In her very dusty provincial museum of fake exhibits lovingly crafted from cardboard, wire and glue, Tanya dreams of Russian art's long colours and wonders when Yuri will stop fishing long enough to notice how she adores him, while she tries the zero-one-zero diet in order to meet Aeroflot's maximum waist requirements for trainee cabin-crew. When her boss at the museum gives her the vast responsibility of cultivating some potential benefactors from America, and persuading them to give their money to the very needy All-Russian All-Cosmopolitan City Museum, Tanya finds herself involuntarily enlisting all her neighbours in the scheme.
But their shared hopes of riches and dreams of escape start to rot. And the rounded corpse of Mircha in the courtyard refuses to decompose, as the snow turns it into a hill, and its spirit takes flight around the apartments, dispensing more advice than anyone desires, goading the men, annoying the women, in a block where too many mothers and fathers are missing and too many memories lie stagnant on old battlefields.
Born in 1970, Gina Ochsner has worked as a dog-walker, a substitute teacher, and in a shop selling cheese and puppets, and now lives in western Oregon with her husband and four children. Her collection of stories People I Wanted to Be was published to wide acclaim in 2005.