The cover of the paperback actually makes you think of the frenzy of the newsroom with the headlined quotes of the reviewers and the pictured stack of tied up newspapers. I thought it was really well designed. The hard cover does not have the same effect since the quotes are missing. Since I have both copies, I feel I can tell you I prefer the look of the paperback.
This interesting little novel explores all of life’s human foibles and frailties in an exaggerated fashion, as it develops various characters in the print industry. Although it exposes the many levels of deceit, compromise, withdrawal, etc., that humans will sink to when driven by “need”, i.e., greed, survival, loss, loneliness, hopelessness and helplessness etc., it almost makes them sympathetic even in their need to exploit others in order to make up for their own shortcomings, laziness and insecurities. They disappointed me with their choices and behavior and I did not find them likable. The characters were often pathetic examples of human beings and it was hard to read some of the chapters because they were capable of such cruelty at the same time as they seemed loving and gentle. Many seemed unprepared for life and unwilling to learn how to live in a better way. They seemed to accept mediocrity as a standard.
Each character is separately examined in its own chapter, although all are linked in the end as they march onward in their drive to develop as "losers", imperfect human beings. Perhaps the message is that we are all imperfect in our own way but I wish I had been left with more hope for the improvement of the species!
In order to feel successful or accepted, rather than work toward perfection as a goal, “making it” in a positive way, the characters sometimes sacrificed those that loved them and respected them the most, in order to be with selfish, often unscrupulous, dishonest and unmotivated individuals. They wished to satisfy their own desires and achieve their often, undesirable ends!
I did find the number of different characters to be a problem, at times, because there were so many and they were sometimes only incidentally connected. The author made me constantly ask myself the question, “Should the individual’s happiness be the only goal and end result, regardless of the consequence for others”? Can we actually aspire to and achieve perfection or at least, a better way to live and work in the world without hurting or abusing others, without totally disregarding the effect of our actions upon others? The book makes you stop and think about human behavior and when you turn the last page, it will leave its mark upon you.