Merry Wanderer of the Night + TIME

The Imperfectionists

I was a high school journalist, and when I started college I thought journalism was the path for me. It was amazing to me that even though I only did journalism in high school I could still relate to the woes of the many characters in The Imperfectionists

by Tom Rachman. I've always been of the opinion that the newspaper isn't dying, it's just reforming. But what does that really mean? The death of an international English newspaper based in Rome is one thing all of the characters in this book face, journalists or not, but they're also dealing with their own personal problems. Like the death of people around them, the loss of love, and the feeling that they should be doing something better with their lives.

The cover of this book says it is a novel, but I would say it's really more like a series of character sketches- which I loved! I'll be honest, sometimes I get kind of bored in a novel and I wonder who some of the characters actually are. I tend to read passages that go on for pages and never really realize who is talking. Since the other book I'm reading right now (The Passage) makes me do this The Imperfectionists was the perfect break from that.

Every twenty or so pages we are introduced to a new character that either writes for the newspaper or is related to it in some way. There are ex-boyfriends of writers and girlfriends of writers and freelance journalists who basically don't write anymore. Even though that might seem like there is no linearity, there really is. Characters walk in and out of other people's stories just like people do in real life. Not all of the characters are connected and, let's face it, not all people are related in real life. I got lost learning about these people, it felt like I was reading a diary and learning the most intimate secrets of their lives. Rachman has an awesome way of writing as well, it felt like I was watching these people through a window. I think it's the way he begins the sections, my favorite one was Arthur: "Arthur's cubicle used to be near the watercooler, but the bosses tired of having to chat with him each time they got thirsty. So the watercooler stayed and he was moved. Now his desk is in a distant corner, as far from the locus of power as possible but nearer the cupboard of pens, which is a consolation" (29). Rachman gives just the right amount of information for me to become interested in Arthur's life, get a sense of who Arthur is and how he connects to the people around him, and the way Arthur moves through his life.

So obviously I thought the writing was top notch. And the dialogue was fantastic as well, one of my favorite exchanges happens between Hardy and her not so perfect boyfriend:

"Can you do that again?"
"That thing you did before."
"Calling you Hardy?"
"No, the thing you did after that. The thing you just did."
"What thing?"
"She kisses him. "That thing. Keep doing it please.
Activities shift into the bedroom. (64)

The was not only laugh out loud funny, it was also realistic and sweet. I felt so many things reading this passage and I just wanted to keep reading. That was the thing for me about The Imperfectionists, I would sit down just to read one section and I ended up reading five. I just couldn't put it down. It wasn't that it was suspenseful or the story was just so good, but Rachman really made me want to get to know these people, and by the end of the novel I felt like I had just gotten back from a trip to Rome where I met some amazing journalists.

This is one of my favorite books of 2010 and so of course I'm giving it an A!

I also read this as part of the Drunk Literature Book Club. This was our first selection and as part of the club we're supposed to post a photograph of what we were drinking and/or eating while we were reading this book. I found this to be a great morning read so instead of having either of the suggested drinks I had some orange juice and toast.

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The Imperfectionists + TIME