All day long Polina sat anxiously waiting in her neighbors’ apartment, with its cracked windowpanes and boiling sausages, filled wall to wall with beds, piles of clothing, and damp water buckets sweating into towels.
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 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.