The Tsar of Love and Techno

The Tsar of Love and Techno

Stories

Large Print - 2016
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This collection introduces a cast of remarkable characters whose lives intersect in ways both life-affirming and heartbreaking. A 1930s Soviet censor painstakingly corrects offending photographs, deep underneath Leningrad, bewitched by the image of a disgraced prima ballerina. A chorus of women recount their stories and those of their grandmothers, former gulag prisoners who settled their Siberian mining town. Two pairs of brothers share a fierce, protective love. Young men across the former USSR face violence at home and in the military. And great sacrifices are made in the name of an oil landscape unremarkable except for the almost incomprehensibly peaceful past it depicts.
Publisher: Farmington Hills, MI : Thorndike Press, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning, 2016, c2015.
Edition: Large print edition
ISBN: 9781410486554
Branch Call Number: FIC Marra
Characteristics: 443 pages (large print) ; 23 cm.

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KateHillier Apr 07, 2016

Don't be scared off by the "stories" bit on the cover. Yes, this is a short stories collection but they are all connected. It really reads a lot more like a novel than a collection even if it is organized that way. Each story takes place during a different time period in whatever iterat... Read More »


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a
arharris
Sep 03, 2016

This book has several short stories that take place in Russia- during and after the Soviet Union. The stories are connected by a fictional painting by a real Russian Chechen artist. The stories drift back and forth in time as we follow different characters but the first story starts ‘at the beginning’ in 1937 with a censor who’s job it was is to ‘delete’ people from pictures, at first he added a small level official to ‘Empty Pasture in the Afternoon’ but after his brother is killed by the state, he adds his brother to the background of this painting and every other painting/photo he edits. We then follow the ownership of the painting as well as those affected not only by the painting but by the actual empty pasture.
So far this is one of my favorite books of 2016. I would very much recommend it.

Utterly fantastic. An amazing, gorgeously written collection of interwoven short stories about Russian life and history. Marra is a master of language and creates memorable characters and stories with a great deal of depth. Easily one of the best books we've read all year (2016).

h
herpwop1
Jul 02, 2016

This is a brilliantly written book of interconnected stories that take place in Russia from 1937 to 2013. Marra expertly interweaves the various characters into the stories and as we read, we learn more and more about them. The characters' lives are at times desperate and almost always depressing, but there are moments of humor along the way and the reader can see the universality of their struggles. Marra is an engaging writer, although a few times he overreaches and takes the reader out of the story with a "look at me" simile or description. This is a very minor quibble - this author is definitely a writer to watch. I really loved this book and am looking forward to reading his previously published novel.

KateHillier Apr 07, 2016

Don't be scared off by the "stories" bit on the cover. Yes, this is a short stories collection but they are all connected. It really reads a lot more like a novel than a collection even if it is organized that way. Each story takes place during a different time period in whatever iteration of Russia/USSR is applicable for the time and they do all tie together at the end and it is fantastic.

It starts with a man working in Stalin's regime as an art censor, airbrushing people out of photographs and paintings who have fallen out of favour. In response to his brother being arrested and executed, he begins painting his brother into the background of every picture that he has to censor. His actions, and one particular picture he works on, keeps reappearing throughout the book and the stories of the people and families of people he censored out of pictures also cycle back again and again.

It is a very well done book. It also has some of the most quick witted writing I've seen since reading anything by Heather O'Neill. I found myself scrambling for bits of paper to stick in to the book to mark my favourite passages and lines for later since this is a library book I'm reading after all. This book will make you laugh but it will also make your chest tight. Highly, HIGHLY recommended.

multcolib_darceem Jan 07, 2016

Cleverly connected short stories in which a Soviet censor paints his disappeared brother into every photo he works on and an internet con artist gauges the gullibility of his victims by their declared affinity for Tom Hanks on Facebook. A wonderful read for fans of real-world fiction with a bit of satire.

eferry Dec 19, 2015

A collection of finely interwoven stories focused around a painting and life in Russia from the Stalinist era into the modern day. Marra creates believable and sympathetic characters within an amazing story.

A great read!

A memorable read in an original style. The character's echoes still haunt me.

s
santiano9
Nov 15, 2015

Did not get far into book before my interest completely died. Just did not pull me into the story at all.

g
GummiGirl
Nov 07, 2015

I think this is even better than A Constellation of Vital Phenomena. It has a clever structure and memorable (if not always sympathetic) characters, plus it brings Soviet and post-Soviet Russia to vivid life.

s
shayshortt
Oct 17, 2015

As a novel, these events would be loose, somewhat shapeless, and stylistically uneven. As short stories, they are deeply interconnected, and reflect the variety of experience in a country with a turbulent history. The connections feel natural rather than forced, and the collective result is greater than the sum of its parts.

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Quotes

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"I should’ve gone to class, but I hadn’t gone once this term and didn’t want to confuse the professor by showing up" (page 186).

If God has a voice, it is ours (page 328).

But now that I am in a position to make final judgments, none are necessary (page 327).

There’s no why about it. Work in a barbershop long enough and someday you’ll be the one getting your hair cut (page 314).

multcolib_darceem Jan 02, 2016

"His hair was a typographical error someone had scribbled out."

s
shayshortt
Oct 17, 2015

“That morning, the last images of Vaska’s face had been scratched into oblivion with a one ruble coin. That afternoon, I began to paint him into everything.”

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shayshortt
Oct 17, 2015

Violence: Murder Mutilation Execution War

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