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Atmospheric Disturbances [Kindle Edition]

Rivka Galchen
2.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Already much praised and described as ‘playful yet profound, Murakami-esque yet original…heartbreaking…stunning…an unforgettable debut’ (Vendela Vida), Atmospheric Disturbances is one of the most widely anticipated fiction debuts of 2008.

‘Last December, a woman entered my apartment who looked exactly like my wife…’ Dr Leo Liebenstein is convinced that his wife has disappeared and that she has been replaced by a double.

While everyone else may be fooled, Leo knows she cannot be his real wife, and sets off on a quixotic journey to reclaim his lost love. With the help of his psychiatric patient Harvey – who believes himself to be a secret agent who can control the weather – Leo attempts to unravel this mystery. Why has his wife been replaced? What do the secret workings of The Royal Society of Meteorology have to do with it? Who is the enigmatic Dr. Tzvi Gal-Chen, and is he, or maybe his wife, or perhaps even Harvey, at the center of it all? From the streets of New York to the southernmost reaches of Patagonia, Leo's erratic quest ultimately becomes a test of how far he is willing to take his struggle against the uncontested truth he knows to be false.

Atmospheric Disturbances is at once a moving love story, a dark comedy, a psychological thriller, and a deeply disturbing portrait of a fracturing mind. In this highly inventive debut, with tremendous compassion and dazzling literary sophistication, Rivka Galchen explores the mysterious nature of human relationships, and how we spend our lives trying to weather the storms of our own making.

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Product Description


`A playful and moving novel.'
-- Daily Telegraph

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. In this enthralling debut, psychiatrist Dr. Leo Liebenstein sets off to find his wife, Rema, who he believes has been replaced by a simulacrum. Also missing is one of Leo's patients, Harvey, who is convinced he receives coded messages (via Page Six in the New York Post) from the Royal Academy of Meteorology to control the weather. At Rema's urging, Leo pretends during his sessions with Harvey to be a Royal Academy agent (she thinks the fib could help break through to Harvey), and once Re- ma and Leo disappear, Leo turns to actual Royal Academy member Tzvi Gal-Chen's meteorological work to guide him in his search for his wife. Leo's quest takes him through Buenos Aires and Patagonia, and as he becomes increasingly delusional and erratic, Galchen adeptly reveals the actual situation to readers, including Rema's anguish and anger at her husband. Leo's devotion to the real Rema is heartbreaking and maddening; he cannot see that the woman he seeks has been with him all along. Don't be surprised if this gives you a Crying of Lot 49 nostalgia hit.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 471 KB
  • Print Length: 260 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 031242843X
  • Publisher: Fourth Estate; Collectors' Ed edition (4 Sept. 2008)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B002RI99R8
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • : Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 2.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #285,558 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Voyage around her father... 22 Aug. 2008
By Andy Millward VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
You might view this book as either a beautifully-written and subtly inconclusive thriller about a doppelganger appearing for a man's wife, a detailed analysis of the assorted neuroses and psychoses of a New York psychiatrist, a pseudo-academic treatise on meteorology, a hefty measure of autobiography in which the writer indulges in a voyage around her father, who as stated died in 1994 of a sudden heart attack, and/or a load of nonsense masquerading as fiction!

The blurb states: "Atmospheric Disturbances investigates the moment of crisis when you suddenly understand that the reality you insist upon is no longer one you can accept, the person you love has been somehow reduced to merely the person you live with, and how you spend your life trying to weather the storms of your own making."

All of which are true, though anyone reading the book could not help to think that the facsimile Rema is the real version and that Dr Leo has taken leave of his senses - maybe the fate of psychiatrists everywhere? Full marks to Rema for not giving up on him, though he appears every bit as gaga as his weather-changing patient Harvey (a name artfully chosen, I thought.)

On the other hand, maybe this debate is irrelevant. This is a closely-observed book in which not an awful lot happens but a great deal of time is spent deconstructing it in minute detail. At first it seems refreshing, though as time wears on you tire of Dr Leo and his anally-retentive ramblings. His tale peters out with speculation about how he might go on living with the doppelganger, though we have no word on what Rema's views might be on that. Maybe that's an opportunity for the next novel?

For me, the most decisive conclusion is that I want to visit Buenos Aires and maybe even Patagonia, though probably not with a self-obsessed American psychiatrist, nor with my wife or her mother or any of my clients!!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Ambitious first novel 27 Dec. 2013
By Paul Bowes TOP 500 REVIEWER
If 'Atmospheric Disturbances' is a sort of thriller, it is unabashedly a cerebral and metaphysical one. The story of Leo the troubled psychiatrist and his 'disappeared' wife Rema allows Rivka Galchen to make use of her professional grounding in psychiatry, as well as her familiarity with aspects of meteorological science, to construct a complex meditation on the nature of love and identity.

