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The Imperfectionists

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The Imperfectionists

A Novel
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BONUS: This edition contains a The Imperfectionists discussion guide and an excerpt from Tom Rachman's The Rise & Fall of Great Powers.Set against the gorgeous backdrop of Rome, Tom Rachman's wry,...
BONUS: This edition contains a The Imperfectionists discussion guide and an excerpt from Tom Rachman's The Rise & Fall of Great Powers.Set against the gorgeous backdrop of Rome, Tom Rachman's wry,...
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Description-
  • BONUS: This edition contains a The Imperfectionists discussion guide and an excerpt from Tom Rachman's The Rise & Fall of Great Powers.

    Set against the gorgeous backdrop of Rome, Tom Rachman's wry, vibrant debut follows the topsy-turvy private lives of the reporters, editors, and executives of an international English language newspaper as they struggle to keep it--and themselves--afloat.

    Fifty years and many changes have ensued since the paper was founded by an enigmatic millionaire, and now, amid the stained carpeting and dingy office furniture, the staff's personal dramas seem far more important than the daily headlines. Kathleen, the imperious editor in chief, is smarting from a betrayal in her open marriage; Arthur, the lazy obituary writer, is transformed by a personal tragedy; Abby, the embattled financial officer, discovers that her job cuts and her love life are intertwined in a most unexpected way. Out in the field, a veteran Paris freelancer goes to desperate lengths for his next byline, while the new Cairo stringer is mercilessly manipulated by an outrageous war correspondent with an outsize ego. And in the shadows is the isolated young publisher who pays more attention to his prized basset hound, Schopenhauer, than to the fate of his family's quirky newspaper.

    As the era of print news gives way to the Internet age and this imperfect crew stumbles toward an uncertain future, the paper's rich history is revealed, including the surprising truth about its founder's intentions.

    Spirited, moving, and highly original, The Imperfectionists will establish Tom Rachman as one of our most perceptive, assured literary talents.

 
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Excerpts-
  • From the book

    "Bush Slumps to New Low in Polls" Paris Correspondent-Lloyd Burko

    Lloyd shoves off the bedcovers and hurries to the front door in white underwear and black socks. He steadies himself on the knob and shuts his eyes. Chill air rushes under the door; he curls his toes. But the hallway is silent. Only high-heeled clicks from the floor above. A shutter squeaking on the other side of the courtyard. His own breath, whistling in his nostrils, whistling out.

    Faintly, a woman's voice drifts in. He clenches his eyelids tighter, as if to drive up the volume, but makes out only murmurs, a breakfast exchange between the woman and the man in the apartment across the hall. Until, abruptly, their door opens: her voice grows louder, the hallway floorboards creak-she is approaching. Lloyd hustles back, unlatches the window above the courtyard, and takes up a position there, gazing out over his corner of Paris. She taps on his front door.

    "Come in," he says. "No need to knock." And his wife enters their apartment for the first time since the night before. He does not turn from the window to face Eileen, only presses his bald knees harder into the iron guardrail. She smoothes down the back of his gray hair. He flinches, surprised to be touched.

    "Only me," she says.

    He smiles, eyes crinkling, lips parting, inhaling as if to speak. But he has no reply. She lets go.

    He turns finally to find her seated before the drawer where they keep old photographs. A kitchen towel hangs from her shoulder and she wipes off her fingers, damp from peeled potatoes, dishwashing liquid, diced onions, scented from mothballed blankets, soil from the window boxes-Eileen is a woman who touches everything, tastes all, digs in. She slips on her reading glasses.

    "What are you hunting for in there?" he asks.

    "Just a picture of me in Vermont when I was little. To show Didier." She rises, taking a photo album with her, and stands by the front door. "You have plans for dinner, right?"

    "Mm." He nods at the album. "Bit by bit," he says.

    "What's that mean?"

    "You're shifting across the hall."

    "No."

    "You're allowed to."

    He hasn't resisted her friendship with Didier, the man across the hall. She is not finished with that part of her life, with sex, as Lloyd is. She is eighteen years younger, a gap that incited him once but that, now he is seventy, separates them like a lake. He blows her a kiss and returns to the window.

    The floorboards in the hallway creak. Didier's front door opens and shuts-Eileen doesn't knock over there, just goes in. Lloyd glances at the phone. It has been weeks since he sold an article and he needs money. He dials the paper in Rome.

    An intern transfers him to the news editor, Craig Menzies, a balding worrier who decides much of what appears in each edition. No matter the time of day, Menzies is at his desk. The man has nothing in his life but news.

    "Good time for a pitch?" Lloyd asks.

    "I'm a tad busy, actually. Could you zing me an e-mail?"

    "Can't. Problem with my computer." The problem is that he doesn't own one; Lloyd still uses a word processor, vintage 1993. "I can print something and fax it over."

    "Tell me by phone. But please, if possible, could you get your computer working?"

    "Yes: get computer fixed. Duly noted." He scratches his finger across the notepad, as if to tease out a better idea than the one scrawled there. "You folks interested in a feature on the ortolan? It's this French delicacy, a bird-a sort of finch, I think-that's illegal to sell here. They stick it in a cage, poke out its eyes so...

About the Author-
  • Tom Rachman was born in London and raised in Vancouver. A graduate of the University of Toronto and the Columbia School of Journalism, he has been a foreign correspondent for the Associated Press, stationed in Rome. From 2006 to 2008, he worked as an editor at the International Herald Tribune in Paris. He lives in Rome.

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    Random House Publishing Group
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