Bookwomyn, January 30, 2012 (view all comments by Bookwomyn)
It took me a couple of chapters to realize how much I was enjoying this book. It was a different subject ... no murders or other drama messing up the pages - just little vignettes of people's lives and interesting people they are. I love when I find a book that is totally off the 'norm.' And I loved this book.
Ann Shankland, January 20, 2012 (view all comments by Ann Shankland)
Rachman captures the personalities, narratives, and back stories of those involved in publishing an English-language newspaper based in Rome(think a less professional version of the International Herald Tribune), which is undergoing a slow and likely inevitable death. Yes, there were more dramatic, more political titles that I read, but in the otherwise grim year of 2011 I appreciated the humor, poignancy, and craft in the depictions of the characters, each one featured in an individual chapter. As a reader, you get to see an individual from both the inside and as part of the whole enterprise as viewed by other staff. I rarely have the luxury of reading a book twice (so many books, so little time), but I did so for this book.
Tan, January 19, 2012 (view all comments by Tan)
I had passed over this book a few times before deciding to read a handful of reviews, all of which praised The Imperfectionists. So I ordered it, along with a couple others, and was quite surprised at how much I enjoyed getting caught up in the lives of the various characters. The topic of a international newspaper business isn't anything I felt great interest in, but the superb writing style and short but rich character development really made this one of my favorite reads of the year. I look forward to reading more from Mr. Rachman.
Kayt, January 19, 2012 (view all comments by Kayt)
I'd be happy to read an entire book based on the life of any one of Rachman's "Imperfectionists". Each chapter is a tantalizingly, but fully realized, short story.
The Dial Press -
It really is as good as you've heard it is, and if you haven't heard someone raving about it, let me be that person. A member of that burgeoning category of book that declines to be easily identifiable as either a novel or book of short stories, The Imperfectionists blurs the two forms into something wonderful. Centered around the rise and fall of an English-language daily paper based out of Rome and started on a whim by a wealthy businessman, each chapter of The Imperfectionists focuses on a different character associated with the paper. It's a hard trick to pull off, but the revolving door of protagonists introduces a cast that is fully realized and wholly human, despite the slim page-count devoted to each one. That they drift in and out of one another's stories only serves to add depth to our perception of them. Interspersed with the often hilarious, sometimes gut-wrenching glimpses into the crew's personal lives is the story of how the paper came to be — a story about an inscrutable millionaire of whom Tom Rachman gives us only a hauntingly peripheral view. With its sucker-punch of an ending and it's fizzy blend of humor, despair, love, and hate, The Imperfectionists reads like riding a Vespa top speed through Rome: glimpses of a bigger picture that add up to something beautiful.
by Shawn D.,
Nobody's perfect, but Tom Rachman comes pretty damn close with his debut novel, The Imperfectionists. Through the lives of the eleven main characters (each with their own chapter), Rachman chronicles the rise and fall of a Rome-based international newspaper, which bears a striking resemblance to his former employer, the International Herald Tribune. Gossipy and fun, yet poignant and timely, The Imperfectionists marks the arrival of a wonderful new literary talent.
by Shawn D.
"Publishers Weekly Review"
by Publishers Weekly,
"In his zinger of a debut, Rachman deftly applies his experience as foreign correspondent and editor to chart the goings-on at a scrappy English-language newspaper in Rome. Chapters read like exquisite short stories, turning out the intersecting lives of the men and women who produce the paper — and one woman who reads it religiously, if belatedly. In the opening chapter, aging, dissolute Paris correspondent Lloyd Burko pressures his estranged son to leak information from the French Foreign Ministry, and in the process unearths startling family fare that won't sell a single edition. Obit writer Arthur Gopal, whose 'overarching goal at the paper is indolence,' encounters personal tragedy and, with it, unexpected career ambition. Late in the book, as the paper buckles, recently laid-off copyeditor Dave Belling seduces the CFO who fired him. Throughout, the founding publisher's progeny stagger under a heritage they don't understand. As the ragtag staff faces down the implications of the paper's tilt into oblivion, there are more than enough sublime moments, unexpected turns and sheer inky wretchedness to warrant putting this on the shelf next to other great newspaper novels." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
by Christopher Buckley, New York Times Book Review,
"The first novel by Tom Rachman...is so good I had to read it twice simply to figure out how he pulled it off....[H]ilarious and heart-wrenching."
by New Yorker,
"This acute debut portrays the world of neurotic journalists....Rachman...paints the characters' small dramas and private disappointments with humanity and humor."
by New York Newsday,
"Charming....The print newspaper may be an endangered species, but the newsroom — with its deadlines, quirky characters and investigative crusades — still makes for a good story."
by Dallas Morning News,
"Laced with humor, irony and compassion....[S]ome of the chapters are absolute gems."
by Seattle Post Intelligencer,
"The Imperfectionists will make you laugh and cry. It's the rare novel that can shift emotional tone effortlessly....Magnificent."
by Financial Times,
"Rachman is an admirable stylist. Each chapter is so finely wrought that it could stand alone as a memorable short story. Slowly, the separate strands become entwined and the line characters have drawn between their work and home lives is erased....[F]unny, poignant, occasionally breathtaking."
by Kirkus Reviews,
"A very strong debut. Funny, humane and artful."
by Library Journal,
"[A] polished, sophisticated debut."
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