“A short story collection works best for me when I read a story a day until it’s done,” writes Sarah at Edge of Evening, and so I have been doing, or trying to, with Anthony Marra’s The Tsar of Love and Techno. I started reading it two weeks ago and will read the last story (of nine) tomorrow. I wish I hadn’t gone so many days without reading a story, because one story each day seems to be exactly the right dosage.
How I long to find the right amount of time and space for everything in my life, not just the reading of short story collections! Last year home was my word of the year, and I hoped that I would be able to find a place (in our home, in my weekly routine) for all the things that matter to me most. Of course this aspiration turned out to be too ambitious, but I did give up and give away quite a lot of things that I just don’t need or want anymore. And the work is ongoing. Among my current priorities is to make my way down a list of old obligations I’m still committed to meeting. Also, I’m seeking the right times each week to work on this blog.
But for today, I am committed (among other things) to reading just one more of Marra’s stories. Set mostly in post-Soviet Russia, the stories present a paradox. Despite the bleak prospects that most of the characters face, and although things don’t turn out so well for any of them, their stories are hardly depressing. For one thing, the stories are infused with a wry good humor. And too, each character’s attempts (successful or not) to understand him or herself and longing to connect with others seem in themselves to offer a kind of redemption.