4 out of 5: In this collection of linked short stories, each story follows the perspective of an employee (or, in one case, a devoted reader) of an international English-language newspaper based in Rome. As a graduate of the Columbia School of Journalism and with experience as a foreign correspondent stationed in Rome, Rachman is well-qualified for his subject. Every story is graced with his first-hand knowledge of the industry and his obvious love of the profession. Many of the same characters appear in several stories, creating a book that falls somewhere between a short story collection and a novel.
With lightening-quick prose that’s heavy on dialog, Rachman catches his characters at tense, often life-changing, moments. On the whole, these are energetic and suspenseful stories, filled with crises and stress. I often found myself disappointed at the end of each one, not because the stories aren’t good but because they’re almost too good. I wanted each one to continue. The stories of Rachman’s full-fledged characters could support several full-length novels, and these brief glimpses into their chaotic lives left me craving more. The Imperfectionists confronts some of life’s most difficult moments without ever losing its snappy and entertaining style.