Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman

The ImperfectionistsThe Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I'm not sure I'm up to writing up my thoughts on this book, they seem pretty inadequate...but if I don't do it now, I probably won't at all. This is a really good book, a love letter to a medium that's (almost certainly) dying and a rich character study. Touching, funny, moving, and more than capable of throwing a surprise at you.

At the center of the novel is an international English language newspaper based in Rome. The story of this paper, from its founding in the 50's through its coverage of the U.S. Invasion of Iraq is told in brief (2-3 page) spurts between chapters telling us about the people who read and/or work for (and/or their families) the paper.

More than once, I was astounded by how invested I could be in a character I just met by the end of one of those chapters--each of these really could be a short story unto themselves. But when looked at as a whole--once you reach the end--it is a well-crafted novel, not just a series of semi-related short stories.

That's not to say that all the chapters are great--there were a couple that almost missed the mark, and a one flat-out dud (I felt I've read the story of the novice reporter being taken advantage of by the veteran a few dozen times).

From the other reviews I've read (at goodreads and elsewhere), it's easy to oversell or overhype this book--and I don't want to do that, nor do I want to undersell it. It's very good--not fantastic--not a "must read", but a "really, really should read."

View all my reviews