Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Recent read: The Imperfectionists

The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman

How did I end up in this alternate universe where I choose books for myself that don't follow any kind of traditional, single narrative?  Huh?  That's what I'm asking myself after reading The Imperfectionists, on the heels of A Visit From the Goon Squad.  Now don't get me wrong, both books were good.  I enjoyed them.  But I'm ready to head back to Single Strand Narrative Town for a while.  I'm in the mood for something a little more... traditional.  Pride and Prejudice anyone?  (I'm making myself read it again to--hopefully--make myself like it.  But that's a different post altogether.  And even that doesn't really fit the single narrative constraint.  I digress.)

Tom Rachman's book is a lot like Goon Squad in that each chapter is pretty much a stand-alone story.  Except in The Imperfectionists, there's more of a link than there was with Goon Squad.  Characters in this book all work together, or at least they all work at some point in their lives for the same newspaper in Rome.  As a study in character, it was wonderful.  Parts of it were really tragic (not in a really tragic way, but in an oh, hmm, that's kind of pathetic-sad way), but parts were incredibly funny.  Rachman manages to capture a plethora of annoying habits these people have, and annoying people make for good reading.

I wouldn't say this is a favorite of anything I've read in recent history, but it was decent.  Rachman is talented and I was genuinely interested in this world, even if it wasn't much of a page-turner.  But I have to admit that I'm going to forever associate this book with dentistry since I spent much of the fall of 2011 listening to it while people drilled and/or poked at my teeth.  That could have something to do with my feelings of indifference.

My recommendation:  Pick it up if you're looking for an interesting little peek into the oddities of different people's lives.

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