This month, Kseniya Melnik, a Granta New Voice in 2010, and whose debut collection of linked stories, Snow in May, was published earlier this year, shares five links to what she’s reading, watching and thinking about right now.
1. I just finished watching the first season of the French series Les Revenants (The Returned), in which several dead people suddenly return in a very unzombie-like and unghost-like fashion to their small mountain town. The series is a master lesson in suspense, and the tone is like nothing I’ve seen before. Creepy, mesmerizing, brilliant.
2. Out of the many podcasts I enjoy, I’d like to mention three that are writing-oriented: Brad Listi of OTHERPPL has great conversations with debut and veteran authors alike; Mike Ingram and Tom McAllister of Book Fight! talk, joke and sometimes fight about contemporary and classic literature; John August and Craig Mazin of Scriptnotes discuss screenwriting in ways that are useful for any storyteller. These podcasts are like hanging out with your smartest writer friends at a bar but without the hangover the next day.
3. Going down into Carlsbad Caverns, where I take every person who comes to visit me at my current abode in El Paso, Texas, feels like descending into the past – which is true; the caves have looked like this for thousands of years – and also like entering the goblin lair straight out of The Hobbit.
4. I was blown away by the documentary series Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, hosted by the charismatic astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson. This show, a follow-up to Carl Sagan’s Cosmos from the 80s, is, broadly speaking, about the known universe. My rate of saying ‘wow’ was about once per three minutes. I especially loved the animations about the lives of scientists, and seeing a small blue dot on a canvas of black space glittering with stars really puts those problems with dialogue in the first draft in perspective.
5. After reading the weekly short story in the New Yorker, I like to turn to The Mookse and the Gripes blog for the intelligent review and a lively discussion in the comments.
Cover image by Elias Colber, Astronomy Without a Telescope, 1869