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3.6 out of 5 stars17
3.6 out of 5 stars
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon April 4, 2016
This excellent book covers the life of an English language newspaper based in Italy from its inception in the 1950's to the present. Between chapters, there are several pages about the paper itself and its inevitable rush to decline in this age of 'instant news'.

Each chapter takes us into the personal life of one person associated with the paper. They weave together beautifully, but would stand up rather well as separate short stories. Some have described this book as 'humour' - perhaps, but it would definitely be of the dark or bittersweet variety. While a large theme of the book seems to deal with disappointment, it is not depressing.

Some of my favourite bits include entries in the paper's style guide such as this one on the use of the word "literally":

literally: this word should be deleted. All too often, actions described as "literally" did not happen at all. As in, "He literally jumped out of his skin." No, he did not. [...] Inserting "literally" willy-nilly reinforces the notion that breathless nitwits lurk within this newsroom. Eliminate on sight - the usage, not the nitwits. The nitwits are to be captured and placed in the cages I have set up in the subbasement. See also: Excessive Dashes; Exclamation points; and Nitwits.

This is a book that would stand up to re-reading and I intend to do just that.
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on November 20, 2015
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on July 6, 2015
Not an easy read, and it doesn't help that I don't like the characters. But I do push on from time to time and I may yet finish it. One reviewer type said he read it twice! kudos to him. I have read his second book.
So get back to me later, or tell me something to help me in my reading of this book. Cheers.
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on January 14, 2015
The book was written well but I just didn't really care about any of the characters. It just seemed like a collection of not-nice people doing not-nice things with no real overall point. I just kept waiting for something to happen and only kept reading because the writing was so precise and engaging, even if the characters and the stories weren't.
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on January 3, 2014
I read this book twice and liked it better the second time. The characters were interesting and the inter personal relationships very clever. It was a great story. I was fascinated how some characters very directly affected the lives of others they didn't know very well.
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on October 29, 2013
I read it because it was on my book club list but I didn't think there was a point to it. It was not a difficult read.
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on October 29, 2011
Some characters are despicable. Most of all a bunch of losers. The title is appropriate. Easy to read, short chapters. But a lack of consistency and depth in the description of these characters. I don't understand why this book had such a success!
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon August 7, 2011
Well, it spent almost a year on my "to read" list, and finally its turn came up. As serendipity would have it, this delightful first novel by Tom Rachmann turned out to be the perfect summer read: a sequence of interwoven short stories that can be read indulging to stop as often as the season's pace dictates. In them, each character gets his or hers moment in the spotlight as their stories intertwine, bringing us the steady and unstoppable demise of an international newspaper based in Rome. Sound writing, solid characters and great stories combine, as the pieces fall into place to configure a very good novel. This one is a winner.
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on July 6, 2011
I bought this book because it received great reviews and because, as a former journalist, I thought I would find it especially interesting. I was disappointed. I abandoned "The Imperfectionists" about half-way through. This is another one of those novels, like "Freedom" by Jonathan Franzen, that leaves me puzzled about the state of contemporary literary fiction. "Freedom", too, received rave reviews and was, to me, disappointing in the same way that "The Imperfectionists" is disappointing. The writing was facile, the characters uninteresting and the plot non-existent. The whole thing had an air of trying very hard to sound clever.
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Ironically, "The Imperfectionists" is the perfect title for Tom Rachman's brilliant, astute and original debut novel. Set in Rome, the book describes an English-language newspaper's demise; each chapter (all of which read like short stories) focuses on one individual who is somehow affiliated with the paper. There's the desperate Paris-based freelancer willing to jeopardize his son's career for a byline, the lazy obituary writer whose life is transformed by tragedy, the imperious editor-in-chief whose open marriage is on the fritz and the most hilarious rookie Cairo correspondent who is ruthlessly manipulated by a competitor. Though "imperfect" to a fault, Rachman's characters come across as authentic and endearing. Yes, they gripe and annoy each other but their stories are so real, so poignant and so strongly imagined that together they form one winner of a novel.
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