Zanichkowsky, Stephen 1952-
ZANICHKOWSKY, Stephen 1952-
Born July 21, 1952, in New York, NY; son of Martin and Johanna Zanichkowsky; married Selby Frame. Ethnicity: "Caucasian." Education: Attended Lowell Technological Institute, 1970-71. Hobbies and other interests: Physics, sailing, chess, ice skating.
Home—105 Parrott St., South Portland, ME 04106. Agent—Lisa Banhoff, I.C.M. 40 West 57th St., New York, NY 10019.
Writer and furniture maker.
Fourteen: Growing up Alone in a Crowd, Basic Books (New York, NY), 2002.
Contributor of short fiction to periodicals, including New York Press and Standpoints.
WORK IN PROGRESS:
Researching the meaning of the Merrimack River in American history, along with the evolution of medical imaging machines.
Stephen Zanichkowsky, the author of the autobiographical Fourteen: Growing up Alone in a Crowd, takes his career as a writer not merely as a means to an end, but also as an opportunity to research and study his individual interests and share them with others.
In his memoir Fourteen Zanichkowsky discusses the difficulties of growing up in a family that included fourteen children and troubled parents. The book provides readers with a "dark, deeply unsettling look at family life," according to Pam Kingsbury in a review for Library Journal. Zanichkowsky and his siblings each struggle to deal with their emotional isolation; and while one would hope they could turn to each other for support, instead the children desperately seek every available opportunity to leave the family as soon as possible. While some of the Zanichkowsky children got married, in hopes of creating a new and better life, others turned to more negative escapes, which they found in shoplifting and lying. Years later, following the death of their parents, the fourteen children ultimately came together in their realization of the importance of family.
Called an "unsentimental and unflinchingly honest memoir" by David Pitt in a Booklist review, Fourteen was hailed as an "unusual memoir" that "generates an emotional intensity almost imperceptibly, until we feel utterly caught up in the chaos of Zanichkowsky's very big family." A reviewer for Publishers Weekly commented that the author "elevates this memoir from a tale of childhood hell into a full, rich picture of what it's like to be one among many." The Publishers Weekly reviewer also praised Zanichkowsky's prose as "so straightforward and candid that it takes on a kind of intimacy while describing alienation."
Zanichkowsky told CA: "Writing is not a career or profession, and my identity is not tied up in being 'a writer.' It's something I do, but I also make furniture and collect records. When I write, it's mostly to organize my thoughts on a subject and, by extension, introduce a subject—physics, architecture, etc.—to a reader. That is, if something catches my attention, such as X-rays or supernovas, I'll research it and write about it for myself. If I'm lucky, I'll write about it well and share the knowledge—not necessarily the writing—with others. Then they might become interested in the subject, and my original interest has caused an expansion of understanding to occur. It starts with curiosity, which is an end in itself, not a means to an end.
"I could name William Faulkner, and say that if I could write about Isaac Newton in the same way Faulkner wrote about Thomas Sutpen, I would be explaining 'creative genius' the way Faulkner explained 'the south.'"
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, May 1, 2002, David Pitt, review of Fourteen: Growing up Alone in a Crowd, p. 1492.
Kirkus Reviews, April 15, 2002, review of Fourteen, p. 555.
Library Journal, June 1, 2002, Pam Kingsbury, review of Fourteen, p. 166.
Publishers Weekly, May 6, 2002, review of Fourteen, p. 46.*