Book Review: Love is Strange (A Paranormal Romance) by Bruce Sterling

coversterling_sito1In his 2009 SXSW closing keynote Bruce Sterling said that he thought his latest book, The Caryatids, would be the last book of its kind.  The Kindle and its ilk were going to kill the hardcover.  He handed out copies to the kids.  It’s was a very fin de siècle sort of thing.  It’s now 2013, and Bruce has a new book out, Love is Strange (A Paranormal Romance), and it’s only available on the Kindle.  The future is what you make it.

Love is Strange is a story about two Futurists, her an Italian by way of Brazil, him a Seattle startup accountant geek.  They meet at a futurist conference in Capri, and proceed to fall in love.  Terrible, fraught, cinematic love.  The book reads very much like a self-aware 60’s gonzo romantic comedy about an American visiting Europe.  Things happen because they are fun, things work out because they make you happy to read about, and the only suspenseful conflicts are in the characters hearts.  The novel’s soaked in the 2009 era, women like Carla Bruni and the post-election Sarah Palin are recurring themes.  The Italian heroine is oh so very cinematically Italian.  She is Adorably Fraught With Concerns And Drama!

Readers and critics like to make connections between creators and their life situations.  Oh, this character is really that person, and he wrote this because of that.  It’s hard not to see that in this book.  In 2005 Bruce married Jasmina Tesanović, a very inspiring, out there Serbian futurist translator.  (She’s very nice, by the way.)  Bruce started spending a lot of time in Europe, a lot of time being less of a novelist and more of a futurist.  It wouldn’t be much of a stretch to imagine this book as a happy ode to their sort of romance.

Love is Strange isn’t a quick read.  It’s mostly dialog, lots of gushy romanic Italian dialog.  There’s a lot of Italian and Portuguese in it, with helpful translations at the end of chapters.  It’s a very charming book, and maybe a glimpse of a new more positive Bruce Sterling that’s been showing up recently.

Love is Strange is an easy recommendation to make If any of what I’ve described sounds appealing.  Love is Strange executes it well, and the end nicely wraps the package in a voodoo bow.