This week I'll write about books that I've recently read - or am still reading. I hope you find interest in this "snapshot" of ongoing activity.
Given a choice, I'll reach for a good novel before picking up the latest Buddhist book. And some very good novels have been published this year. My favorite so far is The imperfectionists by Tom Rachman. Simply put, it's a stupendous work.
The Imperfectionists yokes together a wide cast of characters, all associated with an English-language newspaper set in Rome. It's brilliantly, even magically constructed, deeply insightful, and wildly funny.
One character comments that the newspaper is a "daily report on the idiocy and the brilliance of the species" - and so is the novel itself. Here's a short excerpt:
Annika [the partner of an editor] crouches before the washing machine in their apartment, unloading damp clothes. "I'm beginning to suspect that my purpose in life is laundry," she says. "All the rest is just fleeting glory."
Menzies stands behind her and touches his forefinger to the crown of her head, following the swirl of her dyed-black hair. he open his palm across the top of her skull as if to measure it, then hooks his thumbs under the straps of her dungarees and tugs. She leans against his palm and kisses his fingers, looking up. "Seven hundred and twenty-eight socks last year," she tells him. "That how many I washed."
"Of course." She reaches into the washing machine and draws out a bedsheet that seems never to end.
Christopher Buckley, in his New York Times review of the novel began by saying:
This first novel by Tom Rachman, a London-born journalist who has lived and worked all over the world, is so good I had to read it twice simply to figure out how he pulled it off. I still haven’t answered that question, nor do I know how someone so young — Rachman turns out to be 35, though he looks even younger in his author photo — could have acquired such a precocious grasp of human foibles. The novel is alternately hilarious and heart-wrenching, and it’s assembled like a Rubik’s Cube.
If you like fiction, check it out!