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30 January 2014

'The Imperfectionists' by Tom Rachman

Once again, I have read a book because I could no longer avoid it.  It popped up everywhere, in three different countries and three different languages.  Eventually, and I am sure Beloved Proof Reader agrees with this, I let it into my flat like a puppy that followed me home; never mind that we have no place to put him… Still, no regrets.  'The Imperfectionists' is as wonderful as the reviews and blurbs assert it is.

As I said, I picked it up because I could not help it.  I had no real expectations.  In brief, this book is about the birth, life and demise of a newspaper.  No… wait… This book is about the blood that pumps through a newspaper.  Wait, this book is about people who happen to work at a newspaper…errrr, no.  This book is about all of the above and more.  As a reader I learn about the process of writing for and then publishing a serious newspaper only to realize that my knowledge is as obsolete as the newspaper at the end of the book.  The book is divided into the different tasks at a newspaper… editor, journalist, owner and others are individually explored both at work and in private.  Some stories are heartbreaking.  I am left with the desire to read an entire book devoted to some of these people.  The newspaper itself brings them all together like a collection of short stories with Tom Rachman as the editor.

It is fitting that a book titled 'The Imperfectionists' should be situated in Rome, a city famous for its art and its imperfections.  It has been argued that the grandeur of Rome is made possible by its glaring faults.  Well, I would argue that the greatness of this international newspaper was made possible by the imperfect humans that worked for it.  I feel sadness and disconnection as I finish it.  I am aware that many excellent newspapers have quietly died.  Our pool of professional journalists has narrowed.  We now receive our news from more varied sources, true, but their reliability and their biases are not as transparent… maybe I am wrong.  But 'The Imperfectionists' left me feeling a deep nostalgia, like looking at Rome and thinking of some perceived Golden Age…

Tom Rachman  
ISBN: 9780385343671 

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