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The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman

The Imperfectionists (original 2010; edition 2011)

by Tom Rachman

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2,6441692,263 (3.69)273
Title:The Imperfectionists
Authors:Tom Rachman
Info:Quercus Books (2011), Paperback, 355 pages
Collections:Read but unowned
Tags:read 2012

Work details

The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman (2010)

  1. 00
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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 (161)  German (3)  Dutch (2)  Swedish (2)  Danish (1)  All languages (169)
Showing 1-5 of 161 (next | show all)
This book is about an English language international newspaper based in Rome. Each chapter is about a different person, mostly people who work for the paper in some capacity. There is small overlap in the stories, but each chapter can stand alone. Overall, found the characters and the writing to be not that exciting.

The one chapter I loved was from the perspective of a devoted reader of the paper. She read every issue of the daily paper from cover to cover, and she was about fifteen years behind. She had all the future issues stacked in her attic waiting to read. She doesn't talk to anyone about current events and lives her life in the past. Her world falls apart when she gets to the day when there is a missing paper. It was such an interesting premise and cleverly written. However, the book was disappointing overall. ( )
  klburnside | Aug 11, 2015 |
Did I really not already write this up? I have distinct memories of doing so relatively soon after I finished this.

ANYWAY, this was a treat to read. Interconnected chapters that could stand alone as short stories, about expats working at an English language international newspaper based in Rome. I especially felt it hit just right on the feel of Americans living in Italy. A few of the endings were really a knife twist, and so quick it would be possible to blink and miss them. ( )
  delphica | Jun 9, 2015 |
I loved this book until the very end when one unnecessarily awful thing happens--something that seemed totally out of place with the rest of the book and not something that added anything to the plot. I still gave the book 3 1/2 stars because I did enjoy most of it and thought that most of it was well written, but that event at the end ruined my enjoyment of the book, not only because it was something cruel, but also because it was jarring and because it seemed like the author got to the end and couldn't think of a good way to wrap things up. ( )
  carlym | May 11, 2015 |
The Imperfectionists is a very cleverly created novel made up from a series of stories about individuals and their experiences working in a newsroom for a Rome-based newspaper. The environment of the newsroom is very vividly captured with the observational style of a news article, and I found the characters and the vignettes about them to be creative, quirky, but realistic, sometimes sad/mean, and yet oddly humorous. The way the individual stories are interwoven gives continuity and builds a secondary story around the demise of newspapers. A unique and enjoyable book, though I wouldn't give it that extra star for great literature. ( )
  asawyer | Dec 31, 2014 |
This is a book about disappointment. The Imperfectionists is a series of short vignettes--each featuring a different character--ingeniously tied together with short interludes about their common workplace. It is populated with a diverse variety of characters, each of which has to face disappointment in his or her own way.

I did not like the character the author introduces to us in the first chapter--maybe the weakest in the book--and almost gave up right there, but I'm glad I didn't. The stories are interrelated, of course, and as you move from one chapter (and character) to the next, the relationships begin to emerge, adding weight and interest to the story that unfolds. Ultimately, you begin to see that through these short tales, and through the relationships between the characters, and the work that brings them together, the author is revealing the human condition; both the despair and the resilience that helps us persevere and find meaning in whatever life we have chosen to live.

Tom Rachman has pulled off an amazing feat in ultimately getting us to view these people without judgement; to accept them on their own terms; to root for and care for them in spite of their foibles. You may not like all of the people in these stories, but you will recognize and understand them. Rachman's ability to reveal the truth and humanity of each of these lost souls, turns a book about disappointment into an uplifting experience. The unique structure adds interest as well. ( )
  echasc | Oct 26, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 161 (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.
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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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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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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.

(summary from another edition)

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