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The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman

The Imperfectionists (2010)

by Tom Rachman

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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2,7471802,134 (3.69)275
Recently added bystephb6, seapetal, MaureenCean, private library, RenaeMcBrian, KimiJo5468, TheYodamom, laruebk
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    giovannigf: Office Politics reads like a direct predecessor to The Imperfectionists: a fairly realistic (and biting) satire of the machinations behind a literary magazine, described from the point of view of each of the main characters.
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    BookshelfMonstrosity: These character-driven novels use vignettes and ensemble casts to explore multiple plots and the relationships between characters. 44 Scotland Street is both comical and upbeat, while The Imperfectionists is more nuanced, complex, and thoughtful.… (more)
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English (172)  German (3)  Dutch (2)  Swedish (2)  Danish (1)  All languages (180)
Showing 1-5 of 172 (next | show all)
I saw this here somewhere and there was a link to the NYT book review. It was so glowing, I purchsed it right away on eBay. It was a decent book. It wasn't all that. But I suppose that the NYT is a newspaper after all, and this book is about a newspaper, so perhaps it was more meaningful to their reviewer. The writing was fine, but some of things just seemed incomplete, and the individual stories a touch too out there. Most folks, in my experience, lead pretty average lives. Worth the read though for sure. ( )
  MaureenCean | Feb 2, 2016 |
Very interesting view of the lives of a newspaper's staff in Rome. We get and first person, inside views of their day to day struggles with trying to keep the paper printing and yet have a functioning a sort of life. Fantastic character's ! ( )
  TheYodamom | Jan 29, 2016 |
Have you ever been enjoying a book so much that you feel like racing through it just so you can find out what happened to the characters at the end? Conversely, have you ever wanted to linger for an indeterminate amount of time over a narrative because you just didn't want their story to come to its inevitable conclusion? Well, I experienced both of these emotions simultaneously while reading Tom Rachman's The Imperfectionists. Each chapter revolved around a different individual with ties to the newspaper and each chapter heading was a different headline from the paper. At the conclusion of each chapter, a snippet of history regarding the evolution of the paper was inserted which coincided with the information the reader had just learned about an individual from the present day. It's a mystery to me how he wove everything together so effortlessly but I fully appreciated that the pieces of the story were all interconnected to create a cohesive tale about a newspaper with more drama behind the scenes than on its pages. A brilliant read which I highly encourage you to pick up and give a shot. ( )
  AliceaP | Jan 20, 2016 |
I had two ambitions growing up, one was to be an archaeologist (I probably watched too much Indiana Jones – the Temple of Doom was one of the first movies I remember watching in a cinema), and the other was to be a journalist. In fact, my ideal job was to write for National Geographic, wandering the world, penning these fabulous, insightful stories for everyone to read. I never quite made it there. I ended up at Singapore’s main newspaper, The Straits Times, as a content producer/online journalist, updating their website with news from the wires and working on the entertainment news site (the best part is that I got to write movie reviews, which of course meant going for the press previews!). Later, I had a blast at the free tabloid commuter paper Streats – fun colleagues, a great beat (mostly entertainment, with a focus on the local film industry, and the occasional general news stories – we were a pretty small team) – which made it so difficult to see the paper shuttered. Then, after being shunted off to the Sunday paper, my journalistic ambitions stopped short. Preparing for the Tuesday morning brainstorming meetings filled me with dread. I fell out of love with journalism. My six months there were six months too long and I was so relieved to be seconded to the sub-editing desk, even if it meant working till offstone (after midnight). There at least I felt like I knew what I was doing, editing, captioning, headlining, correcting other people’s pieces and making sure they kept to the house style.

Anyway, this is all just a long-winded way of saying that this might be why Winston Cheung’s story, of all the characters in Tom Rachman’s The Imperfectionists, was one that stood out. A young, somewhat naive wannabe stringer in Cairo, he finds his orderly life besieged by a veteran war correspondent, who turns up out of nowhere and pretty much pushes Wayne around, with the promise of a co-byline. I wanted Winston to speak up, to fight his bully, to work Cairo on his own, but I think I would’ve been equally pressured, hapless. It was quite a hilarious chapter, and such a memorable one.

The opening chapter features veteran correspondent Lloyd, who reports from Paris but is now more or less out of the scene. His wife is seeing their neighbour and his children aren’t exactly all that fond of him. Lloyd is desperate, broke and unable to convince the paper to accept his story ideas. Until he pitches something that sounds pretty newsy, something a bit hush hush, the source of which is the only son who is still willing to go out and have lunch with him. But things are not what they seem… let’s leave it at that.

Each chapter is a different character’s story. And they are tied together with the background of this newspaper, founded in the 1950s by Cyrus Ott. I wish I could tell you more about the other characters – staff and one reader (she’s got a fascinating quirk) – but that would make for too long a review. And plus I always have that useful excuse – the baby is crying (ok he’s not really, he’s in his bassinet and moving his arms around and occasionally grunting, but otherwise seems kind of contented, but soon it’ll be time for a feeding).

The Imperfectionists was a fun read – great storytelling, a nice variety of characters whose stories you want to hear more of. It definitely lived up to its buzz.
( )
  olduvai | Jan 19, 2016 |
This is a great book. Loved the way it was constructed and the way each member of the paper was structured like an article in the paper (complete with byline). Very well done. Reminded me of Updike. Too true to life at times (especially the end). Not 100% sure I want to reach a conclusion to it all other than we are all human and therefore imperfect day in and day out. ( )
  Charlie-Ravioli | Jan 18, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 172 (next | show all)
The novel is alternately hilarious and heart-wrenching, and it's assembled like a Rubik's Cube. I almost feel sorry for Rachman, because a debut of this order sets the bar so high.
Enjoy "The Imperfectionists" for the gem that it is.
"The Imperfectionists" is about what happens when professionals realize that their craft no longer has meaning in the world's eyes (think of all those hardworking monk-scribes idled by Gutenberg) and that the only people who really understand them are on the same foundering ship, and that, come to think of it, they really loved that damn ship for all it made their lives hell.
He's both testing and tender towards his people - their loneliness and purposelessness, moments of cleaving awareness ("one day, his son will die"), capabilities for love and commitment, devotion to kids, awareness of the fading future of a faded friend. It's convincing and compassionate; amusing and affectionate. In fact, it's a bit of a jewel.
Anyone who has ever spent time in newspaperland will recognise The Imperfectionists' high degree of authenticity. So – you hope – will quite a few people beyond it. The citadel may be crumbling, but the righteousness of the defenders, miraculously, endures.
added by lkernagh | editThe Guardian, DJ Taylor (Apr 10, 2010)

» Add other authors (8 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Tom Rachmanprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bachman, Barbara M.Designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
de Vicq de Cumptich, RobertoCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For Claire and Jack.
First words
Lloyd shoves off the bedcovers and hurries to the front door in white underwear and black socks.
If history taught us anything, Arthur muses, it is that men with mustaches must never achieve positions of power.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Wikipedia in English


Book description
Employees of an old-style English language newspaper based in Rome struggle with personal tragedies, dilemmas, and blunders while eyeing the rising tide of technology.
Haiku summary
Declining news biz/intertwined sad, fun stories/journalists' lives suck (ReadWriteLib)

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(see all 2 descriptions)

Preoccupied by personal challenges while running a struggling newspaper in Rome, an obituary writer confronts mortality, an eccentric publisher obsesses over his dog, and other staff members uncover the paper's founding by an impulsive millionaire.

» see all 5 descriptions

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