“Chekhov Shorts”: Small Fry

Title: Small Fry
Date Read: 19 December 2008
Word Count: 1308
Briefly: Watching the dignified citizens heading out for the Easter celebrations, lowly petty clerk Nevyrazimov bemoans his lot to his friend Paramon who is also on duty. As Nevyrazimov’s words of woe continue his depression deepens, as thoughts of promotion seem wholly improbable.
Afterthoughts: I quite enjoyed this tale although it never really added anything out of the ordinary from Chekhov. Nice flow, nice ending but not the best Chekhov story I’ve read to date.
Notable Quote: “”What a lot of people!” sighed Nevyrazimov, looking down into the street, where shadows of men flitted one after another by the illumination lamps. “They’re all hurrying to the midnight service. . . . Our fellows have had a drink by now, you may be sure, and are strolling about the town. What a lot of laughter, what a lot of talk! I’m the only unlucky one, to have to sit here on such a day: And I have to do it every year!”

Rating: ★★★☆☆

*Story read as part of my Checking Off The Chekhov Shorts reading challenge.

About Rob

Rob, a self-confessed bibliophile, is without any hope of rehabilitation. He gets unnaturally excited over anything book-shaped, and if book sniffing were a crime then he would have been locked up years ago (which wouldn't bother him in the slightest provided his cell was lined with books).


  1. I read my 25 Chekhov stories in a volume translated by Pevear and Volokhonsky. It was chronologically arranged and this was the very first story in the volume! So I agree it was a bit abnormal compared to the normal “Chekhov” feel and I guess I would say to keep in mind that because he wrote it before many of the others, he was still searching for his voice.

    I enjoyed reading his stories chronologically, but I did feel he got better, much better. I even skipped some beginning stories and came back to them after reading the later ones.

  2. Rob (Twitter: robaroundbooks)

    Rebecca – thank you for your comments. Very enlightening! I think that’s a great idea, temporarily skipping Chekhov’s earlier stories and going first to the ones where he has most definitely established his ‘voice’. That said I also like the idea of reading from the beginning and watching his style unfold.

    Unfortunately for the resource I’m using to read the majority of Chekhov’s stories, the stories are listed in the order they were published, so they’re most certainly mixed up chronologically in terms of creation (there is a quote from the original translator Constance Garnett stating ‘”it is impossible to obtain the necessary information for a chronological list of all Tchehov’s works.”), making a real study of the evolution of Chekhov’s style pretty difficult.

    I guess I’ll just keep going the way I’m going for now and once done, if I haven’t gained a better idea of how his style evolved, I can always go back, identify the stories that can irrefutably dated and see how that pans out. The main thing is, whatever I do, it’s going to fun :o)