My boyfriend has a knack for knowing when I reach the last 20 pages of a book and chooses that moment to badger me with questions or otherwise distract me. (Even if he's not home at the time, it's uncanny, I'll start getting texts as soon as I near the finish line.) But as I dove into the final story in The Tsar of Love and Techno
, he knew to leave me alone. I was barely keeping it together over on my end of the couch and he would have had to deal with unintelligible sobs if he so much as asked, "What do you want for dinner?"
So I guess you could say I had a strong emotional response to this book. Marra really knows how to wield that deadly combination of humor and sadness. He knows just how to make you lower your guard, and then before you know it he's punched you in the gut, you're uncontrollably weepy, and snot is running down your face. Not just any book can make me feel so vulnerable.The Tsar of Love and Techno
is a series of time-hopping short stories that each revolve, in some way, around the actions of a Soviet censor. Using multiple narratives, Marra shows us the many ways that art can hurt, heal, inspire, and betray us. He shows that there is beauty in the pain and absurdity of life, and that can sometimes be our only comfort. Each character has depth and complexity, each is meticulously and expertly rendered. Each story is good enough on its own that it could serve as a stand alone, but together they're something else.