Notes and quotes, mostly quotes from Anthony Marra’s book The Tsar of Love and Techno.
- Here we meet Galina’s rich husband.
- “I spent the first morning writing Tourist Bureau on a piece of cardboard…. I taped the sign to the front door, but within five minutes it had disappeared…. After the fifth sign, I went to the kitchen and drank the vodka bottle the minister had sent over in celebration until I passed out in tears on the floor. So ended my first day as Tourist Bureau chief.”
- “Over the following weeks, I designed a brochure. The central question was how to trick tourists into coming to Grozny voluntarily. For inspiration, I studied pamphlets from the tourist bureaus of other urban hellscapes: Baghdad, Pyongyang, Houston. From them I learned to be lavishly adjectival, to treat prospective tourists as semiliterate gluttons, and to impute reports of kidnapping, slavery, and terrorism to the slander of foreign provocateurs.” p 91-92 worth reading aloud, gets really funny.
- Nayda the neighbor and former co-worker sees the censorship artist’s brother in censored paintings and it was for her dissertation.
- “… she says she will move to Sweden. I fear for her future in a country whose citizenry is forced to assemble its own furniture.”
- his wife and child in the famous painted field. landmines.
- “If you want to be a martyr go join them in the woods.”
- He takes businessmen tourists to his little house museum. “This is what remains, the charred canvases cry. You cannot burn ash! You cannot raze rubble! …I give myself a long overdue promotion. No longer am I deputy. As of today, I am director of the Grozny Museum of Regional Art.”
- “Let’s give the thirteenth richest man in Russia an intestinal parasite!”
- “The office doors of dead administrators clatter beneath us….” he is with Galina in this scene.
Hoping to kick up the conversation a bit at club next week, so I’m sharing some notes for conversation. From the Tsar of Love and Techno story Granddaughters.
- “How could Soviet jurisprudence remain infallible if it failed to recognize innocence?”
- “expurgated from their own histories. In photographs, they donned India ink masks.”
- “for a man determined to wring maximum productivity from his prisoners before they died, the ballet proved an effective coercion.”
- “”the second principal of the Moral Code of the Builder of Communism: conscientious labor for the good of society – he who does not work, neither shall he eat.”
- “Galina’s father knew her best hope for prosperity would come from dulling all that made her exceptional until the plural voice accepted her as one of its own.”
- “rock and roll inscribed by phonograph onto exposed X-rays.”
- “Yellow fog enshrouded the city like a varnish aged upon the air…. Rain burned our skin.”
- White Forest – manmade woods of metal trees. Comes up in a later story too, I think.
- “a romantic stroll around Lake Mercury”
- “You not only mine the fuel of the Soviet Union, he proclaimed, you are the fuel of the Soviet Union.” A repeated line that may contain irony.
- “The world had feared us. A paternal state had provided. Now what did we have? Epidemics and addictions.”
- “We reconsidered our grandmothers. Perhaps theirs was a necessary suffering, an evil justified by a greater good.”
- Galina’s father was the prison boss.
- “Ninety-five percent of the world’s catalytic converters are made with Kirovsk palladium and our own town prospers beneath denser layers of pollution thanks to the efforts of American and European environmentalists hell-bent on keeping their skies clean.”
- “…what makes them unremarkable is what keeps them alive.”
So, with Luke’s help, I’m hoping to kick up the conversation a bit, so I’m sharing some notes for conversation. From the Tsar of Love and Techno.
- Artist first, censor second – first words
- Humor: His nephew had his father’s forehead, “His future lay under a hat.”
- Humor: “How could you kill yourself with underwear.”
- Did he betray his own brother?? – “You prove your loyalty through betrayal.”
- He told his nephew of the Tsar’s huge painting of the future of the country, used all the nation’s resources, got bigger and bigger, people went without under the huge painting of their glorious future.
- False threat of his assistant who he was mean to.
- Lunch break tunnel walks. To deal with censorship?
- 2 sided painting in his home w/ leopard and Stalin.
- Relates to 1984 etc as he is a censor/correction artist.
- Painting his brother in everything.
- Dancer’s hand.
Here’s the pick for next club: https://www.amazon.com/Tsar-Love-Techno-Stories/dp/0770436455
So my address is 13630 Via Varra, but we’re in a complex of complexes. Mine is Terracina. There is a big fountain and roundabout out front and that is right where we’ll be meeting for games and hangs. Parking is to the left or right and you can park anywhere that’s open. Club will be up in my place.
If you can, bring your beer in cans. I’m not sure the rules on glass in the commons area. Shouldn’t be a big deal either way.
I’ll be making sloppy joes. If anyone wants to bring chips or a snack that would be cool.
Call or text me if you have any trouble finding the place 720.288.9718
RSVP for Club here (I know you won’t) its at Chris Dorsey’s new house 13630 Via Varra Way, Broomfield, CO 80020. He is cooking us food. Bring drinks.
