The Tsar of Love and Techno: Stories

tsar

The Tsar of Love and Techno: Stories by Anthony Marra – 10/10

I don’t give 10’s. In my mind, I award the best books 9’s because I want to leave room for the experience to be surpassed. I have to leave room to be blown away. But then…

This book blew me away.

Everything about it is wonderful. Anothony Marra writes prose as if it were poetry. It’s spare, lyrical and beautiful, but with all the information you need to imagine the story properly. I loved how the book penetrated the stoic Soviet cliché while simultaneously reinforcing it. The characters in this book are tough! But through the magic of literature they are rendered all too human. I wept for them.

Then there was the structure. It’s so innovative. The mix-tape metaphor is nice, but it’s not what really – in the end – strings everything together. Rather it’s insight into the narrators that we’ve gotten from other characters perspectives from stories we’ve already finished. The soldier in the second story appears as a secondary character and a younger man later on in the book in a story focused on an entirely different female character. It’s a revolving cast of characters we’ve already been introduced to, often only in passing. The end result feels like a novel. It’s sublime.

Has anyone else read this book? I’m going to seek out the author’s other novel forthwith.

 

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