Interview

Slaughterhouse 90210: How Kurt Vonnegut Met Brenda Walsh

Maris Kreizman's insanely popular Tumblr blog is now an equally cool book – and she tells us how it happened.

Slaughterhouse 90210

We’ve all experienced that sense of despair once our favorite television show goes off the air—or, even worse, when our favorite characters perish, sabotaged by their own bannermen.

Conversations around the water cooler are all well and good, but sometimes our dedication to our favorite characters needs to be articulated through the words of a writer, a professional, to capture the essential idea or emotion behind what makes pop culture so, well, popular.

Enter Maris Kreizman. In 2009, she decided she needed a place online to channel her love for pop-culture and books, and most importantly, where they intersect. So she started a Tumblr blog called Slaughterhouse 90210. In just a few months, the site exploded with shares and likes, uniting those who had slaved away in dead-end publishing jobs with those who love reality television. (For the record, there is a lot of overlap in those two groups.)

Maris became a media darling. People tuned in after a particularly traumatic episode of Game of Thrones to see what literary quotation Maris had chosen for the occasion. And now Slaughterhouse 90210, the little Tumblr that could, has become a real live book. The kind you can hold in your hands. Or, you know, download on your e-reader.

Maris, the patron saint of book loving, pop-culture obsessed nerds everywhere, now works at Kickstarter as the company’s publishing outreach lead. You read that right: If you have an idea for a book or a literary magazine, Maris can help you crowd-fund your idea through Kickstarter. “I love working with literary magazines and small presses both to help them to find a larger audience and to motivate the people who already love them to do something cool,” she told FYNTR. “I’ve worked in publishing my whole life, and Kickstarter is the first place I’ve worked where I’ve felt like there’s a pervasive sense of optimism in the company culture.”

And everyone lived happily ever after. OK, Walter White, maybe not so much.


What was the inspiration for Slaughterhouse 90210?

At the time I was working in publishing, and we were not encouraged to have a voice of our own on social media. A friend of mine said, Tumblr is cool, you should start a blog about your favorite literary quotes. I saw a photo of Christina Hendricks from Mad Men, and I thought, “This is something people want to see!”

How long did it take to come up with the name?

Like an hour. I didn’t realize at the time that it was going to take off . . . and that it would be how I was going to be known. If I had realized that, I would’ve given it more thought! It’s a mouthful.

When did you realize the site had taken off?

The first thing that happened was that same friend sent the Tumblr to his friend at Buzzfeed. This was in 2009, and it was featured in a newsletter, and that was the first time I felt like, “Oh wow, people who aren’t my friends are reading this.” Carolyn Kellogg was the first person, from the L.A. Times, who said this is relevant to all of us. It was great.

What comes first, the quotation or the image?

I have a very long document—350 pages—and it’s made up of all the quotations that I know I will want to use someday. I’ll also watch something and have a reaction and then go search for a quote. For instance, when Breaking Bad was on, I wanted to use a Walt Whitman quote because it played such a large part in the unraveling of Walter White.

Which post broke the most hearts?

Oh, man. Definitely the Red Wedding episode from Game of Thrones. I really loved the image of Peggy walking down the hallway at the end of Mad Men with the Sylvia Plath quote. This one, from Breaking Bad, was a heart-breaker.

***

A Round of Pop-Culture Word Association with Maris

We gave her a name, and she said the first thing that came to mind.

Gilmore Girls: Norman Mailer

Norman Mailer Gilmore Girls

Photo: Norman Mailer on Gilmore Girls. Courtesy of Warner Brothers

The X-Files: My dog dressed as an alien; my boyfriend and I are contemplating this as a Halloween couples costume—Mulder, Scully, and a pug alien.

Game of Thrones: Internet trolls

Pugs: All that is good and holy in the world, or snugs

Eat, Pray, Love: Arrested Development Season 4

Lindsay reads Eat Pray Love

Photo: Lindsay reads Eat Pray Love. Courtesy of 20th Century Fox Television

Sylvia Plath: Gwyneth Paltrow

LeBron James: Penn Basketball

Mad Men: Captions (I read somewhere that that show is the easiest to caption)

Magic Mike XXL: Pony Pt. 2

Keeping Up With The Kardashians: Kim crying

Carrie Bradshaw: Tutu

Podcast: working from home

Ronda Rousey: Linda Hamilton

Joan Didion: Totebag

Joan Didion totebag

Photo: Courtesy of Electric Lit.

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