Bryna Kranzler returns to her writing career with book on her granddad

Bryna Kranzler
Bryna Kranzler

Bryna Kranzler is a graduate of Barnard College where she studied playwriting, and received the Helen Price Memorial Prize for Dramatic Composition. Her first play was a finalist for the Eugene O'Neill Memorial Theater Competition, and was scheduled for production twice: The first time, the theater owner died and the season was shut down. The second time, the director committed suicide.

For the benefit of the arts community, she got out of playwriting and pursued an MBA at Yale University. She spent 15 years in marketing for health-care, high-tech and consumer products companies before returning to creative writing. Her most recent work is a book about her grandfather, “The Accidental Anarchist,” and she is doing book signings around town to promote it.

What brought you to La Jolla?

We moved out here in 1989 when my husband was recruited to run a biotech company.

What makes this area special to you?

The view of the ocean. It used to drive my kids crazy when we drove down La Jolla Parkway on the way home from school, and I'd point to the view in the distance and say, "Don't ever take that for granted."

If you could snap your fingers and have it done, what might you add, subtract or improve in the area?

Ever since "The Throat" was cleared, I don't have much to complain about. (Unless ... given how much we pay in property taxes, maybe that should guarantee blue skies every day. I could live with the boredom of not having variety in weather.)

Who or what inspires you?

My two boys. Each is completely different from the other, but they are both creative, driven and very thoughtful in their own ways. My older son, Mike, is extremely supportive of my work, and has taken it upon himself to be my PR agent, website and marketing material designer, and all-around booster; that's in his spare time. During his day job, he comes up with creative ideas for his firm to use in social media, PR and marketing. My younger son, Jesse, is a musician, composer, producer, orchestrator, tour coordinator, and business manager for several of his bands. He's also a full-time student in the Music Entrepreneurship program at NYU (where he doesn't miss classes) and is writing an Off-Broadway musical for his senior project. They motivate me to achieve things that will make them proud of me.

If you hosted a dinner party for seven, whom (living or deceased) would you invite?

Jon Stewart, because he's thoughtful, can discuss contemporary issues, and makes me laugh;

Oscar Wilde, for great cocktail party conversation;

Meryl Streep, because she could play at least 10 other dinner guests;

Keith Richards, just to shake things up;

My grandfather, since I never met him;

Isaac Bashevis Singer, since my grandfather spoke primarily Yiddish, he'd need someone to talk to;

and George Clooney, just because.

What are your five favorite movies of all time?

You're asking someone who sees three movies every weekend, but can't tell you on Monday morning what they were. But with enough time to think, I remembered: Annie Hall, The Stunt Man, Blood Simple, Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, and The 400 Blows.

What is your most-prized possession?

My laptop, even though it's been giving me trouble, because it's in possession of everything related to my book, as well as my ideas for future projects I hope to get to some day.

What do you do for fun?

I enjoy spending time with my friends; it doesn't matter what we do, if anything. I also love movies, theater and reading; walking around New York (you see more unusual people and activities within a 5-block radius than you could see in a much broader area and space of time anywhere else); and talking to and about my kids (but I guess you already figured that out).

Please describe your greatest accomplishment.

I recently published a historical biography, “The Accidental Anarchist,” which is about a man who was sentenced to death three times in the early 1900s in Russia — and lived to tell about it, He also happened to have been my grandfather.

The book is based on the diaries he began keeping in 1905 during the Russo-Japanese War, and vividly illustrates not only the war, but what it was like to live in the Russian-occupied territories at that time. Yet in spite of poverty, starvation and the horrors of war, my grandfather had the unique ability to find humor (albeit dark) in his circumstances as well as reason for optimism, which helped him survive.

It is probably no coincidence that, after 105 years and three generations after my grandfather began keeping his diary, I was the one to fulfill his dream of seeing it published as I was named for the young girl who saved him from his third death sentence.

What is your motto or philosophy of life?

Leave everyone you meet a little better off than they were before you knew them.



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