Friday, October 28, 2011

Literary Friday: The Imperfectionists

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The Dixie Diva Book Club's October selection is The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman.  This is not a novel; it is a collection of vignettes about different staff members of an unnamed English language newspaper based in Rome. Each chapter title is actually a newspaper headline from 2005-06, and each headline relates to the chapter in some way.  Between each chapter is a small entry discussing the paper's illustrious history. These entries tie the vignettes together.

I think some readers have been turned-off by the book because it is not a traditional novel, but there is more cohesion to the story; it is not a collection of short stories because the staffers' lives are interconnected.  It is a character-driven book, but most of the characters are unlikable. I literally could not stand one of the copy editors, and most of the women in the book settle for either losers are horrible situations just so they will not be alone.  I kept singing Pink's "Stupid Girls" in my head while reading this book, but then I reminded myself that it was written by a man.



Some of the situations in the book are shockingly funny, but the humor is dark.  In one chapter entitled "The Sex lives of Islamic Extremists," a young stringer (fresh from graduate school) is literally used to the point of absurdity while on assignment in Cairo.  His name is Winston Cheung, and unfortunately he cannot speak Mandarin because his parents would only speak English to him.  A veteran stringer, Rich Snyder, contacts Winston and requests that Winston pick him up from the airport.  Snyder then crashes at Winston's apartment, steals his laptop, and mooches off of poor Winston in every way imaginable.  To add insult to injury, Snyder pushes Winston to harass a lady in a hijab at a market place and ask her insulting questions, like: "Ask her if she plays around.  Is that common in Islamist circles?"  Of course the crowd gets hostile, and it only escalates from there.  And might I point out how the headline does, in fact, relate to the chapter.

The book is also a metaphor for the future of all print newspapers.  In the age where a daily paper is literally yesterday's news, with so many other, more immediate media at our disposal, how can daily print newspapers possibly survive?  How many of you read a paper from cover to cover everyday, or how many of you even still subscribe to your local daily newspaper? In spite of many unlikable characters, I really liked this book.  It was different, thought-provoking, and very well-written.  Although we had a small group at our book club meeting last Tuesday night, everyone seemed to like the book and was happy that it was one of our selections for 2011.

Until next time...

Happy reading!
Ricki Jill

12 comments:

  1. sounds interesting....might need to read

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  2. I've got you up on my blog roll Ricky! You're encouragement means so much to me!

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  3. Sounds like an interesting read...I am a lover of non fiction and Euro settings. :) Like you'd be surprised by that one.
    xo
    Caroline

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  4. My mother used to read a daily paper cover to cover. First in the morning with coffee and then finish after dinner with her decaf. She always knew what was going on locally and in the world and though she was not educated even through high school, she was and excellent writer and even better speller. I would run all my AP papers buy her for spelling errors. Or maybe this speaks to how bad our schools are now that she knew what she did with only a 9th grade education. Hmmm...

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  5. Really well written review - thank you! I think I'll leave this in my "tried but couldn't get through it" pile and not worry about it. It was just hard for me to get into.

    Have a happy weekend!

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  6. Enjoyed your review, Ricki! But, of course, I always enjoy them!

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  7. Truthfully, this doesn't sound like my kind of book. I just finished The Help about an hour ago. Now that was my kind of book. I haven't seen the film yet, I wanted to read the book first and I loved it!

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  8. Your book sounds great, I'm an avid reader, wish my friend gets it in the USA and brings it for me. Great review by you Ricki and I didn't want to leave before telling you that I just love, love your header with the gorgeous glass pumpkins, fab! Thank you for your lovely visit sweetie and have a wonderful weekend. FABBY

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  9. Now I have that song in my head and can't stop singing it! LOL!

    Happy Saturday!

    LuLu~*xoxo

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  10. Good Morning Ricki Jill Sweetie...
    I think I am like you, I would have to read it all the way through to come to a decision as to how I felt about the book. I will have to check it out and load it on to my kindle if it is available.

    Love that you shared the read. Hope you are having a wonderful weekend and getting yourself ready for the little goblins.

    Many hugs and much love, Sherry

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  11. Thanks for sharing this. I think it will be interesting because it is different and is not what you expect it to be. I have not really posted exclusively about my rock collection although it shows sometimes when I post the table it's on.

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  12. This is the second review I've read. If it jumps into my hands at the library I'll have to give it a go. Thank you so much!

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I read and appreciate all of your comments :D