American Innovations: Stories by Rivka Galchen
Rivka Galchen Is Not Your Mommy
The thirtysomething characters in ‘American Innovations,’ her vital, intelligent, new collection of stories, have trouble growing up
Atmospheric Disturbances, Rivka Galchen’s first book, was one of the most celebrated novelistic debuts of the last several years. The story of a middle-aged psychologist who becomes convinced that his wife has been mysteriously replaced by an exact double—a delusion known to psychiatry as Capgras syndrome—Atmospheric Disturbances conjured the ghosts of Thomas Pynchon and Jorge Luis Borges, teasing the reader with cerebral conundrums about how we come to know ourselves and the world. When Leo Liebenstein decides that his wife Rema is actually a simulacrum, and then starts to get drawn into a paranoid fantasy about how the weather is controlled by a shadowy conspiracy, how is he to recognize that he is deluded, when the delusion itself sets the conditions of his understanding?