The Imperfectionists

Thoughts   The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman, ebook (Kindle App on iPad) The Dial Press, an imprint of The Random House Publishing Group 2010, Hardcover – 269 pages


As Fizzythoughts mentioned, one of the stories mentions Ulysses!    One reference was about carrying around the hefty book in a pocket and the other to Leopold and Molly Bloom.    I smiled at these – the only books I took with me on vacation last week were The Imperfectionists and Ulysses!   Actually, not true – I also took the Ulysses/Joyce Guide to Dublin book…

Another reference dropped into The Imperfectionists was the name Diana Vreeland. She was a famous editor of Vogue magazine and I have her autobiography D.V. and am just starting it. I considered the mention my hint to read as my next book.

I loved the setting and the food mentions throughout The Imperfectionists. I wanted to look up recipes – especially in the story about the editor who is gruff at work but actually quite lovable. And ROME! Italy!! Books like this make me sad I didn’t read more like it in high school.   I would never have dreamed – ok, let’s face it, I never would have DARED believe I could just go to a foreign country and work.    Wish I could have…     NoooOOoo, I had to think about what degree would find me the best job:  BOOOORRRRRrrIiiinnnngggggGGG.   oh well.    I have a good life; shall not complain.    Makes one wonder sometimes, how things would have turned out IF…    one different choice = whole ‘nother path –>  where would I be?

I gave The Imperfectionists 4 slices of pie though I hesitated it was only a 3 slicer.   Perhaps it was that the characters where a bit hard to like.    They make some dumb choices; do things I wouldn’t call admirable.    Talk about showing the warts!

The style of the book is interesting, too.    It’s like a woven tapestry of various stories and characters, weaving here and there to make up a whole.    Time shifts back and forth;  minor characters show up and then disappear to re-emerge later.    The flow was nice.   Questions are asked and never answered but always interesting.

I think we will have many interesting topics discussed at book club next week!    Character slamming is likely.

My favorite story (and probably character) is the Arthur story – he is an obituary writer lacking ambition who through a few sudden turns of events and reflection after, develops some ambition after all.   POIGNANT.

As to the writing, I think it was in that category of so good that you scarcely realize you are reading – you are not distracted by it nor aware of it while in the middle of the story.   Once complete, you think, ‘very fine’.

Have you ever thought you can read the author when you read a book?   How some novels, fiction novels, somehow expose the author while you are reading?    I only ask to show the contrast of our last book club book and this one.    In Shadow Tag, I really got the impression that Louise Erdrich was sharing herself.   (It has been mentioned that elements of Shadow Tag could be autobiographical…)   But in the Imperfectionist, I did NOT get any sense of the author.    This really strikes me as significant somehow and thus I bring it up.     Which is also why I very much enjoyed the author interview at the end of the book.

If you want to read a true review of this collection of connected stories pertaining to an English-language newspaper printed in Rome, check out Softdrink’s link in the first paragraph or click on any or all of the links here, here, here, here for terrific analysis, insights and plot descriptions.   Or click HERE for the grand google search results.

Word has it that Brad Pitt’s film company has picked up the rights.    This would explain why Brad Pitt’s photograph showed up in the image collection when I searched for the cover.

Who would Brad Pitt play if he was a character?    I would put him in for the original publisher/founder Mr. Ott.


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32 thoughts on “The Imperfectionists

  1. Have I told you lately how much I adore your reviews? Probably, so just consider this a reminder. 🙂 Seriously, I swear when I read your reviews, it’s like I’m getting to look at the way my own brain works…and that’s a pretty cool feeling!

    1. Carrie (great name, btw), I have this feeling that my appreciation of this book will increase as time goes on. I look forward to hearing your thoights on it.

  2. Ruthiella

    Hi Care,

    I understand your hesitation between three and four slices of pie for “The Imperfectionists”. I liked it a lot but only gave it three stars on goodreads. Maybe because it is basically short stories and there is no real closure, or maybe it was because of the “warts and all” portrayal of the characters. I am not clever enough to put my finger on it. But I did like it! I lived in Europe for a few years (but never in Italy), so I could relate a bit to the ex-pat life portrayed; in particular Ruby, who relies on the fact that her dull, lonely life in Rome makes here seem fabulous and exotic to the people back home.

    1. Ruthiella, great insight about Ruby. What an odd duck she was.
      I like novels like this – the random but loosely connected story collections. So ephemeral yet substantial, too.

  3. Don’t you love when the books you are reading somehow have resonance with one another? By the way, I saw your comment about the kidney breakfast on another blog – I had to laugh. Although I rarely remember details of books I read in college, that one stuck in my head forever, it seems! :–)

    1. Did you ever see Valentines Day, the movie? how it had many characters that seemed to cross paths? Kinda like that but I never thought the Imperfectionists was confusing. they just shared a setting and a connection. however, if you are needing to NOT put more books on your tbr, I so get it.

    1. Huh. What did I say to give you an impression of lit’rary? I think I define literary as more highbrow; this aint that. :). But I do think I like it more and more as I continue to reflect on the stories.

  4. I so want to read this one! I’ve been seeing that since last year, lol! I better actually go request it finally. That font on the book’s cover is what is really making me want to read it! What a weird reason!

  5. Great review, Care. I’m pretty sure this book isn’t for me, but it was fun reading about it, anyway. As to thinking an author seems to come through in his/her books . . . absolutely. There’s a little bit of Simon in every story he writes. I often find out which parts fit his life or persona when I read interviews with him after the fact. I think most authors drop pieces of themselves into their stories although sometimes they try not to!!

    1. No? Ah, well, we can’t want every book we see reviewed or … Sigh.
      Sorry, I didn’t get the Whipple book to you in time for the Persephone reading weekend coming up.

      As to that author sharing issue, I think that is what holds me up on ever never wanting to be a writer. My story ideas are all about me and there is no way I would put it out into the world. That, and I can never think of how to end my stories.

      1. Yes, there are way the heck too many books to read all of them. Darn. No worries about the Whipple. I didn’t even know there’s a Persephone reading weekend coming up. BTW, I just sent your book, today. No note inside. I used to hate it when I’d open a parcel from my mother and there was no note. I’ve finally become my mother. Eeks.

        I think it’s only natural for a little bit of your experience to come through in a novel but you do improve at creating more and using less of yourself, over time. For a while, all of my “heroines” were stay-at-home mothers and then I finally broke free of the mold and guess what my next heroine did? She worked in a bookstore. Yep, I worked in a bookstore. The one after that was an artist who made funky things out of glass, though. I’ve never done any glass sculpting, thank goodness. LOL

  6. This is a great novel/linked-stories. The Imperfectionists, in capturing the vicissitude of the diminishing industry, also affords a myopic, but authentic view of human foibles. The paper’s staff reminds us that imperfection is what makes us human beings. Although they have fears, regrets, secrets, unhappiness, resentment, disappointment, and hurts, life still goes on.

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