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Checking in on Chekhov

Many years ago I heard Eudora Welty read in New York, and afterward she took questions from the audience. One woman asked, "Who's your favorite author?" Welty dodged the question as best she could, but finally named two she thought a lot of: William Maxwell (who had introduced her that evening) and Chekhov.

This morning The Millions offers "I Heart Chekhov," a fine essay by Sonya Chung:

For aspiring writers, there will always be matters of craft and style; but how many of us, writers and teachers alike, imagine focusing our development as writers on personal character?   And what, at any rate, would that look like?

Well… it would look like Chekhov.

If I ever As soon as I finish Vanity Fair, I hope to start and work my way slowly through Chekhov's Stories and Complete Short Novels, in the translations by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky. I've read a bit of Chekhov's work before, in a class at The New School, but not in these newer versions. Sonya Chung's piece gives me even more reasons to do just that.


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I feel like, since I'm writing a book this year (even though I've got two other authors doing it with me), I won't be reading novels ALL YEAR. Yeah. My schedule's like that. But know what? When this book is done, I'm so going to read Chekhov. I love his plays, but I realize I've never read his short stories.

Jules, I think you'd really like the stories. I've seen a couple of the plays, and you know what? This is weird, but they have a Southern quality about them to me. Did you ever see the movie of Uncle Vanya? I'd like to rent that one again.

Tonight my friend read me a short story. Out loud! What a gift. Wasn't Chekhov, though. It was Saki. Does it count if the author's name has a "k" in it?

Yes, anything with a K is good. :) That's a very nice gift.

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