Ben Greenman’s Celebrity Chekhov might be the first literary mashup that actually adds to our understanding of the original work.
Greenman, who edits The New Yorker’s Goings on About Town section—and is the author of six previous works of fiction—leaves the narratives of Chekhov’s short stories more or less intact, but subs in characters you’ll recognize from this week’s headlines: David Letterman (who finds an anonymous baby on his doorstep), Lindsay Lohan (who finds herself in a compromising situation involving Jesse James), Marshall Mathers (a.k.a.
Eminem, who’s suffering from writer’s block and the distractions of his home
life) and not a few others. Chekhov, who died of tuberculosis in 1904, thought of his stories as satirical, slightly sad commentaries on the world he knew. Greenman’s appropriations bring those commentaries up to date, and add something to our understanding of our own, celebrity-obsessed culture. The effect is liberating, hypnotic and surprisingly moving.
This post is from Observer Short List—an email of three favorite things from people you want to know. Sign up to receive OSL here.