2 Following


Writing about reading and such.

Currently reading

Sweetness #9: A Novel
Stephan Eirik Clark
The Imperfectionists - Tom Rachman

Striving for mediocrity and settling for less is how the characters in The Imperfectionists operate. A novel by Tom Rachman, it’s the story of an English language newspaper in Rome and the people who struggle to make it work.

We all know the fate of the newspaper industry today, but when Cyrus Ott started Corso Vittoria in the 1950s it had lots of potential. Mostly it had the potential to employ the woman he loved, (although not his wife), and to escape to Italy whenever he wanted to see her. Although starting this paper was a huge undertaking, the motive for it remained a secret, and for all its existence, it remained a sore spot of the Ott Empire. By the time a third generation Ott publisher was required, the family sent the lamest and least educated of Cyrus’ grandchildren to run the business. Even if Oliver had had some intelligence, he still had absolutely no interest in running the newspaper and ignored all phone calls from its employees. The operation had already been deemed a loss

Each chapter of this book focuses on the life of a different employee. To name a few, Kathleen Solson is the paper’s no-nonsense editor-in-chief whose solution to her husband’s marital affair is to have one of her own. Herman Cohen, the corrections editor, condemns even the slightest grammar offense at work, but will let mistakes slide at home. And Winston Cheung is so desperate for any journalism job that he accepts an audition to be the Cairo reporter and goes to the foreign city eager to please, only to be taken advantage of and miserable. All of the employees demand perfection at the office. All of them settle for less in every other aspect of their lives.

This was an interesting book from a character development perspective, and by development, I mean lack thereof. Mostly, they all just fear change. I think their patheticness is what makes them so relatable, because let’s face it… The reality is that we don’t always make the most rational decisions. I’d recommend this book for a healthy dose of realism, but not if you suffer from any sort of depressive disorder.