CapRadio Reads

CapRadio Reads is a book club and online reading community, hosted by Capital Public Radio. Moderator Vicki Lorini and host Donna Apidone encourage you to participate in person or on the website.

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The Tsar Of Love And Techno

January 2016 book selection

The Tsar Of Love And Techno

by Anthony Marra

January 20, 2016

It isn't enough to have Anthony Marra, author of The Tsar of Love and Techno, and recently nominated for the National Book Critic Circle Award, as our guest next week. Tuesday, January 26, is also our big Anniversary Party and all that goes with that. But wait, there's more. 

We have a pretty incredible lineup of books to read and authors to meet in 2016. Now that we have added a second seating for our Face To Face meetings, we can accommodate up to 80 CapRadio Readers to discuss books like C. W. Gortner's Mademoiselle Chanel and Sara Gruen's At The Water's Edge. You will also be able to meet Jan Ellison, whose book, A Small Indiscretion, wowed me. More authors and books to come, but I don't want to give away all our secrets.

There is one more thing I can tell you. Our wonderful bookseller partners, Time Tested Books, have put together a terrific opportunity for you to save money and time, and be among the first to get your books for future meetings and events. This concept is so new we haven’t yet named it. You sign up once, and you will receive each of our selections for the next five months. That’s plenty of time to read them before our discussions. You will be able to choose from a generous discount on the books or free shipping. The main thing is that you won't have to worry about not having a copy of the book when you want it. It will come to you automatically every month. We think this is a great idea, and we so appreciate Time Tested for working with us. 

We'll see you soon, on the 26th, and we'll have more details then.

January 13, 2016

We have winners in three categories: Author, cookie and audience.

Thanks to one of our own fabulous staff members at Capital Public Radio, we have a very special Russian cookie for you to enjoy at our anniversary event!

You can be in our crowd on Tuesday, January 26 at 6pm, to join our celebration. We will celebrate three years of CapRadio Reads, as well as Anthony Marra and his second book, The Tsar of Love and Techno.  Anthony is the first and probably only repeat author at CapRadio Reads, and I can tell you now, that he will be asked back with each new book. That's how good they are, and how delightful he is. 

Donna Apidone will lead the conversation with Marra. She has finished her playlist for the evening, the appetizers and wine have been ordered, and I'll get to baking the cookies soon. If you haven't gotten your tickets yet, please do, because we will pack the house for this very special evening. 

Don't forget to get a copy of C.W. Gortner's Mademoiselle Chanel so you will be ready for our February book club meetings on February 9 at 2pm and 6pm. 

We look forward to seeing you soon.

January 6, 2016

With all the "best of" and "most read" lists of 2015 done with, it's time to figure out what we will be reading in 2016. We are fortunate at CapRadio Reads to have some of those choices already made.

Of course, you are probably already reading Anthony Marra's new book of connected short stories, The Tsar of Love and Techno.  If you aren't, you’d best get started since he will be with us on Tuesday, January 26 at 6pm.  Read it if you need a laugh, read it if you need to feel warmer, or just read it because he is the best!

You may also want to get ahead of the game and pick up C. W. Gortner's book Mademoiselle Chanel, now available in paperback. This will be our February selection and, because of the late date of our January event, you'll only have two weeks to read it. It's historical fiction, but very well researched. As one reviewer said, "It will grab you by the pearls and not let you go.” Much has been written about Coco's life, and this gives us some insight into why she appeared to have collaborated with the Nazis during World War Two.

So, what else will we read? I just made a promise to read 60 books this year. In 2015, I pledged to read 52 -- one a week.  I made it, and then some. How else can I find books for us all to enjoy? 

Wishing you all a Sweet Sixteen (2016, that is) full of books and authors you love. Happy New Year from all of us at CapRadio Reads. See you soon!

December 30, 2015

When I read a book that is truly excellent, it comes to me as a colorful painting. I can picture the characters in my head, and the landscape is so real, I think I could, if I had the artistic talent, create a photographic likeness of the author’s words.

Anthony Marra's new book of interconnected short stories, The Tsar of Love and Techno, is such a book.  Russia, especially in the winters of Stalin and the Communist Era, is often described as a bleak, white-washed landscape. I had imagined it as cold and barren for miles. 

After reading The Tsar, I still think of northern Asia as bleak, but now I imagine so many bright spots. The leopard print, on the bathing suits at Lake Mercury, is as clear and bright as that animal in a rain forest.  The hand, purposely left visible in the otherwise doctored photograph of a ballerina, is pink and healthy in my mind’s eye. Marra turns the dark, cold setting into a full technicolor home movie.  His characters are so three-dimensional, they pop right off the pages.

