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The Tsar of Love and Techno
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Archive: Other Books > The Tsar of Love and Techno/Marra - 5 stars

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Anita Pomerantz | 6437 comments Unique, beautifully rendered, intellectually challenging . . .this book seems destined to be a classic. Marra uses a short story form, but for me, the book is a novel. The stories are definitely interwoven together, and as a reader, you have to work to find the links and understand the larger picture. I wish I had noted each character as I went and the linkages as I unearthed them. It reminded me of doing a crossword puzzle . . .with one word providing a clue to the next.

It's hard to provide a plot summary, but the short stories follow multiple generations of one family, a pair of brothers and one of the brother's lovers - - but the stories are not linear and the linkages are not immediately obvious, but rather are revealed. Some of the stories are very powerful and others served more as the glue that held the book together. The language was exquisite throughout.

All that being said, I enjoyed Marr's first book, A Constellation of Vital Phenomena more - - yet I think the structure of The Tsar of Love and Techno shows a more mature author. The writing revisits Russia and the Chechen War, but this sophomore effort is more original, more thought provoking and the writing so crisp. It is clear that every sentence is carefully considered.

Unfortunately, my overall feeling at the end of the book was one of awe as opposed to one of love. It's a book I'd thrust into the hands of aspiring writers, but not necessarily one I would share with all readers.


message 2: by Jen (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jen | 1545 comments Yay for the five stars. I both loved it and was in awe so I'm sad you didn't love it too.


message 3: by Anita (last edited Jun 21, 2016 02:20PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Anita Pomerantz | 6437 comments Jen wrote: "Yay for the five stars. I both loved it and was in awe so I'm sad you didn't love it too."

Me too, because I did love his first book. But it was WELL WORTH reading for me . . .what an incredible talent. I definitely was happy I did. However, I do question recommending this one for vacation reading, Jen! Your brain must work better than mine does on vacation. Fortunately, I waited until I got back.


Susie | 4488 comments I'm so excited about reading this. It's next up.


message 5: by Jen (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jen | 1545 comments lol! My job involves a lot of academic reading and writing. At my busiest, I don't have the capacity to read very complex books because I'm burnt out from the deep concentration required for certain work responsibilities.

I use my vacation times to read more complex books because I have the intellectual energy and concentration to do so then when not pulled by other work demands.

I guess I do beach reads backwards :)


Jennifer P. Pope (jenjunum) | 902 comments I really loved this one. I'm glad you liked it. I'm reading Constellation soon. I totally agree that each sentence was very carefully crafted. It felt like poetry to me sometimes, like he carefully weighed choosing "breeze" over "wind" or "gust" to get the feeling just right. I thought all real lovers of books would like it, maybe not casual readers and certainly not a "beach read". I watched an interview of Marra presenting this book to a group of librarians and I found him to be very engaging in person and adorable.


Ladyslott | 1880 comments I agree to the extent that I loved Constellation more. That said I thought this book was pure genius, and I almost want to read it again, something I rarely ever do. It is not a 'casual' book; I think you had asked for recommendations a few weeks ago and I am pretty sure I said this was a book that required involvement and concentration.


Anita Pomerantz | 6437 comments You did, Linda, and that'sbpart of the reason I went with Shotgun Lovesongs which was awesome for my vacation!

Jen, that actually makes complete sense to me. When I am on vacation, I feel like I want more mentally relaxing reads, but my quiet time is more when I am home and my husband is working and the young adults are sleeping. My job and my volunteer work aren't terribly intellectually taxing.


Anita Pomerantz | 6437 comments Jennifer, definitely a book lovers book! And I agree that every word seemed to be considered . . .in the very best of ways.


Booknblues | 5791 comments Anita wrote: "Unique, beautifully rendered, intellectually challenging . . .."

Glad that you liked it and I'm happy to see your rating. Marra who has only written 2 books is on my list of favorite authors...I can't wait to see what he writes next.


Susie | 4488 comments Me too Booknblues. He is just fabulous.


Jennifer P. Pope (jenjunum) | 902 comments Me too! A favorite. Love him!


JoLene (trvl2mtns) | 1532 comments Count me a fan girl as well!! I did prefer Constellation though, but I'm not as much a fan of short stories --- even when they create a broader fabric.


Susie | 4488 comments I am absolutely dying to read this! I even decided to ditch my book club book tonight and get started, but now my conscience is talking to me so I really should finish my book club book first, seeing as I run it!


Denizen (den13) | 1138 comments This is next in the queue. I absolutely loved Constellation and am very eager to give this one a spin.


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