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.
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.
The act of reading ... begins on a flat surface, counter or page, and then gets stirred and chopped and blended until what we make, in the end, is a dish, or story, all our own.
— Adam Gopnik
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