Saturday 7 January 2012

Atmospheric Disturbances

What was it that Billie Holiday sang…..?

I can’t remember, but I’ve been considering impossibility.

But also because of the book I have just finished reading.

Which, incidentally, I had wanted to finish reading before returning home from London after New Year’s Eve so that I wouldn’t have to pack it into an already-excess-baggage baggage situation.

Which turned out to be impossible.

So i stuffed it into the pocket of my coat and I finished it on the plane.

It’s a book that, improbably, I picked up randomly from the Help-Yourself Shelf on a campsite in the Scilly Isles last summer knowing nothing more than that it was on the shelf looking for a home.

The title?

Atmospheric Disturbances.


Rivka Galchen.

Who’s that?

A female Canadian-American writer, this is her first novel.

It’s a love story mystery.

James Wood – a critic for The New Yorker – described it as “a contribution to the Hamsun-Bernhard tradition of tragicomic first-person unreliability.”

I have no idea what that means, I looked it up on Wikipedia and still don’t but I reckon unreliability and impossibility are pretty close, even if it is only in that they share bility.

But it was a damm good read.

This is by the way, but my favourite bit in the book was when the main character who may have lost his wife (the book begins – Last December, a woman entered my apartment who looked exactly like my wife.) and goes to Argentina to look for her, meets her (possible) mum – Magda - who asks him what Rema (his real wife)’s hair looks like now because she hasn’t seen her for a long time, though she thinks he is just a friend of Rema because Rema’s apparent mum thinks Rema is married to someone else and when she asked him if he was a friend he said yes.

“It’s very tidy. And a beautiful colour. Blonde like the inside of corn. She wears it usually in a low ponytail. Holds it in a wide gold clip. And it’s long and trim. And in the summer she pins the flyaway hairs back with neat little parallel hairpins that are a natural colour instead of just plain black. But she still gets these pretty little loose strands; they get kind of extra bleachy blonde-ish and wavy in the summertime.”

“You love her, don’t you?” Magda said.

Sometimes you can’t hide it.


Hey – I’ve just remembered what Billie Holiday sang!

The difficult I'll do right now, The impossible will take a little while.

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