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:

  • First Published:
    Apr 2010, 288 pages
    Paperback:
    Jan 2011, 304 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Karen Rigby

Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt

Excerpt
The Imperfectionists

"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.  

"Come in," he says. "No need to knock." And his wife enters their apartment for the first time since the night before.   He does not turn from the window to face Eileen, only presses his bald knees harder into the iron guardrail. She smoothes down the back of his gray hair. He flinches, surprised to be touched.  

"Only me," she says.  

He smiles, eyes crinkling, lips parting, inhaling as if to speak. But he has no reply. She lets go.  

He turns finally to find her seated before the drawer where they keep old photographs. A kitchen towel hangs from her shoulder and she wipes off her fingers, damp from peeled potatoes, dishwashing liquid, diced onions, scented from mothballed blankets, soil from the window boxes-Eileen is a woman who touches everything, tastes all, digs in. She slips on her reading glasses.  

"What are you hunting for in there?" he asks.  

"Just a picture of me in Vermont when I was little. To show Didier." She rises, taking a photo album with her, and stands by the front door. "You have plans for dinner, right?" 

  "Mm." He nods at the album. "Bit by bit," he says.  

"What's that mean?" 

  "You're shifting across the hall." 

  "No."  

 "You're allowed to."  

He hasn't resisted her friendship with Didier, the man across the hall. She is not finished with that part of her life, with sex, as Lloyd is. She is eighteen years younger, a gap that incited him once but that, now he is seventy, separates them like a lake. He blows her a kiss and returns to the window.  

The floorboards in the hallway creak. Didier's front door opens and shuts-Eileen doesn't knock over there, just goes in.   Lloyd glances at the phone. It has been weeks since he sold an article and he needs money. He dials the paper in Rome.  

An intern transfers him to the news editor, Craig Menzies, a balding worrier who decides much of what appears in each edition. No matter the time of day, Menzies is at his desk. The man has nothing in his life but news.  

"Good time for a pitch?" Lloyd asks.  

"I'm a tad busy, actually. Could you zing me an e-mail?" 

  "Can't. Problem with my computer." The problem is that he doesn't own one; Lloyd still uses a word processor, vintage 1993. "I can print something and fax it over."

   "Tell me by phone. But please, if possible, could you get your computer working?"  

"Yes: get computer fixed. Duly noted." He scratches his finger across the notepad, as if to tease out a better idea than the one scrawled there. "You folks interested in a feature on the ortolan? It's this French delicacy, a bird-a sort of finch, I think-that's illegal to sell here. They stick it in a cage, poke out its eyes so it can't tell day from night, then feed it round the clock. When it's full up, they drown it in Cognac and cook it. Mitterrand ate one for his last meal."   "Uh-huh," Menzies responds circumspectly. "But sorry, where's the news?" 

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!

One-Month Free Membership

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Commonwealth
    Commonwealth
    by Ann Patchett
    Opening Ann Patchett's novel Commonwealth about two semi-functional mid-late 20th Century ...
  • Book Jacket: A Gentleman in Moscow
    A Gentleman in Moscow
    by Amor Towles
    It is June 21, 1922, and 33-year-old Count Alexander Ilyich Rostov is convicted of being a class ...
  • Book Jacket: I Contain Multitudes
    I Contain Multitudes
    by Ed Yong
    If a stranger were to accost you on the street and tell you that, from birth, you have never been ...

First Impressions

Book Discussions
Book Jacket
Circling the Sun
by Paula McLain

An intoxicatingly vivid portrait of colonial Kenya and its privileged inhabitants.

About the book
Join the discussion!
Win this book!
Win Blood at the Root

Blood at the Root

"A gripping, timely, and important examination of American racism."
- PW Starred Review

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

D C Y C Before T A H

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

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

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.

 
X

Free Weekly Newsletter

Keep up with what's happening in the world of books:
Reviews, previews, interviews and more!



Spam Free: Your email is never shared with anyone; opt out any time.