The Imperfectionists--Tom Rachman

The Imperfectionists is billed as a novel, but it is only a novel in the sense that Winesburg, Ohio can be read as a novel, which is not to put it into bad company, but which  should alter one's expectations of it slightly.  The work consists of eleven short stories that are interrelated and mortared together by a thin stream of a story-line that traces the development of the newspaper for which all of the characters work.

The characters and stories are engaging and occasionally touching ranging from the first--the story of an erstwhile freelancer trying to land a story to pay the rent, to the last the story of the publisher who is more interested in his dog than in the success of the publication.

Characters repeat throughout the stories, some incidents overlap.  There is at least one story, "Markets Crash Over Fear of China Slowdown," in which I experienced some little bit of schadenfreude because of the central theme.  One could only wish that such things transpired in reality.

The writing is strong--especially for a first book--and the characters nicely drawn.  The work does come together as a nice selection of vignettes and stories in a way that begs comparison with greater works (aforementioned Winesburg, Ohio).  But this debut effort leaves me wanting more from the author--and that is always a good thing.

**** Recommended

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