Saturday, March 31, 2012
The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman
A novel which actually reads like a series of interrelated short stories. It tells the tale of life in the newsroom of an English language international newspaper based in Rome, particularly in its dying days in 2007. Each chapter focuses on a different employee and ends with a separate short section about the paper's founding and development. The book's strength is in its description of numerous eccentric characters, their personal lives and their relationships with each other. I particularly liked the chapter in which the paper's CFO is forced to sit next to an employee she's just been responsible for firing on a flight from Rome to Atlanta - and the revenge he ultimately exacts. Many of the characters were unsympathetic - not kind to their peers, failing in their ambitions (or succeeding in them at the expense of others), or cheating on their spouses. But I did have a soft spot for the obituary writer whose family is impacted by an unexplained accident and the naive student who thinks he's up for a stringer role in Cairo but is really just being used by those around him.