Keith Corcoran much more clearly than to other humans. A mathematician, engineer, and astronaut, his first mission to the International Space Station is a triumph. But back on beautiful Earth, so small and precious, cruel subtractions occur. Keith's teenage daughter dies in an accident, and his wife leaves him. His shock and grief manifest as hellish migraines that threaten his glorious career. First-time novelist Kiefer tracks his stoic protagonist's plunge into a sea of confusion, chaos, and despair with a shimmering lexicon of fractals, space travel, and physics as well as a piquantly metaphorical sense of place. Unable to access or express his own feelings, let alone decipher those of others, Keith finds himself exiled on a suburban cul-de-sac in his empty house, which, like him, looks sound but is slowly being destroyed from within. Drawn into the struggles of his neighbors, including a Ukrainian immigrant longing for work in his chosen field of astronomy, Keith is forced to perform the painful calculus of his losses. Within a belabored yet nonetheless involving tragicomic plot, Kiefer illuminates the nature of a mathematical mind, depicts a dire failure of familial empathy, and translates emotions into cosmic and algorithmic phenomena of startling beauty and profound resonance.--Seaman, Donna Copyright 2010 Booklist