One might joke that 'Atmospheric Disturbances' is an extended riff on the implications of 'not being oneself'. But rather than posing and solving a simple mystery of literal disappearance and imposture, Rivka Galchen is more interested in tackling underlying epistemological and ontological issues: the fragility of identity; our frustrating inability to know other minds directly; the uncertainty of knowledge, of ourselves and others; the impact of loss on our sense of self; and our defensive habit, even in the face of the inexplicable, of seeking meaning, which always teeters on the edge of wholesale fabrication.

There is much more going on here than a plausible account of what it might be like to suffer a rare form of delusion. The theme of the doppelganger is well-established in fiction, as is the more modern tale of schizophrenic breakdown, and 'Atmospheric Disturbances' lies ultimately in that tradition of paranoid Gothicism, though with the historical Gothic's haunted-house set-dressings superseded by postmodernism's deceiving echoes and reflections.

The book is impressively ambitious, and its doctor-author is largely equal to the challenge of her subject: a real writer, not just a moonlighting professional.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Quick Reviews! 15 Mar. 2012
By carlosnightman VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I was drawn to this both by the Hitchcockian blurb and the reviewer comparisons to Murakami, but when you make comparisons to two of the greatest, chances are you're setting yourself up for a fall. Similarities to the film-maker and the author are lip service at best, and non-existant at worst. There are moments of course, but these are more from the overall plot and idea rather than anything specific in the contents. I'm sure there is an engaging plot here somewhere, but it's so crushed under the weight of science, ideas, ideals, and pseudo-philosophical talk about nothing that you feel that you're unwrapping a diamond ring style box only to find a 'screw you' sign inside.
The story opens at least with a man whose wifely has lately vanished but has apparently been replaced by a loveless doppleganger. Instances of the past relationship are seemingly just as loveless. Details dribble in about a plot involving a good old fashioned crazy patient and a secret conspiracy type quest. There is a journey, both literal and figurative, and eventually twists are revealed. It's more a Cronenberg style approach showing a descent into madness through ploys and devices rather than anything engaging.
Galchen is a clever woman- in fact she may be the smartest woman in the world and most importantly she wants to tell us this. She has clearly spent at least 5 years in school learning things such as languages, sciences, and geography. Not many of us can say that. Under my cleverly veiled wit I'm sure some of you will have noticed that I'm making fun of the author's approach- there is little or no attempt to hold a hand out to the reader and say 'I'm in charge, follow me and I'll reward you'.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars AD - its okay
This is a bizare account of a descent into psychoticness and out of reality. This is all about a man who's wife is not his wife (she has a dog and his wife would never have a dog)... Read more
Published on 29 July 2011 by DDS
3.0 out of 5 stars I get the Murakami reference
I can totally understand the Murakami reference - there is a stylistic relationship, certainly to Wild Sheep Chase and Wind Up Bird Chronicle but where Murakami is satisfyingly... Read more
Published on 21 Jan. 2011 by Richard Hammond
1.0 out of 5 stars Unreadable
There are quite a few negative reviews on here about this book, and I feel guilty for adding to the list.

I didn't read the whole book. Read more
Published on 20 Nov. 2009 by C. Robson
3.0 out of 5 stars Doing my head in
A psychiatrist who's clearly mad is always a good start for a narrative - think Hitchcock's Spellbound. Read more
Published on 19 Dec. 2008 by Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars Ultra-inventive debut novel
Idiosyncratic debut novel - all digressive, quirky, idiomatic phrasing (hints of Dostoevsky and Thomas Pynchon) and a very cleverly constructed plot: A psychiatrist discovers that... Read more
Published on 5 Dec. 2008 by Andrew Sutherland
2.0 out of 5 stars Don't bother if you like action rather than psychology
I believe the author intended this book to be one of the sort that makes you think, and makes you question yourself, and what you are reading. Read more
Published on 19 Nov. 2008 by S. Diment
2.0 out of 5 stars echoes of Pynchon
A book that uses an echo to The crying of Lot 49 for me might either be an inspired move or a pretentious self-referential literary exercise. Read more
Published on 14 Nov. 2008 by Mr. Nadim Bakhshov
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant unusual novel delving into the depths of mental illness
Leo one day discovers that his wife Rema has disappeared but has been replaced by her absolute double. Read more
Published on 23 Oct. 2008 by P. Sharpe
1.0 out of 5 stars Overwritten
I feel slightly fraudulent reviewing this, as I haven't read the whole book. Unfortunately I found the overwritten prose style unreadable. Read more
Published on 23 Oct. 2008 by Captain Pike
2.0 out of 5 stars Mind bending
I know this is really shallow of me but the cover of this book just kept putting me off everytime I tried to pick it up, even so I persevered as I studied psychology and the... Read more
Published on 16 Oct. 2008 by Clare
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