Saturday, May 15, 2010

Dear Great Book Guru,

The other night I was at Roots, a great restaurant in Sea Cliff, and I overheard a group of women discussing a new book one of them had just read. I think the title was THE IMPERFECTIONIST. Have you heard of it and would you recommend it? Perennial Eavesdropper

Dear Perennial,
I too was at Roots the other night with friends. In fact, we have a Roots Rendezvous every Tuesday- what a treat and the Santoro family always makes everyone feel so welcome! But back to the book- THE IMPERFECTIONIST by Tom Rachman is a wonderful, wonderful book that I just read this weekend. The story is fascinating and the format ingenious. Each of the chapters could stand on its own as a perfect short story but the cumulative effect of connecting characters within the overall theme of the rise and fall of a great newspaper is magical. In each of the ten chapters, we meet a different staff member -from the revered publisher to a young copy editor- and in short italicized essays connecting the chapters, we learn about the owners of the paper- the Ott family. While there is a focus on one person per chapter, we get to see each of them through the eyes of all the other characters so there is Rashamon/kaleidoscopic effect. In addition, each chapter has a shocking- sometimes brutal, sometimes heartbreaking- ending. When the book begins, it is 1953 and the paper is just being launched; at the conclusion it is 2007 and the paper has just folded. In effect, we are witnesses to the history of the modern newspaper business. Highly recommended! Check out for additional recommendations.

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