The Tsar of Love and Techno

The Tsar of Love and Techno: Stories

Marketing is a start.

But it’s word of mouth that rules this world.

And I’m telling you to read Anthony Marra’s new book, “The Tsar of Love and Techno.” Not because it has music in the title, but because it will make you forget about your little life and its everyday troubles and will take you away to a world so horrible you’ll be thankful you live on the underside of this great nation of ours.

Maybe you read Marra’s previous book, “A Constellation of Vital Phenomena.” Probably not, because it’s about war in Chechnya, which most Americans can’t pick out on a map, certainly not me, all I know is the Russians got their ass kicked there. Kinda the way Apple’s getting its ass kicked in streaming music. The big kahuna doesn’t always win. That’s a myth we believe in in order to make order in this world. If the Yankees spend a fortune they should be World Champions, right? But no, little KC and St. Louis are the powerhouses.

Not that I would have bought “A Constellation of Vital Phenomena,” it was a gift from Daniel Glass. Who sends items on a  regular basis, because he cares. Kinda strange in today’s dog eat dog world where everybody’s out for themselves. But Daniel learned from the masters decades back, before life got coarse, and he’s passionate about music, but nearly equally as passionate about books.

As am I.

Didn’t used to be. It was the Kindle that got me. Felice bought me one for my birthday back in 2009 and I’ve been on a reading tear ever since. I was intrigued by not only the new technology, but the low price of books, I felt I was on the leading edge of a revolution, which I was until the publishing industry and its compliant authors took back the power from the Seattle giant and killed the business. You see they wanted it for themselves. Which is kinda why novels are stagnant. Because it’s a club and you’re not a member, they don’t want you. You think record execs are bad, publishers are much worse, kinda like movie executives on steroids, people who believe they’re better than us. And I’m not going to laud the uneducated, but the publishing world is everything I hate about New York, where your pedigree rules and it’s all about keeping everybody else down. Come on, have you seen Donald Trump’s act?

Books are so passe it’s laughable. And so many are written by graduates of writing workshops where the standard is unreadability. It’s like they pack their tomes with words you have to look up to make them feel better about themselves. Whereas the first criterion of a book is readability.

And I’d be lying if I told you “The Tsar of Love and Techno” cuts like butter. I’m the kind of reader who has to get everything, who can’t skim, who wants to be able to picture it in my mind. But I advise you to run roughshod and go for the plot, and then you’ll get into the rhythm of this book.

Of short stories.

No, wait a minute, hold on, they’re linked!

Yes, it’s really one big book. Well, kinda slim actually. But the characters reappear and when they do it’s like finding out the clue to a crossword you didn’t know you were doing, the satisfaction is palpable.

As is the wisdom.

That’s why I read novels, for the wisdom.

“People who have it easy are always telling you how hard it is.”


People who are truly working hard don’t complain, they believe the results of their efforts are sufficient. But dilettantes, those who need us to admire them, they keep telling us how hard their lives are…as they go nowhere.

“Wealth announces itself with what’s easy to break and impossible to clean.”

Ever see a white rug in a poor person’s house? Where you find plastic plates and linoleum flooring?

“You know I hate stories.”

I live for them. I want to hear yours. Where you came from, how you got here, where you want to go, how you feel about it all. Especially the loss, the one who got away, the time you got fired…I want to experience your humanity. But someone close to me does not. If it’s more than sentence, she tells you to stop. I thought she was the only one, but now I’ve read this book.

“…but the obvious is only obvious when it happens to someone else. We’ve all ended up with men we’d pity others for marrying.”

Everybody is not a winner, everybody can’t be married to a movie star. Life is about compromise, about seeing the good, which ultimately transcends the mediocre, the less than you hoped for. If you’re not willing to roll with the changes, you’re not going to get anywhere. Kinda like the people I know who never married, no one was ever good enough. And you don’t have to be that good, you just have to stop judging and stop worrying about what other people think. Because so many people have a heart of gold if you’d just start mining for it.

“It takes nothing less than the whole might of the state to erase a person, but only the error of one individual – if that is what memory is now called – to preserve her.”

I guess you’ve got to read the book to get that one. About the artist whose job it is to paint people out of history, the one who turns his brother into the government.

This all happens in Russia. From the revolution to now. What’s it like to be right and still be wrong. Just ask the people who plead guilty to get out of jail…we’ve got that problem in modern America, those who didn’t do it who say they did so they can get back to their regular lives sooner.

And then there are those exiled to Siberia. Where the mines will kill you and you can kiss ass but you’re still not getting back to Moscow.

Unless you’re beautiful.

But then you’re haunted by where you came from…until you screw up and return. It’s as if Brad Pitt or Angelina Jolie lost all their money and cred and had to return to where they grew up, and you rubbed elbows with them at the grocery store, what would that feel like? Read this book and you’ll find out.

We’re in this together.

But we don’t know it. I’d say those in power want to keep us divided but the truth is they can’t shoot straight, and life is so difficult that if we just stopped trying to climb the greased pole, if we were just nicer to each other, if we just realized we were the same…

We’d be so much happier.

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