There are so many things I want to ask Marra about these people and places. I can't wait to see him again. If you received this book for Christmas, or if you bought it as a gift for yourself, get right into it, and then get yourself a ticket to our party. 

Anthony Marra will be "in conversation" with CapRadio’s Donna Apidone on Tuesday, January 26 at 6 p.m.  The wine will flow and the talk will be smart, so don't miss this event. We'll see you there.

December 23, 2015

This is the big week. You are putting the finishing touches on your wrapping, packing up the cookies and readying the sleigh to go over the river and through the woods to Grandmother's house for your holiday celebrations. 

If you are still looking for that perfect gift, we can help! For a special person on your list, get a ticket to see Anthony Marra in conversation with CapRadio host Donna Apidone on January 26th at 6pm. The ticket is a great stocking stuffer, especially when accompanied by Marra’s latest book, The Tsar of Love and Techno.

We look forward to seeing you at CapRadio Reads and toasting a New Year of wonderful authors and fantastic books and conversations.

We at CapRadio Reads wish you a very Merry and book-filled Christmas. 

December 16, 2015

It's so cold, it feels like Siberia. Well, probably not THAT cold. 

We know how cold Siberia can be, just by reading The Tsar of Love and Techno. We can feel the cold and smell the fumes in a former Siberian labor camp that has become a toxic hell. The cold is palpable – it’s in the weather of this place and in the hearts of its villains -- in this incredible collection of linked stories, written by Anthony Marra, our guest author for January. 

The Tsar of Love and Techno is more than a series of stories. It is rich in personalities, holding a collection of some of the most hapless, loving, hysterical and tragic characters I have known. We know a Polish ballerina only through her hand, left waving as the rest of her is erased from reality by the censor's brush. We meet her again through her granddaughter, who appears later in another story as the winner of the Miss Siberia contest. With Marra's extreme talent, characters and day-to-day occurrences become fairy tales, of the Grimm variety, and landscapes on the moon.

Please join us on Tuesday, January 26 at 6pm, for our Third Anniversary Party with CapRadio host Donna Apidone in conversation with Anthony Marra. It will be an unforgettable evening.

December 9, 2015

This is how the cookie crumbles:
As you know, Anthony Marra, author extraordinaire of the new book of interrelated short stories, The Tsar of Love and Techno, will be with us for CapRadio Reads’ third anniversary celebration on Tuesday, January 26 at 6pm. There are a few tickets left, but we expect a sellout. 
If you have been to any of our author events, you know we always have a lovely spread of appetizers and wine. We also always have a special cookie made just for that event. We had Madeleines for one French event and sugar cookies in the shape of the Eiffel Tower for another. We had oatmeal cookies for a book about a Mom and Italian cookies for our Pizza Bible event.
Now I'm at a loss. I just don't know what kind of cookie to make for this upcoming event. Anthony Marra’s stories start in Stalinist Russia and end at the height of Communist rule. Somehow, a Russian Tea Cake just doesn't seem right. If you've read the book, please send me a suggestion in our comments section. Even if you haven't read it, but you have a favorite Russian cookie, let me know. 
So, while you are enjoying cakes and cookies at all your holiday parties, imagine yourself munching at our anniversary event -- Anthony Marra in conversation with Donna Apidone at CapRadio Reads on January 26 -- and give me some of your best cookie ideas.
Cheers to you all and to all a good night.

December 2, 2015

Is your head filled with visions of sugarplums? We've survived Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday. In our family, we have one new baby, and one more coming next week, but Christmas waits for no man (or woman), so it’s time for shopping. How about a few suggestions for the folks on your list?

My Kitchen: 136 Recipes That Saved My Life.  Ruth Reichl, former editor of Gourmet Magazine, has stepped away from her memoir and novel writing to do this wonderful cookbook and memoir about the days just after Gourmet closed its doors. Very well written and delicious, all in one book.

The Muralist by B.A. Shapiro. Shapiro wrote one of CapRadio Reads’ favorites, The Art Forger. This one, also about artists, and what drives them, is a winner and a good bet for any art lover.

Circling The Sun by Paula McClain. This book is for everyone on your list. It’s a novelization of the life of Beryl Markham, by the author of The Paris Wife.  Well done, and of interest to those who like adventure, travel, history and biographies. I couldn't put it down.

The Tsar of Love and Techno by a CapRadio Reads favorite (can you tell I’m a fan?), Anthony Marra. Not only will he be with us in January, but he is also on every single must-read list this Fall. This collection of interlinked short stories is so beautifully written you will read it in one sitting, possibly staying up all night. Give it to your family and friends, so they will know what you are raving about.

After you've finished your book shopping, be sure to click on our ticket link on Eventbrite so you can buy a ticket or two for stocking stuffers to our Third Anniversary Party with Donna Apidone in conversation with Anthony Marra. Tuesday, January 26 at 6pm. We'll talk books, listen to some music, have a glass of wine and an appetizer or two, and celebrate CapRadio Reads. 

