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The Imperfectionists Hardcover – 4 Mar 2010

3.5 out of 5 stars 39 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Quercus; First Edition; 1st printing. edition (4 Mar. 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1849160295
  • ISBN-13: 978-1849160292
  • Product Dimensions: 16.2 x 2.8 x 23.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 525,076 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

'Rachman is an admirable stylist. Each chapter is so finely wrought that it could stand alone as a memorable short story... Funny, poignant, occasionally breathtaking novel' Financial Times.

'sketched with lively charm... loaded with charm and insight, the novel brings human tenderness to an inky business besieged by budget cuts and online competition' Daily Mail.

'Rachman has a real gift for capturing a life in a few sentences ... we realise the book has taken us through the 50-year life of the newspaper, and brought to life a moving cast of characters. By turns, funny and desperately sad, Rachman's always readable novel is a terrific debut' The Jewish Chronicle.

'A precise, playful fiction with a deep but lightly worn intelligence' Times Literary Supplement.

'Vignettes packed with poignant insights and laugh out loud dialogue, the reader is left amazed and delighted by this new author whose prose is reminiscent of Portman and Vonnegut yet wholly and wonderfully his own. Buy this book!' Canada Post.

'The Imperfectionists is alternately hilarious and heart-wrenching, and it's assembled like a Rubik's cube ... a cross between Evelyn Waugh's Scoop and Hunter S. Thompson's Fear and Loathing adventure ... (this) is so good I had to read it twice' New York Times Book Review. 'Hilarious and poignant debut... Rachman's strength lies in the rendering of the characters - all 11 are believable, flawed and lovable... The Imperfectionists is funny and prescient, but still full of hope' Yorkshire Post.

'Light-footed lyricism... a series of acutely observed character sketches and a poignant sense of nostalgia' Glasgow Herald. 'Anyone who has ever spent time in newspaperland will recognize The Imperfectionists' high degree of authenticity. So will quite a few people beyond' Guardian.

From the Inside Flap

The newspaper was founded in Rome in the 1950s, a product of passion and a multi-millionaire's fancy. Over fifty years, its eccentricities earned a place in readers' hearts around the globe. But now, circulation is down, the paper lacks a website, and the future looks bleak. Still, those involved in the publication seem to barely notice. The obituary writer is too busy avoiding work. The editor-in-chief is pondering sleeping with an old flame. The obsessive reader is intent on finishing every old edition, leaving her trapped in the past. And the dog-crazy publisher seems less interested in his struggling newspaper than in his magnificent basset hound, Schopenhauer. The Imperfectionists interweaves the stories of eleven unusual and endearing characters who depend on the paper. Often at odds, they are united when the focus of their lives begins to fall apart. Funny and moving, the novel is about endings - the end of life, the end of sexual desire, the end of the era of newspapers - and about what might rise afterward.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I bought this book based on the glowing reviews I'd read in the media. However, I found myself enjoying it less and less as I read. By the half-way point, I had to psych myself up to read it. Normally the writing style is what lets a book down for me, but I found Rachman's style unobtrusive and easy to read.

My main complaint was the vignette-like structure of the novel. Although a clever idea, I felt it was more like a collection of short stories than a novel. Each chapter focused on one character working for an English-language newspaper in Rome, while making only background appearances in the other chapters. I kept expecting the author to bring all the individual storylines together in a meaningful way, but I felt like it never really happened (although maybe I just never 'got' it!).

I also found it very difficult to care for any of the characters. Only a few were likeable and after the first couple of chapters it was apparent that we would never get a second chapter with each 'main' character anyway, so there was little point in becoming invested.

