The Imperfectionists is the biography of a newspaper, from its birth to its death, told through interwoven stories of the lives of the people who shaped the paper and whose lives the paper shaped. There’s a “how did we get here?” theme that runs through each of the stories, reflecting the disorientation I (and I think a lot of people) feel when I step back and realize the cumulative effect of each small decision of my life. There’s also a sense of being at the mercy of forces beyond our control. In this book, the force often seems to be other people.
The stories fit together well, the characters were well-drawn and distinct. Most (maybe all?) of the stories deal with the difference between our public selves and our private selves, and the difference between how people view us and how it actually feels to be in our skin.
My two favorite stories were the one about Arthur Gopal and the one about Abbey Pinnola. I think that any of the stories could stand alone, but these two–and most especially the Abbey story–really stand on their own and read like short stories. They were also both very poignant and powerful examples of the depth of Self under the surface of what others perceive.
Reading this book was like eating a well-prepared raw foods meal: it was pleasant to consume and left me feeling satisfied but not logy and with the sense that I’d really nourished myself.