New Literary Mash-Up Genre: Tabloid Fiction

By Maryann Yin Comment

Russian short story writer Anton Chekhov has joined British novelist Jane Austen on the mash-up victims’ list. New Yorker editor Ben Greenman has published Celebrity Chekhov, taking Chekhov’s writings and adding celebrities. Not to give away too much, but actress Lindsay Lohan receives a flogging on the command of her reality star mother, Dina Lohan.

The Daily News explained how Greenman conceived this idea for “Tab Lit:” “Greenman determined that the best way to update Chekhov’s dramas of love, loss and pride was via our national obsession with fame. ‘Aren’t celebrities fictional characters anyway?’ he asks. Besides, he points out, celebrities face ‘similar pressures’ to Chekhov’s characters: Many of the stories deal with the divide between public and private.”

Earlier this year, Greenman released What He’s Poised To Do, a collection of fourteen short stories about love and letter-writing. Chekhov was renowned for his short stories and plays, especially his four major plays: The Seagull, Uncle Vanya, Three Sisters, and The Cherry Orchard. He also practiced medicine and maintained a busy career as a physician. According to the publication Letters of Anton Chekhov he once said, “Medicine is my lawful wife and literature is my mistress.”

The publisher Quirk Books gained quick success with its line of literary mash-up titles. The first came from the release of Seth Grahame-Smith’s Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Soon the sequel Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters followed. Moving away from Austen meant a poke at the expense of Russian author, Leo Tolstoy with the release of Android Karenina. They followed up with Night of the Living Trekkies, which is described as “Galaxy Quest meets Dawn of the Dead when all hell breaks loose at a Star Trek convention.”