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    I Loved This Book!

    Although The Tsar of Love and Techno is, superficially, a collection of "interwoven" stories, I quickly realized that the stories were so closely linked that I couldn't rate each story individually, as I would ordinarily do with a collection of short stories. Rather, The Tsar of Love and Techno is an immersive experience, with such a strong sense of time and place that it must be appreciated and reviewed as a whole. So many other reviewers have synopsized the various interlocking narratives and have rhapsodized over Marra's exquisite writing that I will not repeat those efforts here. Instead, I want to comment on two things which stood out for me. First was Marra's telling of "Granddaughters" in the first person plural (i.e., from the point of view of "we"). The "we" are a group of six women who are reflecting on their lost seventh member Lydia and the beauty they both admired and envied from afar, Galina. Of course, what they say is actually more a commentary on, and defense of, their own life choices. Marra has captured perfectly the voice of a group of girls, the tone of mingled jealousy of the one who got away and self-satisfaction at the fallen one forced to return. The second element I particularly enjoyed was how Marra tied his cast of characters together, not only through the bonds of friendship and family, but also with their connections to a particular landscape painting. Like the comic book in Emily St. John Mandel's Station Eleven , this painting moves from hand to hand, valued by some simply as an artistic object but by others because of what really happened on the hill depicted in it. As much as I admired Station Eleven, though, Marra's use of this device is so much more nuanced and organic. His writing in this regard is masterful. I did not particularly care for the book's cover, which, I am ashamed to admit, is why The Tsar of Love and Techno languished for so long on my to be read list. I should know better than to judge a book by its cover. I received a free copy of The Tsar of Love and Techno through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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