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The Imperfectionists

A Novel
Rachman, Tom (Book - 2010 )
Average Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5.
The Imperfectionists
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Set against the gorgeous backdrop of Rome, Tom Rachman's wry, vibrant debut follows the topsy-turvy private lives of the reporters, editors, and executives of an international English language newspaper as they struggle to keep it--and themselves--afloat. Fifty years and many changes have ensued since the paper was founded by an enigmatic millionaire, and now, amid the stained carpeting and dingy office furniture, the staff's personal dramas seem far more important than the daily headlines. Kathleen, the imperious editor in chief, is smarting from a betrayal in her open marriage; Arthur, the lazy obituary writer, is transformed by a personal tragedy; Abby, the embattled financial officer, discovers that her job cuts and her love life are intertwined in a most unexpected way. Out in the field, a veteran Paris freelancer goes to desperate lengths for his next byline, while the new Cairo stringer is mercilessly manipulated by an outrageous war correspondent with an outsize ego. And in the shadows is the isolated young publisher who pays more attention to his prized basset hound, Schopenhauer, than to the fate of his family's quirky newspaper. As the era of print news gives way to the Internet age and this imperfect crew stumbles toward an uncertain future, the paper's richnbsp;history is revealed, including the surprising truth about its founder's intentions. Spirited, moving, and highly original, The Imperfectionists will establish Tom Rachman as one of our most perceptive, assured literary talents.
Authors: Rachman, Tom
Title: The imperfectionists
a novel
Publisher: New York : Dial Press, c2010
Edition: 1st ed
Characteristics: viii, 272 p. ; 25 cm
Content Type: text
Media Type: unmediated
Carrier Type: volume
ISBN: 0385343663
9780385343664
Branch Call Number: FIC RACHMAN 2010
Statement of Responsibility: Tom Rachman
Subject Headings: Newspaper editors Fiction Newspaper publishing Fiction Reporters and reporting Fiction
Topical Term: Newspaper editors
Newspaper publishing
Reporters and reporting
LCCN: 2009033148
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Comment by: Jenbrarian Sep 30, 2010

The perfect antidote/chaser to Franzen's "Freedom" -- just what I needed to read!


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Sep 19, 2013
  • sharonb122 rated this: 3 stars out of 5.

I read this for our "Bookies" group. I enjoyed it. Each chapter focused on a different charater; all were interesting...some humorous, some poignant, others rather sad, but all were "imperfect." All worked for a small newspaper. It dealt with the dying industry of the printed newspaper today, which would make all the charaters obsolete. There was some loose interaction between the charaters that was somewhat hard for me to follow. The Headlines that titled each chaper was cleverly tied to the character and theme of the chapter. Well written

Mar 20, 2013
  • kleinkid7 rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

Like Russell Banks' Trailerpark, this is more a collection of separate character pieces anchored to the same entity (in this case, an international newspaper based out of Rome) than a single plot novel. It tells some good stories about some not so good people.

May 21, 2012
  • BTVS rated this: 3.5 stars out of 5.

The book reviews are overrated for this novel. The characters are not engaging, however the book is well written and certainly depicts an aspect of life as a journalist which I never would have envisioned myself.

The Imperfectionists are a group of people who work for, or are affiliated with, an English-language newspaper based in Rome. Each chapter presents a different character - Arthur, the lazy obituary writer, Kathleen, the imperious editor-in-chief, and Lloyd, a rather pathetic has-been, just to name a few. The individual stories and relationships intertwine, giving the reader an understanding of the many facets of human relationships. Taken together, these vignettes present a fascinating, poignant, sometimes humourous, sometimes painful, picture of 50 years in the life, and eventual death, of a newspaper. The author worked as a foreign correspondent for the Associated Press in Rome and as the editor at the International Herald Tribune in Paris, so he is well acquainted with newsroom politics and human foibles.
This is a first novel by Tom Rachman and it received excellent reviews.

Feb 04, 2012
  • Winnipeg1 rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Loved it all, characters, setting & plot. Perfect ending for the story. Great 1st novel, great addition to the CanLit shelves. More Rachman please.

Jan 05, 2012
  • lmcgovern rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

I really liked this book- each chapter tells the decades long story of the evolution of a newspaper located in Rome, Italy. Interesting characters with enough overlap in their stories to make it seem like a cohesive overall story.

Dec 23, 2011
  • patienceandfortitude rated this: 3.5 stars out of 5.

This is a very well written book and I did find it entertaining, but it was really too dark and disturbing for me to enjoy it. I would hate like hell to work with Rachman or know him personally for fear of some future portrayal. He is merciless in pointing out the flawed humanity he draws so convincingly. Show me the hope!

Dec 20, 2011
  • halgeon rated this: 3 stars out of 5.

Rachman's approach to presenting the characters was unusual, but I was left with a sense of several loose ends in some of their stories. An "imperfect" novel, perhaps?

