After Chekhov


New Yorker editor Ben Greenman talks about his new book, Celebrity Chekhov:

After a number of books of serious (though sometimes funny) fiction, I had an idea to do an entire book of the stories of Anton Chekhov, with the original characters ripped rudely out and replaced by contemporary celebrities. There are many reasons for this (having to do with the way we process celebrity, the way we process literature, the way we build a fence between “serious” and “trivial” without really thinking through the reasons for protecting that border), but I won’t get into them here.

All I’ll say is that I love Chekhov’s stories, and as I read through them, I was struck again by how perfectly he captures crucial moments in human interaction. I started out thinking he was a kind of photographer the scenes are so perfectly etched and ended up thinking he was a kind of pop songwriter. He zeroes in on moments, and while his stories go by quickly, they stay in your mind forever.

(Image from artist Jacqueline Rush Lee's “imprescos”)