Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Celebrity Chekhov by Ben Greenman


  In the last year or so, several classic works of literature have been the subject of mashups with a science-fiction-like element -- Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, and Android Karenina, for example.  Celebrity Chekhov:  Stories by Anton Chekhov, by Ben Greenman, is also a mashup, but of a different sort.  Greenman takes eighteen of  Chekhov's short stories and inserts celebrities (ranging from Paris Hilton to David Letterman to Eminem) into them.
  I have to admit that I had not read any of Chekhov's short stories (yes I am ashamed), so I read these adaptations with an open mind.  Some of the stories were quite entertaining:
  • "A Transgression" - David Letterman finds an abandoned infant on his doorstep and must admit his infidelity to his wife
  • "Joy" - Kim Kardashian is overjoyed at being named online and as a result being now known throughout the world
Other stories, such as The Darling (featuring Nicole Kidman, Tom Cruise, Keith Urban, and - Brad Pitt?), did not make a lot of sense to me.

  Afterwards, I read a few of the Chekhov stories upon which these selections were based and was quite impressed with how Greenman was able to successfully weave the celebrities into the narrative (especially in "A Trangression", mentioned above).  As a result, I am determined to read more of Chekhov's work; which I assume was the overall intent of this collection to begin with. 

(received for review from the publisher, Harper Collins, via NetGalley)


  1. I've not read Chekhov either, so am glad to be in your company! :) Will check this book out!

  2. I am curious as to whether this particular mash-up was created in order to shed light on the superfluity of celebrity lifestyles and the media hype that perpetuates this situation, or was simply created for individuals that are fascinated with celebrity culture. Or perhaps a means to put the stories in a relatable perspective. I'm not a fan of the mash-up, but I'm glad you reviewed this.

  3. I really like Chekhov! You should read some of the originals :)

  4. Rebecca -- I did read a few of Chekhov's originals while reading this and I do want to read more of them.

    Beth -- I'm not sure why this mashup was created, though in some ways I think it highlighted the universality of Chekhov's stories.

    Coffee&Book Chick -- the few Chekhov stories I have read are pretty good, I hope you will give them a try.


What do you think? Good or bad, I'd love to hear from you (but be nice - I'm sensitive!)