Tag: newspaper industry

The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman

Posted May 24, 2013 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Contemporary / 0 Comments

The Imperfectionists by Tom RachmanTitle: The Imperfectionists (Goodreads)
, 2010
Pages: 277
Buy: AmazonBook Depository (or visit your local Indie bookstore)

With the war on terror in Afghanistan and Iraq, climate change, the economy and constant tragedies and crime, a newspaper has plenty of material to fill its columns. But for the staff of this international paper based in Rome, the real stories are not the ones on the front page but the ones that happen in their own life. The Imperfectionists is a quirky novel about the people that write and read this newspaper.

My first thought of this novel was, this is going to be the newspaper equivalent of A Visit from the Goon Squad and in some parts it is, but I actually enjoyed this book. Don’t get me wrong, A Visit from the Goon Squad has some positives to it and a lot of people enjoyed it, but for me I just think it was over hyped and you get to know a character and then the novel moves onto something different. This is a problem with The Imperfectionist as well but I got this sense that each little story came to a relatively decent close; this is tiny little stories to give you a small insight into each life. These stories don’t really make up an overall plot; that happens between each chapter when you learn a little more about the overall rise of this paper.

This novel mainly focuses on the newspaper industry, founded in the late fifties, in a time where the paper is still the primary source of news for most people. This novel tracks the changing time and the effect it has on the people that work for this paper. Television and the twenty four hour news channels had a huge effect on the newspaper industry but this paper managed to stay in business and now with the information age and the internet they are really struggling to remain relevant. This newspaper refused to create a website and insisted on sticking to the old ways and this turns out to be their downfall.

Each member of the staff that show up in the chapters of the book have their own issues to deal with as well; love, relationships, parenthood and normal everyday life. The thing I enjoyed about this book was each character was unique and handled life differently but then all of them had their own issues to deal with that were more important than the problems facing the newspaper they worked for. Sure they worried about their jobs but life has its own challenges and these are what are explored with the newspaper industry decays.

This works like a collection of short stories, each have their own plot but then in between  each one there it the main plot which follows the newspaper from conception to where it is today. I really liked the way this was done; it felt like each story wasn’t irrelevant to the overall plot. Their names pop up and you have a sense of understanding that person enough to know just how they may feel. Each little story is different, but they are told in the same third person style so they seem to tie together really well.

There are some problems with this novel as well, sometimes you want more from a character you like and sometimes I found myself getting bored. As an overall novel I did end up enjoying it; I found myself racing through this book and that is rare for me when it comes to short stories. I don’t know much about author Tom Rachman; I know his has written another short story but not another novel. I would be interested to see how he goes with a follow up novel and see how he approaches it. The Imperfectionist was enjoyable but I don’t think I would recommend it to anyone, unless they want something similar to of A Visit from the Goon Squad.