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Atmospheric Disturbances Paperback – 5 Mar 2009

2.9 out of 5 stars 44 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial (5 Mar. 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007276850
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007276851
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 1.8 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 2.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 478,073 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

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'

From the Publisher

Rivka Galchen's `Atmospheric Disturbances' is an extraordinary, mind-boggling and entertaining tale which will challenge the way you view reality. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Top Customer Reviews

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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By Paul Bowes TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 27 Dec. 2013
Format: Paperback
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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By carlosnightman VINE VOICE on 15 Mar. 2012
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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