Publisher's Note:  

From the New York Times bestselling author of A Constellation of Vital Phenomena—dazzling, poignant, and lyrical interwoven stories about family, sacrifice, the legacy of war, and the redemptive power of art.

This stunning, exquisitely written 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. In stunning prose, with rich character portraits and a sense of history reverberating into the present, The Tsar of Love and Techno is a captivating work from one of our greatest new talents.

This book was sent to Compass Book Ratings for review by Hogarth

The Tsar of Love and Techno: Stories

by Anthony Marra

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Overall Review:  

If an advance copy of a book comes in its own special sleeve and wrapped in shrink wrap, you know you're probably getting something special. At least, that's how I felt. This book was so beautiful, even though it was unpolished. I loved that the publisher and the author took those extra steps to make me feel special. I don't think these feelings have anything to do with my enjoyment of what was inside this book, but who knows?

So, the cover of this book reads "The Tsar of Love and Techno: Stories". Right off the bat, I thought I was probably going to be bombarded with little chapters full of lovely characters that don't quite get their whole story across. WRONG! This book was different in several ways; one of them being that all of the characters that were introduced throughout seemed to make an appearance somewhere else in the book later on. Hooray! Their story didn't stop at the end of their little chapter, but it went on and on. I liked the way the author did this. I felt he was acknowledging that although he didn't have fully formed stories for each and every character, he loved what he had created and wanted to take care of them.

Another thing I liked was the time and place the characters were set in. It began in the past, and then slowly moved forward. But the people always carried the memories of those who I had previously read about, leaving me feeling like I really knew the characters. Whatever your reason for reading this book (liking the author, loving the cover, picking it up at random), I hope you find enjoyment in the "stories" that lay within.

Review of an Advance Reader Copy

Content Analysis:  

Profanity/Language:  4 religious exclamations; 2 mild obscenities; 2 derogatory names 5 scatological words; 5 anatomical words; 16 F-Word derivatives. 

Violence/Gore:  Rocket blasts cause a fire, a character is reported to be blinded; a character is reported to be shot in the foot by a gun; a guard is reported to beat a character brutally; criminal acts of various kinds are committed; suicide attempts are mentioned with no detail; a physically violent confrontation occurs in a brief scene; a character assumes he will be shot and killed; a girl is reported to have been injured while dancing ballet; bodies are found in the ground and reported that they look to have been shot and killed violently; a woman and child are reported to have died in an explosion; character is attacked and shot by two men; an animal is observed to nose a dead body and begin to eat it, some blood is reported to be gelling; a man discovers his wife's remains after she is reported to be killed violently; a character is observed being shot in the knee by an angry attacker; an attempted murder occurs in one brief violent scene.

Sex/Nudity:  Adults kiss; men joke about sex; men make jokes about sexually pleasuring themselves; used condoms are mentioned to be found in a couch; a man is implied to have raped his student and gotten her pregnant; a man is stripped when he is ushered into jail; a girl is observed to be in a very short skirt, men refer to her as a prostitute; a minor girl is reported to be unmarried and pregnant; a girl is referred to as having a pornographic effect on men; minors are mentioned to be nude and sexually active, there is no detail given; a man is referred to several times as a virgin; a father says to his son that he is the result of a broken condom; a man kisses his wife's neck; pornographic magazines are referred to with no detail.

Mature Subject Matter:  

Death, war violence, personal crises, criminal activity, mass execution, murder.

Alcohol / Drug Use:  

Brandy is mentioned to be served; an adult observed smoking; heroin use and production is mentioned several times; an adult is mentioned to be an alcoholic; an adult is said to be visibly drunk; a character dies from a drug overdose; drug trade is mentioned.

Reviewed By Lydia
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