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The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman

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In Rachman's debut, The Imperfectionists, his experience as a foreign correspondent and editor aptly shape the jaded lives of his characters. Each chapter is a different person's tale; a few of my favortites:

• The reader who scans every word of every paper, but slowly, so she is more than a decade behind. In her home it is merely April, 1994 and she knows nothing of history beyond that point.
• Obit writer, Arthur Gopal, is sent to Switzerland to interview Gerda Erzberger, an Austrian intellectual. "Claw your way to the bottom, did you?" she asks, but he doesn't mind because this is all he aspires to.
• The Paris correspondent who doesn't realize he's past his prime.
• The female chief financial officer who ends up on a transatlantic flight sitting next to a man she fired.
• A naïve fellow competing for a stringer's job in Cairo who is completely taken for a ride by an older and wiser cohort.

The chapters read like short stories, but intertwine the origins and development of a newspaper in Rome. This dysfunctional group shows a picture of the imperfection that dogs and yet upholds people. Also of interest is the recently published The Room and the Chair by Lorraine Adams; it has a newsroom similar to Rachman's. And, The Broken Teaglass by Emily Arsenault, which is about lexicographers rather than newspeople, but has melancholy characters.

Submitted by Jacki @ MPL Central

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