Dec 19, 2011
  • AnneDromeda rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

For my money, 2011 has been the year of the debut novel. Without so intending, I've reviewed more than a few of them in this space, from Matthew Norman's smutty, snarky *Domestic Violets*, to paranormal romance sensation Deborah Harkness' *A Discovery of Witches*, to the vintage appeal and gentle romance of Erin McKean's *The Secret Lives of Dresses*, just to name a couple. I'm not sure why I've been drawn to so many of them this year; maybe it's that the authors pour so much of themselves into these novels? Whatever it is, thank goodness publishing houses have discovered them too, and decided to put the time and resources into marketing these newcomers.<br />

Perhaps the best-written debut novel I read this year is Vancouver author Tom Rachman's *The Imperfectionists*. A compact saga detailing the rise and slow decay of an English-language newspaper based in Rome, it packs a lot of humanity in under 300 pages. <br />

The novel is broken into two parallel narratives. One narrative focuses a chapter at a time on the lives of the various staff working at the paper. This is where Rachman's prose really shines – each chapter is really a character study of the personal and work life of the chapter's subject. Incredible empathy is brought to each character, even those who don't come off at all well in earlier chapters belonging to other characters. All these chapters are set at the end of George W Bush's war in Iraq, as the paper struggles to make ends meet in a fraught economic environment, battling it out in print-only format as the general news media's physical presence slowly fades to bits and evanescent silver LCD screens. Rachman slips seamlessly into the worldview of each subject, letting the personality colour his prose with humour, kindness, exhaustion, or whatever other dominant trait tints each particular worldview.<br />

Between each of the character study chapters are brief narrative chapters detailing major events in the history of the paper. These give context to the character studies, and help build anticipation as the reader moves toward the conclusion of the book – will the paper's staunch anti-electronic stance gain it a certain cachet in the market? Will staff be able to amp up their investigative skills and their feature writing to gain enough new readers? Can the paper possibly survive the strife in its Board?<br />

With a spare, empathic beauty to its writing, *The Imperfectionists* is a masterpiece of a debut novel. It's earned a place solidly within my list of top 5 reads for the year, and is well worth a glance for readers who value spare, lyrical prose in character-driven literary fiction.

Dec 01, 2011
  • gfabrey rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

insightful relationship analysis

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Jul 17, 2013
  • PaulaHoney rated this: 3 stars out of 5.

The book gives one chapter to each character connected by an international newspaper based in Rome. Most of the characters are on the newspaper staff, although some are mothers and lovers of newspaper staffers. The book jacket promises a meaningful connection between these many chapters, which is why I pursued the book. However, I did not find the connections particularly meaningful. The chapters, individually, are beautifully written and very sensitive to true human emotion. This is a serious, strong novel. The stories are not happy. Many of the characters deal with depression, loneliness, frustration, futility. The novel displays a bleak outlook on human life, as each person is on their own sinking ship.

Dec 19, 2011
  • AnneDromeda rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

For my money, 2011 has been the year of the debut novel. Without so intending, I've reviewed more than a few of them in this space, from Matthew Norman's smutty, snarky *Domestic Violets*, to paranormal romance sensation Deborah Harkness' *A Discovery of Witches*, to the vintage appeal and gentle romance of Erin McKean's *The Secret Lives of Dresses*, just to name a couple. I'm not sure why I've been drawn to so many of them this year; maybe it's that the authors pour so much of themselves into these novels? Whatever it is, thank goodness publishing houses have discovered them too, and decided to put the time and resources into marketing these newcomers.<br />

Perhaps the best-written debut novel I read this year is Vancouver author Tom Rachman's *The Imperfectionists*. A compact saga detailing the rise and slow decay of an English-language newspaper based in Rome, it packs a lot of humanity in under 300 pages. <br />

The novel is broken into two parallel narratives. One narrative focuses a chapter at a time on the lives of the various staff working at the paper. This is where Rachman's prose really shines – each chapter is really a character study of the personal and work life of the chapter's subject. Incredible empathy is brought to each character, even those who don't come off at all well in earlier chapters belonging to other characters. All these chapters are set at the end of George W Bush's war in Iraq, as the paper struggles to make ends meet in a fraught economic environment, battling it out in print-only format as the general news media's physical presence slowly fades to bits and evanescent silver LCD screens. Rachman slips seamlessly into the worldview of each subject, letting the personality colour his prose with humour, kindness, exhaustion, or whatever other dominant trait tints each particular worldview.<br />

Between each of the character study chapters are brief narrative chapters detailing major events in the history of the paper. These give context to the character studies, and help build anticipation as the reader moves toward the conclusion of the book – will the paper's staunch anti-electronic stance gain it a certain cachet in the market? Will staff be able to amp up their investigative skills and their feature writing to gain enough new readers? Can the paper possibly survive the strife in its Board?<br />

With a spare, empathic beauty to its writing, *The Imperfectionists* is a masterpiece of a debut novel. It's earned a place solidly within my list of top 5 reads for the year, and is well worth a glance for readers who value spare, lyrical prose in character-driven literary fiction.

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Jul 21, 2010
  • VanessaD rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

"Here is a fact: nothing in all civilization has been as productive as ludicrous ambiton. Whatever its ills, nothing has created more. Cathedrals, sonatas, encyclopedias: love of God was not behind them, nor love of life. But the love of man to be worshipped by man." page 38

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app06 Version tobio (tobio) Last updated 2014/09/24 12:25