Happy shopping, and I look forward to seeing you in January.

November 25, 2015

Six Degrees of Separation
My career in the book business started at a little shop in Palo Alto, California, called Shirley Cobb's Books. It was a lovely store, we sold only hardcover books, and we were not allowed to wear pants to work, only skirts for the "ladies.” Our owner was the daughter of Ty Cobb, the famously nasty, but great, baseball player from Georgia. His daughter was just as gruff, but just as great. Her book shop was a family of booksellers (Joan Baez Sr. worked with me) and customers (Wallace Stegner and Dr. Seuss were regulars). Because we were located so close to Stanford, we had a large contingent of professors and students coming through our store on a daily basis. Having Wallace Stegner as a customer, I had an opportunity to see what he was reading, as well as what he was writing, and it was all good. 
While at Stanford, Stegner founded a fellowship program. One recipient of the Stegner Fellowship is Anthony Marra, who is our featured author for the January anniversary party for CapRadioReads. 
Marra is in good company.  Ken Kesey worked on his novel One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest while a Stegner Fellow. Raymond Carver, Tobias Wolff and Scott Turow have all been Stegner Fellows. Now, Anthony Marra not only joins a long list of distinguished writers who have honed their craft at Stanford, he is bringing along new students with his teaching. Imagine the fantastic things that will come from this program.
We are so fortunate to have Anthony Marra back at CapRadioReads, this time with his extraordinary new collection of short stories called The Tsar of Love and Techno. Please join us on January 26 at 6 p.m. for an evening with Anthony and Donna Apidone In Conversation.  It will be an evening you will long remember.
Reserve your space soon. We expect a sellout.

November 18, 2015

I cannot write a word this week without mentioning the attacks on one of my favorite cities, Paris. People around the world are expressing sadness, even anger, about what happened, but I feel that bringing back wonderful memories of trips there, and re-reading the best books about the City of Light, might be helpful. Three books immediately come to mind. If you have others, please leave us a comment, so we can expand the list. 

The first book is one I read years ago, and I have been referencing it ever since. It's called Paris to the Moon, by New Yorker writer Adam Gopnik. He has written some compelling pieces this week, but this book, written long ago, is about his life as an expat in Paris with his young family. He explains that living in a new city in a new country must be navigated in the same way he adjusts to a new son. There are new routines, new language and a new appreciation for things previously unknown. He clearly loves the city, and he has a funny and honest way of describing some typically French situations.

The second book is new. In The Little Paris Bookshop, by Nina George, we meet Monsieur Perdu, a literary apothecary, who has a bookstore on the Seine. Perdu has an intuitive knack for finding the exact book a reader needs to mend a broken heart. The only one he can't seem to heal is himself. This book is a love letter to books and to Paris.

The third book needs no explanation. Eloise in Paris, by Kay Thompson, is an absolute joy. Just read it. You will smile all day long.

These books will give you a renewed love for Paris. You may even be inspired to plan a trip. Either way, I think you will enjoy the journey.

While you are planning, don't forget to plan a visit to our event on January 26 at 6pm to hear Donna Apidone interview Anthony Marra about his new book, The Tsar of Love and Techno. It is fantastic. This is our Third Anniversary Party, so it will be an extra special night for CapRadio Reads. I hope to see you there.


November 10, 2015

Out With The Old, In With The New

What a glorious year we have had at CapRadio Reads.  We capped our year off with another stellar event, this time with Janis Cooke Newman and her book, A Master Plan For Rescue. 
We will meet here on this page for a few weeks to talk about what we're reading, what books are on our Christmas lists, and maybe even what books you would like to see us do in 2016. 
Our New Year here at CapRadio Reads is going to start off with
some serious fireworks.  Can you believe we are going to be celebrating our THIRD Anniversary? For this very special occasion, we are bringing back one of our absolute all-time favorite guest authors, Anthony Marra. 
When Tony was here last, he had just written his first novel, A Constellation Of Vital Phenomena. We knew the minute we read it that this was something special. Apparently, the rest of the world has caught on, and they agree with us. 
Marra's new book, The Tsar Of Love And Techno, has received the highest praise possible from every newspaper and blogger and, of course, from NPR itself. 
When an author's first novel is such a hit, one is afraid nothing will ever match up.  Well, this new book is, if possible, even better. We are so excited to see Mr. Marra again and rejoice in his success.  Please join us, Tuesday, January 26 at 6pm, in what will be a very crowded event to celebrate Anthony Marra, his new book
and our anniversary. This one will sell out very fast. 
Be sure and reserve your seat today.
Happy Holidays, and good reading from all of us at CapRadio

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