That’s the name of the book I’m reading. I can never remember the title, only the author, Tom Rachman. His last name, not his first. As in I can only remember his family name, although in my mind it’s spelled "Rackman".
That’s a facet of growing older. Everything runs together to the point where you can remember the details, but not the headlines, not the big picture. You can remember what someone wore, but not their name. You can remember what the movie was about, but not its title. You can remember the music, but not the name of the album.
It was the front page review in the "New York Times Book Review". You know, the tabloid the erudite peruse every Sunday that I never paid much attention to until I got a Kindle and became a voracious reader, recalling my days in the back of the station wagon, consuming sports novels and biographies as we drove to Boston.
But the previous front page review book was such a disappointment. But I had nothing else to read. So I purchased "The Imperfectionists". And have been plowing through it ever since.
It’s not an easy read. I cannot tell you why. Because each story cuts me to the bone.
Yes, you see each chapter is a story, of a writer for an international newspaper in Rome. And in between is the history of the paper, how it got started, how it evolved. And the stories seem benign until the very end, when there’s a twist and a turn, not unbelievable, but true to life, just like my life, and I’m floored. Because right there on the page is something I experienced. Maybe literally. But oftentimes, it’s just an emotion.
Ever hold someone on a pedestal? For years? And then finally realize that you were wrong all along?
Or how about being involved with someone too good for you, too beautiful, too young, too rich…knowing at some point it’s going to end, and it does.
And what is it you’re trying to achieve. Do you desire to be average, does anybody truly desire that, or do you accede to it, or are you shooting for the stars? That question is answered too. Well, maybe not answered, that’s the weird thing about life, there are very few answers, but turned over, examined, to the point you get creeped out because you realize you’re living now, but you’re gonna die soon, forgotten by everyone except a few, who will ultimately die too.
I read a great review of the second "Sex and the City" movie. No, it wasn’t a positive review, everyone who wrote about the movie said it was trash, but something was said in this review that has stuck with me. The writer said the new film was lacking because the TV series was sad, had moments of sadness, and this movie does not.
Isn’t that life. We don’t get it much in modern art. People don’t do sadness anymore. It connotes losing. And if you even profess doubts, never mind actually lose, you’re kicked to the curb these days. We’ve only got time for winners.
And it’s not that we’re all losers, but each of our lives has moments of sadness. For some, it plays out on the world stage. For most it’s private. We don’t want to let it leak out. We’re mortified. We get up our gumption and soldier on, but it’s difficult.
Wrapped up in these stories in this book by Tom Rachman is sadness. And it’s so right, that even though you may never have heard of it, the book is selling briskly. That’s art. Not Lee DeWyze and the nitwits competing on television, but work done without spotlight, that when revealed to the world is spread by word of mouth, because each and every reader, listener or watcher is touched.