The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman

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The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman

Category: General Fiction
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Louise Laurie
Reviewed by Louise Laurie
Summary: An old-fashioned newspaper with an old-fashioned feel is fighting for its survival. Various staff members tell their own story - and their place - within this much-loved newspaper.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 336 Date: July 2011
Publisher: Quercus
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1849160315

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This book has reached the dizzy heights of an International Bestseller with plaudits all over its covers. And it's a debut novel, albeit by an author who has worked in journalism. So, am I going to be another notch on the book-reading bedpost, so to speak?

I get the impression from the blurb on the covers that there's a fair amount of humour between its covers. I'm delighted about this as I love a bit of humour but it takes a lot to take me laugh - I'm what is called one of those awkward sods ('scuse language). Rachman has his work cut out.

Each of the eleven newspapers characters is given their own chapter and their own chapter heading eg: World's Oldest Liar Dies At 126 - Obituary Writer and Global Warming Good For Ice Creams - Corrections Editor. I think these two samples alone give you a definite flavour of the style, tone and content. The first story centres around the paper's Paris correspondent. Sounds glamorous and sophisticated, doesn't it? But this person, Burko brings the tone right down - without even trying, with lines such as I know it's a pain for you guys that I don't have this email stuff working. I couldn't help but love the shuffling, shambolic Lloyd Burko. I wanted him to get into the 21st century and be a success. Newspaper jargon etc creeps in here and there to add to the story, to add that extra layer of credibility (not that it needs it). So there's sometimes a pent-up atmosphere of deadlines looming, hot headlines etc. And it's all so funny that I'm laughing to myself even writing these lines as I picture the scene Rachman has created.

Then there's Arthur, the Obituary Writer who turns out to be a hoot. I simply have to quote him when he tells us No one has died. Or, rather, 107 people have in the previous minute, 154,000 in the past day, and 1,078,000 in the past week. But no one who matters. Hilarious, or what. I'm loving Rachman's style and I'm also appreciating the humour. It's all reading like a breath of fresh air and I'm only on chapter two.

There's plenty of in-house jokes flying all over the place and joshing around amongst colleagues who get on. There's also enough swearing to turn the air blue amongst colleagues who don't get on. Don't you read email? Wake up, faggot. and lines of that ilk.

I have several favourites but I think my out-and-out favourite (and it's not easy to choose) has to be (and I'm laughing again, I can't help it) Herman, the Corrections Editor. As his lofty title suggests, he is a stickler for proper English - and oh boy, what a stickler. His infamous book of reference, which he calls the Bible, is referred to and thumbed on a regular basis. I bet the staff want to throw the blasted book out of the nearest window but that's me making up my own agenda. If Herman spots a mistake (and apparently he can at around twenty paces) he goes ballistic. Rachman's descriptions of his melt-downs over a wrong comma or a mis-spelling are wonderful. I defy anyone not to find them funny.

This particular chapter (Herman's chapter) opens with him on the war path with the staff ... opening that morning's paper as if it contained a murder weapon. What it does contain is worse: a mistake. I loved that line. And the snazzy one-liners could easily be stolen by a stand-up comedian for the night and bring the house down. Rachman effortlessly brings a bunch of different people to life. I want to visit this fictional newspaper. I want to meet each and every one of them.

All of the characters are interwoven to create a lovely work of fiction. Fresh, breezy but at times with a sharp and biting wit, this book is to be enjoyed and savoured. Rachman can count me as yet another fan. Can't wait for his next book. Highly recommended.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag.

If this book appeals then you might like to try The Afterparty by Leo Benedictus.

Buy The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman at Amazon.com.


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