Here is today’s 1600 word story, http://www.chekhovshorts.com/stories/008.html.
Tonight is the official opening ceremony of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. Foreigners across the globe have traveled to the Russian resort city to compete or watch the games. In this story we have an English woman married to a stout and opinionated landowner. I believe this is the first time we encounter a foreigner in a Chekhov’s story. I’m hoping the people of Sochi are nicer than Gryabov, the landowner. The couple hate each other and neither speaks the other’s language. We don’t know how they came together, only that they have been married for ten years and the husband will not divorce for the sake of the children. The irony (I cringe using this word and hope it is right) of the story is that they have been fishing together all day and will continue to do so into evening in spite of their mutual hate. While the story comes off as absurd and comical with all of the barbed insults, it is also feels like a very real slice of life. We’ve probably all seen couples sticking together even though there is no mutual respect.
I must confess that it did not occur to me until the second pass of this story that the fishing couple were married. The first time I read through this story, I kept wondering who the woman was and why she was fishing. Of course, knowing now that she is Gryabov’s wife really didn’t answer either question. Perhaps that is the point. I kept hoping that similar to the stories we have read to-date, we would receive a punch-line at the end that would alert the visiting Marshal (Otsov) that she indeed spoke Russian but chose not to let on to her husband. Alas, we are left to believe that the only thing the couple have in common is children and a love of fishing. But why fishing? What are they fishing for exactly that they would divert all energy toward this addiction? Common ground perhaps? Gryabov finds it in the stone floor of the river. I can’t help but wonder if a similar event 10 years earlier resulted in their having children.