Tag Archives: The Imperfectionists

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

12 (hours) to 2012 mini readathon

31st December 2011

I have exactly 8 minutes to get myself in some comfy pants and my new fuzzy slippers, beverage in hand and choose a book. If you’re at all interested, join Tasha, Becky, and I for our mini readathon today.


I went to the library last night and grabbed some books, so I could have even more reading options. In my stacks, I have the newest Diana Gabaldon, the newest M.C. Beaton, and older M.C. Beaton, The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton because both my mom and Matt of Guy’s Moleskine Notebook loved this one. I also have The Good Thief’s Guide to Venice. In my personal stack, I have The Woman in White, Murder on the Orient Express, The City of Ember, The Imperfectionists, and The Street Sweeper.

However, I’m going to kick this readathon off with an audiobook, so I can make my veggie chili (the Bear Creek bag is just what I use for the starter) and my roasted red pepper walnut dip. I love audiobooks for this very reason. I’m reading! But I’m not. ๐Ÿ™‚ I read for much too long this morning to be able to run to the grocery store until just now. I’ve also got my two favorite bubblies: Freixenet sparkling wine and Canada Dry ginger ale. I’ll update this post throughout the day.

Happy reading!

UPDATE – 3rd hour: I am still listening to my audiobook, The House of Silk. Long story, but I thought the book was finished when I first listened a few weeks ago, but the audio was messed up. ๐Ÿ™‚ So, I’ve taken down most of Christmas, cooked chili and eaten – all while listening. I have 2 hours left on it, but I’m getting sleepy, so I might switch to a book book.

UPDATE – 4th hour: Only an hour left on The House of Silk. Just made some roasted red pepper walnut dip with little toasties. Yum. Sustenance.

UPDATE – 5th hour: Have finished The House of Silk and half of a Charlain Harris Lily Bard mystery called Shakespeare’s Champion. Have a bit of a headache, so I’m heading into the kitchen for some water and Tylenol. ๐Ÿ™‚

UPDATE: 6th hour: Reading Shakespeare’s Champion by Charlaine Harris and about to head to my bff’s house for dinner and fireworks. No worries. Only a short break.

UPDATE: 8th hour: Home again and snuggled in a robe my bff gave me for Christmas. Of course, I had to turn the air on to enjoy it. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Champagne has been opened.

UPDATE: 9th and 10th hours: Still reading Lily Bard mystery and listening to the fireworks outside. Maddie is curled up next to me. We’re both enjoying the readathon.

UPDATE: 11th hour: I finished my last book of 2011: Shakespeare’s Champion by Charlaine Harris. Next up, I’m trying to decide between Rachmann’s The Imperfectionists or The Good Thief’s Guide to Venice by Chris Ewan. Decisions, decisions…

HAPPY NEW YEAR! Wishing you all love, joy, and peace in the new year.