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Celebrity Chekhov: Stories by Anton Chekhov Paperback – October 5, 2010

4.1 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


“A high-concept experiment in surreal comedy, that’s also an act of devotion regarding the persistent power of literature.” (L Magazine)

“Nothing short of brilliant. . . . you can plant it proudly on your bookshelf.” (Daily Candy)

“Ben Greenman’s Celebrity Chekhov might be the first literary mashup that actually adds to our understanding of the original work.” (The Very Short List)

From the Back Cover

Q: What do Tiger, Paris, Lindsay, Alec, and Oprah have in common with the enduring characters of Anton Chekhov?

A: Love, loss, pride, yearning, heartbreak, renewal, transcendence: the very stuff of life.

The immortal stories of Anton Chekhov have long entranced readers with their insights into the universal truths of human behavior . . . but you've never read them quite like this.
  • Former friends Nicole and Paris exchange prickly pleasantries in "Tall and Short."
  • Talk-show host Dave narrowly averts another potential domestic crisis in "A Transgression."
  • Reality star Kim shares her newfound notoriety with Khloe and Kourtney in "Joy."

In a witty, graceful, and revelatory feat of literary reinvention, acclaimed novelist and humorist Ben Greenman takes nineteen of Chekhov's greatest stories and recasts them with some of the best-known luminaries of our time—with eye-opening, and oddly ennobling, results.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 205 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; Original edition (October 5, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061990493
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061990496
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.5 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,417,451 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Ignore the above reviews, as all of them give overwhelming positive reviews on nearly every review they have placed on Amazon or are sharing a publishing house with the author. The truth of the matter is the whole book reads like madlibs. Replace the original names with celebrity names and small details. I bought this book at a Borders going out of business and quickly realized why it was one of the last remaining books in the store. Don't believe me? Let me give you some excerpts. "This is my husband, Joel, Joel Madden, though I did not take his last name. He's from Good Charlotte, the band, do you remember their albums?" -OR- "A talk show host named Dave Letterman pulled over at a rest stop on his way home...." -OR- "Maybe Martha Stewart will find a home for it. Maybe this baby will turn out to be a prominent educator or a musician or a statesman." -OR- "A ring at the bell. It is Justin Timberlake." I will stop there because I believe you get the picture . If you want to ignore me or find out for yourself, go to a brick and mortar bookstore and read the first 20 or 30 pages and make a decision. Usually I don't review things on Amazon, but, I can't stand the fact that the author of this book most likely made a killing on this book by name dropping celebrities. This is not Chekhov, to call it a re-imagining is crap.
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Format: Paperback
In a brilliant cornucopia of life's absurdities and the culture of celebrity, Greenman taps into the universalities of Chekhov's short stories, marrying the Russian's dramatic acuity to current-day actors and reality show personalities. As Chekhov culled insight from every level of Russian society, these angst-riddled folk are equally democratic, "flawed specimens of humanity ruled by ego and insecurity" caught in unscripted moments of tortured self-absorption. From David Letterman's frantic efforts to hide a baby left on his patio ("A Transgression") to an awkward meeting between Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie in an airport ("Tall and Short"), these sly stories reveal the burdens of fame and the banality of ordinary life, like Sarah Palin's emergence on a national political stage, family interactions unedited for media consumption ("The Album").

Eminem demands absolute quiet while wracking his brain for inspiration, leaving his study door open lest anyone forget a genius is at work ("Hush"); conversely, Alec Baldwin arrives at his family's summer digs only to be shuttled from one room to another, temper waxing and waning with the source of provocation ("Not Wanted"). As Chekhov mines the layers of Russian society, Greenman finishes with a flourish, a mildly poignant "Trilogy" wherein Jack Nicholson ("Gooseberries") admits, "I wish I was young! I wish I was young!" and Jamie Foxx reminisces about a secret love for his friend Jay-Z's wife, Beyonce ("About Love").The sad Fate of Lindsay Lohan is bemoaned in "A Classical Student", Lohan's mother, Dina, flayed for the exploitation of her troubled daughter as a commodity.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This was a good book to get me reading Chekhov, as if for the first time, as an adult (see Richard Ford's introduction to "Essential Tales of Chekhov : Edited By Richard Ford"). The stories are what stay with you: I found I as easily forgot the Celebrity names as I did the Russian ones; then, after reading stories that are not in this book, trying to recall who were the celebrity characters in them. Greenman does a good job of making believable the self-reflection, and internal moral conflicts, of the modern celebrity characters, which perhaps makes the stories accessible to younger readers.

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Format: Paperback
Novelist, humorist, and New Yorker editor Greenman has concocted an odd literary hybrid: inject today's celebrities -- from Paris Hilton and David Letterman to Billy Ray Cyrus and Sarah Palin -- into the plots of Chekhov's short stories and see what they do for each other.

"Some years ago Justin Timberlake and I were riding towards evening in fall time in Louisiana to get some coffee...." Kim Kardashian exults to her siblings and parents that she has finally achieved lasting fame: the Internet is buzzing about her sex video with ex-boyfriend Ray J. "Before setting off for her audition, Lindsay Lohan kissed all the movie posters...." "One fine evening, Conan O'Brien was sitting in the second row at the Staples Center, watching the Lakers run away from the Sacramento Kings...." Jack Nicholson and Adam Sandler go hunting in the Northern California woods and trade stories about the sorry lives of other famous people.

As a critic, I like most of the books I'm given to review, and I sometimes long for a really bad one to thrash. This one is not at all bad; I'm just not convinced it's ... um ... worth it.

The best stories take time to unfold: "Terror," in which Michael Douglas confides to a nameless narrator his fear of death and unrequited love for his wife, while a dissipated Gary Busey keeps interrupting to wheedle a job out of them; or "The Darling," in which Nicole Kidman is the quiet frontier widow of obsessed theater impresario Tom Cruise, then lumberman Keith Urban, and is barely sustained by the platonic friendship of Brad Pitt, whose son she agrees to care for.
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