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Friday, At The Atlantic

I wrote about The Imperfectionists, a book I sorely wanted to like, and didn’t:

Journalism isn’t dying because the people who work in the industry are all cravens and fools. It would be convenient and comforting if that were true because then all you’d have to do is swap out the bad folks for good ones, and everything would be fine. But that’s not remotely the case. Rachman’s novel doesn’t want to deal in any substantive way with the reasons the news business is undergoing monumental change, and so he settles for an easy solution, and for unpleasant characters. If Rome is supposed to be a microcosm, the paper just one example of what’s happening to us all, then The Imperfectionists shares the same flaw Rachman thinks the newspaper business does. The novel doesn’t see further than the city, and it sees the people who populate it with a crooked eye. It doesn’t make for perspective, or even for exceptionally good entertainment.

The chapter I praise in this post is definitely very good, and I recommend reading that part of the novel when you’ve got twenty minutes or so in a bookstore, or the novel arrives in your local library. But the book isn’t as good, overall, as its ambitions.

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