My very first memory is about being alone. I’m one or two years old, and I’ve just woken up from a nap. It’s pitch black, and I’m standing in a creaky wooden crib, holding the bars, looking out into the small, windowless room of our apartment on Kobylanskaya Street. I’m supposed to call my babushka when I wake up, I know this, but for some reason I can’t say the words: Baba. Baba. They keep running through my head but not coming out into the world, into the darkness of the room, through the cluttered hallway and into the kitchen, where my grandma is boiling milk to pour into cheesecloth, her thin hair drenched with sweat, my sister circling the floor near her feet, carrying her favorite doll.
“I feel like most stories are really two stories. In putting those two together, I found the echoes between them. This one is very discernibly two stories. And it means a lot more as the last story of the collection, because then you see that this old Hungarian couple are echoes of my own grandparents, and that this survivor’s guilt the characters feel has a lot to do with mine. Even the little museum that Jed constructs has references to other stories in the collection. Not so overtly that it would be cheesy, but I want the sense that what he’s doing with that museum is what I’m doing with this collection. This sense of being an artist and a survivor in a world where a lot of people don’t make it.”
* Zhanna Slor *
A weekday is like a nearly full water glass. Most of it gets filled with whatever happens when you arrive at your desk, and collapse into that cheap plastic rolling chair that’s never comfortable no matter how you sit in it. Whatever’s left takes up that tiny bit of space—that always seems to fly by in an instant—between getting home and crashing into bed. It is vital, at least for me, to take advantage of those little nooks and crannies of time—that ten minutes when you happen to arrive to work early. The forty-five minutes left after making and eating lunch. That fifteen minutes before sleep, while you lay in bed awake, your body not quite ready to drift off yet.
* Zhanna Slor *
In the everlasting battle between book vs. movie, in this case, I would actually side with movie, since some of the writing, in my opinion, could have used a good bit of cutting. But overall, I ended up really connecting to the alternate reality she created. And not just because at least sixty percent of my dreams since adulthood for some reason involve some kind of post-apocalyptic future in which everyone must fight for survival, and therefore the world is very familiar to me, but because there is actually quite a lot of metaphorical resonance in the books. Often, this world, our world, feels to me like a longer, drawn-out Hunger Games; death fights to claim you, either through extreme weather or accident or illness or, like in the arena: murder.
* Zhanna Slor *
Disadvantages aside, I think watching a television show in its entirety can actually have some benefits, especially if you’re a writer of some kind. You learn how to easily spot plot-holes (uh, Battlestar Gallactica season four? The entire Heroes series?); you can learn about character-building (Walter White, Shane Vendrell, anyone created by Joss Whedon). You can also get a glimpse of what the current trends are (mystical creatures, criminal masterminds, and, as always, cops). You can also learn what to avoid, due to over-saturation (vampires!), or what to capitalize on (office dramas; quirky families).