Saturday, 14 August 2010
Journalists writing fiction (or are they?)
My summer reading included The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman, former editor of the International Herald Tribune in Paris. The backdrop to his first novel is an English-language paper based in Rome. The good times are over, circulation is down and it has failed to move into the brave new digital world. The remote owners aren't in the least bit interested. Each chapter looks at the frailties of one of the paper's characters - the has-been Paris correspondent, the pedantic corrections editor, the smart and cosmopolitan editor. As the paper falls apart, so do their lives. It is funny and just a bit close to home. If you work in newspapers, you will recognise the people and the scenario. It reminded me of the novel Still Lives, by my Northern Echo colleague Brian Page, which tracks the flawed lives of the characters on a 'fictitious' Northern newspaper, the Evening Leader. Also funny and, uncomfortably, even closer to home.