A little more than six years ago, Maris Kreizman started a Tumblr in which she paired literary quotes with photos from television shows called Slaughterhouse 90210. Over the years, she combined Designing Women with Tolstoy, The Sopranos with Woolf, and, well, you get the picture. Unsurprisingly, the Tumblr took off, and Kreizman eventually got an offer to take it from blog to book.
I spoke with Kreizman on the phone this week (full disclosure: we met years ago through Tumblr) and discussed the origins of Slaughterhouse, how she keeps track of all those quotes, and what she would watch on Netflix with Jonathan Franzen.
How did Slaughterhouse 90210 get started?
For most of my 20s, I worked in publishing, and the only thing I wanted to be was a book editor. I didn’t really have many other aspirations. I was out of work for a couple months and ended up at a job—it wasn’t a career, it was a job—and I was feeling unhappy and kind of left out of the conversation, and my friend said, “Why don’t you start a Tumblr with literary quotes in it?” And I was like, “Well that sounds really boring!” And then I was scrolling through tumblr and saw a picture of Joan Holloway and thought, “Oh, if I put her on top of something and then made it about how those two interact, then that’s really something. That’s fun.”And so that’s how it started! It was a fluke. I certainly didn’t think I’d be talking about it six and a half years later.
How quickly did it take off? Pretty fast, right?
It was pretty fast, and I think that was for a couple of reasons. The mashup was a novelty then, and—not to toot my own horn—but I do think I was the first person to come up with that kind of meme for Tumblr. And I think it’s very satisfying to look at something, read it almost immediately and figure out the puzzle and how everything relates. And it was when I noticed that people were talking about it without my participation that I knew that it had really taken off.
Do you have a system for organizing all those quotes?
I do. I have a 300-page Google document. It’s very bulky and unwieldy, and I’m sure there’s a better method that I could use, but this is what I’ve been doing. I either copy and paste into it, or after I’ve read a book, I’ll un-bookmark all the pages I’ve set aside and type them into the document. They’re all just waiting for the control-F.
How was writing this book different from working on the blog?
It was a whole different thing because I needed to get permissions for images. I went from being able to talk about any particular scene from any particular show or movie that I wanted, to whatever was available from stock photo house A and B. I had to change quotes I was using to be more about a broader concept and less about a specific thing. So that’s why the book is broader. It goes beyond TV, and I talk about movies and pop stars and sports figures—because I needed that extra layer.
Is there a book you find yourself wishing had a TV adaptation but doesn’t? Have you ever read a book and thought, “Oh I wish someone would film that.”
Which Friends character do you think is most likely to write a memoir by their 60s?
Do you think Margaret Atwood would consider herself to be a Carrie, a Samantha, a Charlotte, or a Miranda? Or anyone else? Like Candice Bergen’s Vogue editor character.
Same question, but Cormac McCarthy.
Who would you cast as Elizabeth Bennett in a 2015 version of Pride and Prejudice.
Who do you think Carrie Mathison’s favorite author is?
So you used an Orlando quote over an image of RuPaul in your book. Do you think Virginia Woolf would have been fun to watch Drag Race with, or would it have been weird? I guess what I’m asking is would you have had her over to watch Drag Race?
What book would you love for Shonda Rhimes to adapt into a series?
What do you think Patricia Highsmith would have said about True Detective’s second season?
If you’d had the chance to have Maya Angelou over to your house to watch Netflix, what would you have put on?
Same question, but it’s Jonathan Franzen.
What TV network would the miniseries about your life be on, ideally?
Slaughterhouse 90210 is out now.
Contact the author at email@example.com.
Images via Tumblr / Screengrab / HBO / CW / TV Land / Logo / Grand Central Publishing / Europa Editions