Overall, I would say that the book was well-written (which was mainly why I gave it 3 stars) and I would be likely to give Rachman's future work a read. However, the short story style and lack of emotion I felt towards any of the characters put me off, meaning that I struggled to finish the book in the end.
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Format: Hardcover
I loved this book and was constantly surprised and fascinated by the stories and characters that it contained. There is a common link - the characters all work at an international newspaper - and their paths are expertly inter-woven. However, each character's world is so expertly drawn that each 'chapter' is the equivalent of a fabulous self-contained short story. I have never read anything quite like it. It is perfectly possible to read just a chapter/story/character and feel satisfied but I could not - I wanted to find out about the next person, his/her life and his/her story. The observation of the characters is so detailed, and depicted so accurately that it is impossible not to empathize with each of them - warts and all. The full range of human emotions and experiences are contained within the stories - love, loss, denial, jealousy, anger, frustration, fear and revenge. It is sometimes very funny and at other times very sad. This book is ideal for anyone who is interested in people and what makes them tick; it is great for those who don't want trash but can't face anything too highbrow at the end of a long day and it will move all who read it. Unforgettable.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a set of linked short stories, each featuring a journalist (or an accountant or reader) associated with a failing English language paper in Rome. It's light and it's clever, but I found it did not engage me. We are not clear how characters come to be in the relationships they suffer from and that break up, so it is hard to care what is going to happen. Many of the stories depend on a twist in the last few lines for impact - and I found it wasn't that rewarding to have read the 20 previous pages to arrive at the denoument of the chapter. So: think carefully before investing the time in this novel and think whether it is for you, would be my advice.
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Format: Paperback
This book about the characters working in an international English-language newspaper based in Rome had me laughing out loud. Perhaps, as a journalist myself, I had a particular interest, but this intriguing novel, with each chapter told from the perspective of one of the newspaper's employees, is a first rate comic read. There are obituary writers hiding in the office corner hoping to reach 5pm without someone important dropping dead, old timers desperate for a scoop, self-important corrections editors, hopeless new kids who like the idea but not the reality of being a hack, ambitious editors with mixed up private lives, lonely sub-editors at war with the world, mad readers, reclusive publishers, hard-nosed managing editors. Working on a paper myself, I could spot each type immediately, and the descriptions rang so true -- Rachman himself has worked as an editor at the International Herald Tribune, from where you imagine that many of the characters emerged and were fictionalised. The chapter on Winston Cheung, the naive reporter trying his hand at being the Cairo stringer, while being manipulated and bullied by Snyder, a crafty veteran wearing khaki whose merciless amorality in pursuit of a story is hilariously described, is quite brilliant. The chapter on Ruby Zaga, the sad sub, also hits the mark, as does the one on the corrections editor, who is putting together a 'style guide' to beat all style guides... and driving his co-workers half crazy. The story moves along through the eyes of the characters, and a picture of the newspaper builds up... with budget cuts and redundancies always looming. It's a great journo book, if not in the class of Evelyn Waugh's Scoop or Michael Frayn's excellent Towards the End of the Morning. But still very good and very funny.
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By Julia Flyte TOP 500 REVIEWER on 8 Jun. 2010
Format: Hardcover
This is a novel about an unnamed English language newspaper based in Rome, told through the stories of a number of people who are connected to it. The newspaper was established in 1954 by an eccentric American millionaire and every second chapter briefly tells us more about the newspaper's history. In short: it's a disastrous enterprise that never makes money, fails to meet the challenges of the internet and where most of the employees are deeply unhappy.

Every second chapter - the majority of the book - is a character portrait of one of the individuals connected to the paper. The majority are employees of the newspaper (one is a reader), who range from the editor-in-chief through to the obituary writer and an occasional freelancer. Each chapter is a perfect little short story, while also contributing further to our understanding of the total picture. The majority are employees of the newspaper (one is a reader), who range from the editor-in-chief through to the obituary writer and an occasional freelancer.

There were three stories that I particularly liked. The bittersweet first chapter is about Lloyd Burko, a washed up foreign correspondant who is alienated from his family and has lost his touch pursuing the big story. He tries to milk his son as a source, but things don't pan out as he expects. Then there's Winston Cheung, a young want-to-be reporter trying to establish himself in Cairo, who is hopelessly steamrolled by another reporter vying for the same position. I also loved the beautifully written chapter about Abbey Pinnola, the newspaper's CFO, who ends up seated next to a man she recently fired on an 11 hour plane trip to the US.
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