'How pleasant it is to spend an evening in this way! I declare that after all there is no enjoyment like reading! How much sooner one tires of any thing than of a book! — When I have a house of my own, I shall be miserable if I have not an excellent library.' No one made any reply. She then yawned again, threw aside her book, and cast her eyes round the room in quest of some amusement. — from Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen (1775-1817)
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June 20, 2010

The Imperfectionists

With the exception of Major Pettigrew's Last Stand, which I loved, I don't often find myself reading the books that everyone else is reading. And lately, contemporary fiction in general hasn't been all that appealing to me. But I'm very glad that someone or something suggested The Imperfectionists, and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.

I mean that literally. (There's a page in the book where the crusty Corrections Editor -- I liked him-- writes an entry for his Bible (style guide) blasting the use of literally, but I think I'm OK here. I sat in my favorite corner of the couch, on and off over the weekend, and just took pleasure in reading the interconnecting stories. It's good sometimes to have a book you can dip into and out of.

The book is just that, a set of interconnected short stories, each one focused on one of the employees, and one reader, of a small, fading international newspaper in Rome. Some of the characters are eccentric, others aren't; some of the stories (and situations) are moving, and others are a little more jolting. The harshness seemed to pile up a little at the end, somehow (with some of the stories ending a little too much alike).  Still, I liked the way the author, Tom Rachman, created interesting mannerisms, histories and relationships for each character, without necessarily giving us all of the details. (Arthur does not want to talk about what happens to him, and so we don't exactly know.) I found myself reading quickly through the interleaved sections about the newspaper's history; they weren't as colorful, or compelling. 

What's next?  Before I realized that I should read The Imperfectionists now, because there would be a long wait at the library to get it back again, I started reading Deborah Davis's book Gilded:  How Newport Became America's Richest Resort, a social history of Newport from its earliest days as a resort to the present. It's more a series of anecdotes than an in-depth study, but it's an interesting book, so far, and very readable. I picked it up on the library's new books shelf because I'm hoping to have a chance to go down to Newport again this summer, and I'd like to know more about the Newport 'cottages' and the people who built them.

2 comments:

Frances said...

Oh, I have been lusting after this one and every post about it is drawing me closer and closer. Perhaps as a treat for myself, I will pick it up on Tuesday as that is the last day of school before my summer break. Glad you enjoyed it!

El said...

Thanks for the info on these books. I'll definitely have to check out the book about Newport!

Thank you for visiting!

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