Iowa City Public Library's Reviews > The Imperfectionists

The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman
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's review
Sep 07, 2010

bookshelves: fiction, john, staff-picks-blog
Read in September, 2010

“”Pricks,” she mutters. She should just quit. Hand in her resignation. Never set foot in this place again. Leave thise idiots in the dirt. Yes, there it is: the chair–over there, behind the watercooler. She hurries over and grabs it. ‘Get their own damn chair.’ She rolls it to its rightful place at the copydesk, unlocks her drawer, and lays out her tools: a cushion for her lower back, an ergonomic keyboard and mouse, RSI wrist braces, antibacterial wipes. She decontaminates the keyboard and the mouse. ‘Impossible to feel clean in this place.’”

Tom Rachman does several things very well in his debut, but characterization is clearly his strength. He collects a dozen story/chapters about people connected to an international newspaper headquartered in Rome. One story is broken up to provide segues between the others. Better yet, some characters appear frequently, first as the subject of the story, then seen from other angles by other characters.

Rachman has a sharp eye for human frailty, a bittersweet sense of humor, and a talent for twists at story’s end that recalls O. Henry. Christopher Buckley raved about this in the New York Times Book Review. An ambitious, accomplished first novel, and great fun. --John

From ICPL Staff Picks Blog

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