Drucifer's Reviews > Atmospheric Disturbances

Atmospheric Disturbances by Rivka Galchen
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's review
Dec 19, 08

Uh, could've been worse I guess. The thing that bothers me about unreliable narrators is the way writers sometimes use them as cop-outs. Like, take Leo, for example. Yes, he's nuts, that's great. I love nuts people. The only problem is his narrative suffers from the same kind of (ILL)logic. The conclusions he comes to end up driving the narrative, but none of those conclusions make sense, which means we end up following Leo without really knowing why, except that in his brain everything makes sense. Of course, it doesn't make sense to us, a point exacerbated by the ending, which (spoiler here) solves nothing. The only conclusion I would've found more infuriating would've been a Lewis Carrol, 'it's all a dream!' schtick.

Yes, I get it: Leo is crazy and he'll never 'love' his wife again. Tres tragic, I know. But this should've been a short story. Leo ends up having the personality of a pool of piss, the bland kind that doesn't have a lot of uric acid in it. I'll forgive Rivka the masturbatory family photos and the pointless mythologizing of her dad, but can we talk about the layout of the book? You know, how chapters are short and end conspicuously by spilling their last couple sentences on an otherwise blank page? Hello maximization of blank page space to make what should be a character sketch *seem* long enough to be a novel.


Anyway, her weird scientifically poetic language was the one bright spot. And the pretty packaging, though it occurs to me now that the packaging probably amped up the price. So if Aunt Murtle hadn't hooked a brother up with the gift certificate that paid for this book, I'd probably be more pissy about that, too.
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