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The Idiocy and Brilliance of the Species

The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman

I gobbled this book up! (But not literally. See excerpt below.) Great character studies. Reminded me of a quote I heard once: "The great tragedy of life is that everyone has their reasons."


Here are a couple of excerpts:

He opens the paper to the culture pages, which have improved considerably under Arthur Gopal. Nevertheless, Herman spots an offender: the word “literally.” He snarls, wakes up his computer, and types:

  • literally: This word should be deleted. All too often, actions described as “literally” did not happen at all. As in, “He literally jumped out of his skin.” No, he did not. Though if he literally had, I’d suggest raising the element and proposing the piece for page one. Inserting ”literally” willy-nilly reinforces the notion that breathless nitwits lurk within this newsroom. Eliminate on sight—the usage, not the nitwits. The nitwits are to be captured and  placed in the cages I have set up in the subbasement. See also: Excessive Dashes; Exclamation Points; and Nitwits. (page 84)

~   ~   ~

Overnight, the paper disappeared from newsstands, taking with it the front-page banner, the characteristic fonts, the sports pages and the news, the business section and culture. Puzzle-Wuzzle and the obits.

The paper’s most loyal reader, Ornella de Monterecchi, trooped down to headquarters to demand that closure be reconsidered. But she had arrived too late. The doorman was kind enough to unlock the vacated newsroom. He turned on the flickering fluorescent beams and left her to wander.

The place was ghostly: abandoned desks and cables leading nowhere, broken computer printers, crippled rolling chairs. She stepped haltingly across the filthy carpeting and paused at the copydesk, still covered with defaced proofs and old editions. This room once contained all the world. Today, it contained only litter.

The paperthat daily report on the idiocy and the brilliance of the specieshad never before missed an appointment. Now it was gone. (page 269)


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