Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman

I admit it, I picked up The Imperfectionists to see what all the hype was about. I can't resist reading something that makes multiple lists for "books of the year". The book was actually broken down into short stories centering on a variety of characters who were connected to a Rome-based international newspaper. Although each character was the focus of only one chapter, they all continued to pop in and out of the others. Therefore the loose ends left in one story were often answered in another. I enjoy this style of writing. It is similar to Daniyal Mueenuddin's In Other Rooms, Other Wonders.
I have mixed feelings on the book overall. It definitely grabbed my attention and kept it, and I read through it quickly. Some of the stories were more interesting to me than others. Personally I really liked the chapter on Ornella, an elderly woman who started reading every copy of the newspaper in 1976 and refused to move on or hear any current news beyond where she was in her newspaper reading. Due to falling behind in her reading, she was living her life as if it were 13 years earlier. Isolation, loneliness, and unhappiness are constants throughout the stories. Even so, I liked the reading experience until almost the end. I felt that one pointless incident in the last story took away from my enjoyment of the book. I wish he hadn't chosen to add it. This would have been a strong 4 star book for me, but ended up as more of a 3/5.


TheBookGirl said...

I am always frustrated when something happens in a book that I am otherwise enjoying that changes my whole impression of the book, particularly when it is an incident or use of language that I think could have been easily left out.
Thanks for your review -- I generally don't enjoy the interconnected short story structure, so I think this is not for me.

Literary Feline said...

I hate it when a book falters like that near the end in such a way as to impact my overall impression of it.