Erik our VP is bringing the picks for voting.
- The Tsar of Love and Techno – Anthony Marra
- The Underground Railroad – Colson Whitehead
- The Sympathizer – Viet Thanh Nguyen
- The Angel Esmeralda – Don DeLillo
See you there.
The Tsar of Love and Techno – Anthony Marra – 384 pages
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.
The Underground Railroad – Colson Whitehead – 432 pages
Winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award, the #1 New York Times bestseller from Colson Whitehead, a magnificent tour de force chronicling a young slave’s adventures as she makes a desperate bid for freedom in the antebellum South
Cora is a slave on a cotton plantation in Georgia. Life is hell for all the slaves, but especially bad for Cora; an outcast even among her fellow Africans, she is coming into womanhood—where even greater pain awaits. When Caesar, a recent arrival from Virginia, tells her about the Underground Railroad, they decide to take a terrifying risk and escape. Matters do not go as planned—Cora kills a young white boy who tries to capture her. Though they manage to find a station and head north, they are being hunted.
In Whitehead’s ingenious conception, the Underground Railroad is no mere metaphor—engineers and conductors operate a secret network of tracks and tunnels beneath the Southern soil. Cora and Caesar’s first stop is South Carolina, in a city that initially seems like a haven. But the city’s placid surface masks an insidious scheme designed for its black denizens. And even worse: Ridgeway, the relentless slave catcher, is close on their heels. Forced to flee again, Cora embarks on a harrowing flight, state by state, seeking true freedom.
Like the protagonist of Gulliver’s Travels, Cora encounters different worlds at each stage of her journey—hers is an odyssey through time as well as space. As Whitehead brilliantly re-creates the unique terrors for black people in the pre–Civil War era, his narrative seamlessly weaves the saga of America from the brutal importation of Africans to the unfulfilled promises of the present day. The Underground Railroad is at once a kinetic adventure tale of one woman’s ferocious will to escape the horrors of bondage and a shattering, powerful meditation on the history we all share.
The Sympathizer – Viet Thanh Nguyen – 384 pages
The winner of the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, as well as six other awards, The Sympathizer is the breakthrough novel of the year. With the pace and suspense of a thriller and prose that has been compared to Graham Greene and Saul Bellow, The Sympathizer is a sweeping epic of love and betrayal. The narrator, a communist double agent, is a “man of two minds,” a half-French, half-Vietnamese army captain who arranges to come to America after the Fall of Saigon, and while building a new life with other Vietnamese refugees in Los Angeles is secretly reporting back to his communist superiors in Vietnam. The Sympathizer is a blistering exploration of identity and America, a gripping espionage novel, and a powerful story of love and friendship.
Winner of the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction
Winner of the 2016 Edgar Award for Best First Novel
Winner of the 2016 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction
Winner of the 2016 Dayton Literary Peace Prize for Fiction
Winner of the 2015 Center for Fiction First Novel Prize
Winner of the 2015-2016 Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature (Adult Fiction)
Winner of the 2016 California Book Award for First Fiction
Winner of the 2017 Association for Asian American Studies Award for Best Book in Creative Writing (Prose)
Finalist for the 2016 PEN/Faulkner Award
Finalist for the 2016 PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Fiction
Finalist for the 2016 Medici Book Club Prize
Finalist for the 2015 Los Angeles Times Book Prize (Mystery/Thriller)
Finalist for the 2016 ABA Indies Choice/E.B. White Read-Aloud Award (Book of the Year, Adult Fiction)
Shortlisted for the 2017 International Dublin Literary Award
Named a Best Book of the Year on more than twenty lists, including the New York Times Book Review, Wall Street Journal, and Washington Post
The Angel Esmeralda – Don DeLillo – 224 pages
A finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction and the Story Prize, the first ever collection of “dazzlingly told” (The New York Times) short stories—now available as a trade paperback.
Set in Greece, the Caribbean, Manhattan, a white-collar prison and outer space, this “small masterpiece of short fiction” (USA Today) is a mesmerizing introduction to Don DeLillo’s iconic voice. In “Creation,” a couple at the end of a cruise somewhere in the West Indies can’t get off the island—flights canceled, unconfirmed reservations, a dysfunctional economy. In “Human Moments in World War III,” two men orbiting the earth, charged with gathering intelligence and reporting to Colorado Command, hear the voices of American radio, from a half century earlier. In the title story, Sisters Edgar and Grace, nuns working the violent streets of the South Bronx, confirm the neighborhood’s miracle, the apparition of a dead child, Esmeralda.
Nuns, astronauts, athletes, terrorists and travelers, the characters in The Angel Esmeralda propel themselves into the world and define it. These nine stories describe an extraordinary journey of one great writer whose prescience about world events and ear for American language changed the literary landscape.
At our last club, we chose the YA summer read The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie. Our next club meeting is August 25th (I think… event page to come) at Chris Dorsey’s new place in Broomfield.