Tag Archives: newspaper

The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman

9th January 2012

*I received a copy of this book from Random House when I attended a tea there during BEA.

At first glance, Tom Rachman’s The Imperfectionists is a book about the men and women behind an international newspaper. In and of itself, that’s a great topic. There’s something intensely romantic – to me – about the newspaper, and I have to admit that I loved this book.

However, The Imperfectionists is more than a complex collection of stories. Each gives a glimpse into the life of an editor, journalist, or publisher, while peripherally adding to characters mentioned in other stories and simultaneously telling the story of the newspaper and its origins. Cyrus Ott, in the early 50s, starts an international (and unnamed) English-speaking newspaper to be near a woman he loves. Rachman doles out Ott’s and his subsequent heirs’ stories, as they continue running a paper with a decreasing subscription and an increasingly difficult market.

What Rachman has done I find interesting on a lot of levels. On one hand, his storytelling is similar to Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City in terms of each chapter being told by a different character. The subject matter, on the other hand, is quite different. The Imperfectionists takes a stark look at these characters’ lives – an old man, Lloyd Burko, who once wrote for the paper and is now desperate for work, pitching stories without any success; a middle-aged man, writing obituaries and ducking out of work early to be with his young daughter, Pickle; a news editor who shouts “Vigilance!” and builds up his best friend, only to realize he himself is the bigger man; Ruby, a woman so miserable, she sabotages herself at work but who actually loves her job.

I could easily tell you this book has moments of humor, love, and intense sadness, but the best way I can describe The Imperfectionists is to tell you it is an amazingly human novel. The writing pulls forth the mundane and exalts it, indicating that Rachman finds many aspects of life interesting. No one person stands out; instead, together, they work to make a combination short story collection and novel that impressed me, both in the telling and the writing.

A few of my favorite quotes:

“My past – it doesn’t feel real in the slightest. The person who inhabited it is not me. It’s as if the present me is constantly dissolving.” – Gerda Erzburger, feminist writer, to obituary writer Gopal.

“A couple of months later, Herman receives an email from Jimmy. It is long and rambling, full of philosophizing and poetic citations. Which is another way of saying he’s in splendid spirits with his daughter in Temple, Arizona.

The email, for no reason Herman can articulate, upsets him. He sees no reason to write back, and perhaps that is why.” – Herman Cohen

Other posts:

The New Dork Review of Books

Rhapsody in Books

Newsline Magazine

Attachments by Rainbow Rowell

8th August 2011

*I got this book from my library after reading about it on nearly every blog for the last several months.

My best friend Sommer is so funny – I mean she has me literally laughing out loud all over the place when we talk. And thankfully, she loves to read. However, she’s a bit more in to romance, and if you’ve been around for a while, you know my former issues and newfound love of an occasional romance. So when Sommer asked me this weekend for a really good book recommendation, I knew exactly what to tell her:  Attachments by Rainbow Rowell. It is far from a romance novel; however, it is a great book with elements of romance:

The people in Lincoln’s life think he is a bit of a dud. He’s 28, plays Dungeons & Dragons, and lives at home with mom, a fact his sister Eve can’t get over. But Lincoln is stuck. He had his heart broken young, and he just doesn’t quite know how to date or when to find the time. He spends his nights working for the local newspaper as an Internet security guy in 1999, building up to Y2K. In 1999, Lincoln was the guy everyone feared. When email gets flagged for words like “naked” or “menstruation,” Lincoln has to read the emails and send warnings to the offenders. It’s a cush job, but Lincoln feels badly about it, especially when Beth (a movie reviewer) and Jennifer (a copyeditor) get flagged. The two friends are not doing anything harmful; they just talk about their lives, and slowly, Lincoln gets hooked – especially by Beth – and latches onto the friendship in a way only a lonely, D&D-playing guy can.

I cannot quite tell you how much I really loved this book. Perhaps it’s because the romance is subtle and sweet. Or maybe it’s because the epistolary style of the emails, which can be so difficult to pull off, grabbed me just like it did Lincoln. Or maybe, as Jo says in her review, it’s because I liked Jennifer and Beth so much. Beth was a child of the 90s like I am, and there are some great pop culture references. Plus, the emails are funny and heartwarming, and the friends reminded me very much of my best friends, several of whom I met on the job.

All in all, Attachments was a purely enjoyable read; it’s funny, quirky, and I loved it.

Read this: in a bubble bath or with a glass of wine at your side.

Other reviews:

Read the Book

Word Lily

Unputdownables