Publisher: Harper Perennial (October 5, 2010)
Reviewed by Stephen Page.
The first thing a reader may think when he picks up this book and begins reading it is “why?” I say “why not?” In Celebrity Chekov Ben Greenman updates a selection of Anton Chekhov’s short stories and replaces the characters in the stories with contemporary celebrities. Is this satirical? Yes. Funny? Hilarious. Greenman and Chekhov’s talents as writers can account for all this. Greenman doesn’t just update the stories and replace this character for that character—Greenman rewrites the stories, re-establishes them, revives them. Why not bring to the present great short stories from the past? People have been updating Shakespeare on stage and on film, quite successfully I might add, for decades, if not longer. And Shakespeare is supposed to be, quote, “timeless” and “immortal,” as is Chekhov. Yes, some great writing does wear longer than other writing, due to the ability of the author to create recognizable characters drawn from inherited human behavior, and some writing stays popular due to the writer’s ability to create empathic situations created by said characters, but I say nothing is immortal or timeless. Consider just how many years ago Shakespeare lived, or even how many ago Chekhov lived, and compare those numbers with how long ago modern Homo sapiens first appeared on earth, and compare that amount of time with how long the earth has been around, and compare that amount of time with how long the universe has been around, and compare that to. . . well, you get it. Right? Finally has anyone reading this taught high school or had a teenager in his or her home? How many of those teenagers love to see a Shakespearean play set in Shakespearean settings? Not many, and of course it depends on their socialization, and, well, furthermore . . . getting back to my main point, “why not?”
You can find the book here: http://www.amazon.com/Celebrity-Chekhov-Stories-Anton-P-S/dp/B005DI9VUE
Stephen Page is from Detroit, Michigan. There he worked in factories, gasoline stations, and steel-cutting shops. He always longed for a vocation associated with nature. He now lives in Argentina, teaches literature, ranches, and spends time with his family. http://stephenmpage.wordpress.com/