Huw Rhys's Reviews > The Imperfectionists

The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman
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Sep 02, 11

Read from August 30 to September 02, 2011

This isn't quite a novel, nor is it quite a collection of themed short stories - it sits somewhat delightfully between the two stools.

Ostensibly telling the story of the foundation and fall of a mythical European newspaper over a period spanning a half century, the story is told via a series of vignettes featuring various characters in the newspapers' story.

If you're expecting a series of tales featuring cynical, ethically challenged newspaper hacks, then you won't be disappointed - there is plenty of this side of journalism to be read. But there is a lot, lot more to this book as well.

Just as the stories of the various characters are unveiled, so too is the history of the newspaper itself. Indeed, the tale of the newspaper's life acts as a metaphor for life's progressive disappointments, interspered with the odd moment of glory.

Human weaknesses and fallibilities are explored via our characters' tales, and virtually every one of the dozen or so stories gives us an insight into different elements of the human condition. Growing old and reflecting on life's apparent failures, disappointments and non-achievements is a constant theme - again, mirroring the story of the newspaper itself, which spans three generations of owners.

Whilst very few of the characters are particularly likeable, and whilst many of the bigger themes explored in the book are hardly uplifting, there is nevertheless an honesty in this book which is extremely endearing. The individual tales in themselves are all strong stories in their own right, every one finely crafted and presented.

A thoroughly worthwhile read.
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Reading Progress

08/30/2011 page 84
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