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Atmospheric Disturbances
 
 

Atmospheric Disturbances [Kindle Edition]

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

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Review

'An original and affecting novel, one that knows how to move from the comic to the painful.’ New Yorker

'Genuinely suspenseful, fresh and wry…Galchen is a writer to be watched.’ The Economist

‘A playful and moving novel.’ Daily Telegraph

‘Rivka Galchen’s “Atmospheric Disturbances” is playful yet profound, Murakami-esque yet original, analytical yet heartbreaking. It’s an absolutely stunning and unforgettable debut.’ Vendela Vida, author of ‘Let the Northern Lights Erase Your Name’

'Rivka Galchen has written a powerful novel about love, longing, Doppler radar, and the true appreciation of a nice cookie with your tea. “Atmospheric Disturbances” is fantastic.' Nathan Englander, author of 'The Ministry of Special Cases'

‘Reader, you are holding in your hand one of my favorite novels ever: Rivka Galchen's divinely hilarious, heartbreaking tale of Leo's search for his ‘lost’ wife Rema. This is a novel of Borgesian erudition, wit, and playfulness, though its obsessively pursued subject – as it rarely was in the Argentine's fiction – is love, the enraptured lover, and the mystery of the beloved, the intersection of love's fictions, realities, and pathologies. It is also as funny as any episode of the Simpsons (imagine Homer as a besotted and brilliant New York psychiatrist). The prose jumps with one astonishing observation, insight, and description after another. “Atmospheric Disturbances” delivers unforgettable joy.' Francisco Goldman, author of 'The Divine Husband'

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 Leo Liebenstein sets off to find his wife, Rema, who he believes has been replaced by a simulacrum.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 Sep 2008)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B002RI99R8
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 2.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #228,591 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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Extremely convincing, but not a good book 5 Aug 2008
By Alan Moore VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
The plot, such as it is, has already been described in detail, so here's the quick version: a middle-aged psychiatrist believes his wife has been replaced. The perfect set-up for a paranoia thriller, perhaps? Well, yes, but this is not the author's intent.

The intent is to accurately describe, from the narrator's point of view, a slide into psychosis. The author succeeds in this, and for that has my respect, Unfortunately, this leaves us with a novel of minimal plot.

The first half of the book attempts to preserve the mystery and keep the narrator's theory believable. Here, the author has my sympathy, as the last paragraph of the description on the book jacket reveals the truth about the protagonist's situation. The second half finally sees some narrative movement, but by this point, the novel has become rather tedious. Thanks to the publisher, what should be a slow, mysterious build-up in which the reader makes their own judgement becomes rather dull -- like watching the first half of The Matrix while Keanu Reeves tries to figure out the blatantly obvious.

Rivka Galchen must be an expert on the condition the narrator suffers from, and paints an extremely convincing first-hand picture of the neuroses and delusions of the protagonist, although one would expect most men in his situation to simply experience a mid-life crisis, and buy a sports car and attempt to woo 20-something girls. We receive no sense of reality, or even location, as we read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Magical realism makes for compelling reading 27 July 2008
By R. WEST-SOLEY TOP 500 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I've always loved the theme of doppelgangers, and this seemed like the perfect tale from the outset with its Stepford wife premise. The story is certainly original - a bizarre psychological mix of paranoia, delusion, and perceived realities - although it's not a realist tale in the strictest sense. Beneath the very odd surface it's an unconventional love story full of melancholy and sadness, and although it does feel slightly unresolved, the author writes such terse and eloquent prose - at times really beautiful. Writing against backdrops from New York to Amazonia, there's a touch of the magical realism of Garcia Marquez in there at times.

It's a novel of many layers and as such isn't an easy, throwaway read or something the reader will 'get' straight away - but it is compelling reading, and rewarding if you spare it the thinking time afterwards.
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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
4.0 out of 5 stars Ambitious first novel
If 'Atmospheric Disturbances' is a sort of thriller, it is unabashedly a cerebral and metaphysical one. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Paul Bowes
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 Alan Hansen
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 Amazon Customer
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