Tuesday, March 9, 2010
Simulacrums and Secret Agents
Title: Atmospheric Disturbances
By: Rivka Galchen
When psychiatrist Leo Liebenstein’s beloved wife, Rema, is replaced by a double, Leo sets off on a journey to find the real Rema. His search takes him to Buenos Aires, then Patagonia, as Leo considers all physical and metaphysical possibilities for her disappearance. In desperation, Leo seeks the help of long-time psychiatric patient, Harvey, whose periodic disappearances are purportedly due to covert scientific missions, as well as the online guidance of Dr. Tzvi Gal-Chen, a scientist and secret agent of the Royal Academy of Meteorology, an expert in parallel universes. When Leo discovers that Gal-Chen may have died some years previous, he puzzles over Gal-Chen’s ability to communicate via email. Leo may be off his rocker, yet, there is something oddly compelling and familiar in Leo's attempts to set his life, and perceptions, straight.
This is an inventive first novel by a talented physician turned author, a graduate from the Mt. Sinai School of Medicine. Her medical specialty was psychiatry. Interspersed with the text are the author's family photos--the author's father was, in real life, a meteorologist named Tzvi Galchen.
I was taken with the quirky characters, including the lovely imposter-Rema, and heartily enjoyed participating in Leo's somewhat ludicrous flight through time and space in hopes of discovering the truth regarding Rema's whereabouts.
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