Ok, well, maybe not perfect. But darn good.
I’ve been re-reading books from my collection attempting to pare it down to four full bookcases, and this was one I didn’t remember enough of. So far, every book I’ve re-read for this purpose has gone in the resale pile, but this one I burned through; it’s just so damn well written.
The Imperfectionists is the tale of a global newspaper and its decline as told through snapshots in the lives of its contributors. That sounds bone dry, but Rachman manages to make his characters distinct enough that their personalities come through and keep the narrative moving. I feel like I’ve seen a kind of this story so often it is almost a trope – The Red Violin comes to mind as an example – where we follow an inanimate object through its history and possessors, but the inanimate object here is the newspaper, and the group of people who make it, which is more relatable. We’ve all been part of a team, but how many of us have heirlooms that survive through generations? It’s basically Then We Came to the End, but dramatic rather than comedic.
Rachman smartly delineates each chapter with a newspaper headline from the paper itself, and you get how each person could become enchanted and disillusioned by their work; each contributor’s story parallels the idealistic hope for glory of the paper’s early days and the slide into prosaic reality in some fashion or another, but is not nearly as depressing as that description makes it sound. I really liked this one; not only did it go back on my shelf, but I plan on getting more Rachman soon.