Excerpt from The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

The Imperfectionists

A Novel

By Tom Rachman

The Imperfectionists
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • Hardcover: Apr 2010,
    288 pages.
    Paperback: Jan 2011,
    304 pages.

    Publication Information

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Karen Rigby

Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt


"All right," he says. "All right, then." He nods, sighs, and turns for the door.  

She comes out after him. He reaches to touch her arm, but she pulls away. She hands back the box of calissons. "I'm not going to use these."  

Back home, he runs through his contact numbers and ends up calling an old reporter buddy, Ken Lazzarino, now working at a magazine in Manhattan. They exchange news and get nostalgic for a few minutes, but an undercurrent runs through the conversation: both men know that Lloyd needs a favor, but he can't bring himself to ask. Finally, he forces it out. "What if I wanted to pitch something?"  

"You never wrote for us, Lloyd." 

  "I know, I'm just wondering if."  

"I do online strategy now-I don't have a say in content anymore."  

"Is there someone you could get me in touch with?"  

After listening to several variations of no, Lloyd puts down the phone.  

He eats another can of chickpeas and tries Menzies again at the paper. "What about me doing the European business roundup today?"  

"Hardy Benjamin handles that now."  

"I know it's a pain for you guys that I don't have this email stuff working. I can fax it, though. It won't make a difference."  

"It does, actually. But look, I'll call if we need something out of Paris. Or give me a ring if you have something newsy."  

Lloyd opens a French current-affairs magazine in hopes of stealing a story idea. He flips the pages impatiently-he doesn't recognize half the names. Who the hell is that guy in the photo? He used to know everything going on in this country. At press conferences, he was front-row, arm raised, rushing up afterward to pitch questions from the sidelines. At embassy cocktail parties, he sidled up to the ambassadors with a grin, notebook emerging from his hip pocket. Nowadays, if he attends press conferences at all, he's back-row, doodling, dozing. Embossed invitations pile up on his coffee table. Scoops, big and little, pass him by. He still has smarts enough to produce the obvious pieces-those he can do drunk, eyelids closed, in his underwear at the word processor.

   He tosses the current-affairs magazine onto a chair. What's the point in trying? He calls his son's mobile. "Am I waking you?" he asks in French, the language they use together.

   Jérôme covers the phone and coughs. 

  "I was hoping to buy you lunch later," Lloyd says. "Shouldn't you be down at the ministry at this hour?"  

But Jérôme has the day off, so they agree to meet at a bistro around Place de Clichy, which is near where the young man lives, though the precise location of Jérôme's home is as much a mystery to Lloyd as are the details of the young man's job at the French foreign ministry. The boy is secretive.  

Lloyd arrives at the bistro early to check the prices on the menu. He opens his wallet to count the cash, then takes a table. 

  When Jérôme walks in, Lloyd stands and smiles. "I'd almost forgotten how fond I am of you."

   Jérôme sits quickly, as if caught out in musical chairs. "You're strange."  

"Yes. It's true."  

Jérôme flaps out the napkin and runs a hand through his floppy locks, leaving tangled tents of hair. His mother, Françoise, a tobacco-fingered stage actress, had the same hair-mussing habit and it made her even more attractive until years later, when she had no work, and it made her disheveled. Jérôme, at twenty-eight, is tattered already, dressed as if by a vintage shop, in a velvet blazer whose sleeves stop halfway up his forearms and an over-tight pin-striped shirt, cigarette rolling papers visible through a rip in the breast pocket.  

Excerpted from The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman Copyright © 2010 by Tom Rachman. Excerpted by permission of The Dial Press, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!
Member Benefits

Join Now!

Check the advantages!
Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year

    •  
    • FREE
    • MEMBER
    • Range of media reviews for each book
    • Excerpts of all featured books
    • Author bios, interviews and pronunciations
    • Browse by genre
    • Book club discussions
    • Book club advice and reading guides
    • BookBrowse reviews and "beyond the book" back-stories
    •  
    • Reviews of notable books ahead of publication
    •  
    • Free books to read and review (US Only)
    •  
    • Browse for the best books by time period, setting & theme
    •  
    • Read-alike suggestions for thousands of books and authors
    •  
    • 'My Reading List" to keep track of your books
    •  
Sign up, win books!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket
    The Search
    by Geoff Dyer
    All hail the independent publisher! In May 2014, Graywolf Press brought two of long-revered British ...
  • Book Jacket
    Mrs. Hemingway
    by Naomi Wood
    Naomi Wood's latest novel, Mrs. Hemingway, is a fictionalized biography covering in turn writer...
  • Book Jacket
    The Stranger on the Train
    by Abbie Taylor
    The opening chapter of Abbie Taylor's debut novel, The Stranger on the Train, took me right back to ...

First Impressions

Members read and review books ahead
of publication. See what they think
in First Impressions!

Books that
expand your
horizons.

Visitors can view a lot of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only

Find out more.

Book Discussions
Book Jacket

Tomlinson Hill
by Chris Tomlinson

Published Jul. 2014

Join the discussion!

  1.  166The City:
    Dean Koontz

All Discussions

Win this book!
Win The Angel of Losses

The Angel of Losses

"Family saga, mystery, and myth intersect in Feldman's debut novel." - Booklist

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

E C H A Silver L

and be entered to win..

Books thatinspire you.Handpicked.

Books you'll stay up all night reading; books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, books that will expand your mind and inspire you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.