Set against the gorgeous backdrop of Rome, Tom Rachmans wry, vibrant debut follows the topsy-turvy private lives of the reporters, editors, and executives of an international English language newspaper as they struggle to keep itand themselvesafloat.
Fifty years and many changes have ensued since the paper was founded by an enigmatic millionaire, and now, amid the stained carpeting and dingy office furniture, the staffs personal dramas seem far more important than the daily headlines. Kathleen, the imperious editor in chief, is smarting from a betrayal in her open marriage; Arthur, the lazy obituary writer, is transformed by a personal tragedy; Abby, the embattled financial officer, discovers that her job cuts and her love life are intertwined in a most unexpected way. Out in the field, a veteran Paris freelancer goes to desperate lengths for his next byline, while the new Cairo stringer is mercilessly manipulated by an outrageous war correspondent with an outsize ego. And in the shadows is the isolated young publisher who pays more attention to his prized basset hound, Schopenhauer, than to the fate of his familys quirky newspaper.
As the era of print news gives way to the Internet age and this imperfect crew stumbles toward an uncertain future, the papers rich history is revealed, including the surprising truth about its founders intentions.
Spirited, moving, and highly original, The Imperfectionists will establish Tom Rachman as one of our most perceptive, assured literary talents.
"Bush Slumps to New Low in Polls"
Paris Correspondent-Lloyd Burko
Lloyd shoves off the bedcovers and hurries to the front door in white underwear and black socks. He steadies himself on the knob and shuts his eyes. Chill air rushes under the door; he curls his toes. But the hallway is silent. Only high-heeled clicks from the floor above. A shutter squeaking on the other side of the courtyard. His own breath, whistling in his nostrils, whistling out.
Faintly, a woman's voice drifts in. He clenches his eyelids tighter, as if to drive up the volume, but makes out only murmurs, a breakfast exchange between the woman and the man in the apartment across the hall. Until, abruptly, their door opens: her voice grows louder, the hallway floorboards creak-she is approaching. Lloyd hustles back, unlatches the window above the courtyard, and takes up a position there, gazing out over his corner of Paris. She taps on his front door. ...
[The Imperfectionists] details a world where getting the "scoop" often triumphs over empathy for a subject's privacy, and where career ambitions determine the actions of many of the titular "imperfectionists" who struggle with pressures of work and home... Though it is tough to read about selfishness, this debut is noteworthy as a portrayal of everyday lives during decisive moments in a changing landscape. It successfully weaves between workplace drama and domestic tales to combine moments of free-spirited liveliness with a realistic sobriety about relationships that seldom survive the differences between those involved.
(Reviewed by Karen Rigby).
Full Review (959 words).
BookBrowse's Karen Rigby interviews Tom Rachman
BB: How has studying cinema informed your writing?
TR: At college, I majored in film studies, so movies certainly affected how I tell stories. One strength of cinema is its speed: a movie must grip you and tell a story fast; it ought to pull you completely into the onscreen world. Movies have limits, though, struggling to move beyond what can be seen and what can be heard. The written story allows you to venture more deeply inside characters - a novel explores those aspects of people that, in day-to-day life, we cannot easily see or hear. This is what I hoped to do in The Imperfectionists, to bare the thoughts of a range of people who weren't necessarily shrieking but who were ...
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