I Know Why Russians Drink So Much

I just finished reading two plays by the Russian writer Anton Chekhov.

In the first one, the main character shoots himself in the head in the last line of the play.

In the second one, the main character shoots himself in the head in the last line of the play.

I thought maybe I’d read the same play twice.

But I hadn’t.  I checked the titles.  They were different.

I can’t help thinking of the conversations Anton Chekhov used to have with his editor.

“I have a new play,” Chekhov says.

“What about?”  asks his editor.

“A wealthy landowner.”

“What happens?”

“He shoots himself in the head.”

“I see.  Got anything else?”

“I’ve got one about a nobleman.”

“Tell me about it.”

“He shoots himself in the head.”

“Do you have anything else?”

“Yah.  I have one about a rich widow.”

“What happens?”

“She lives happily ever after.”


“Really.  Then she shoots herself in the head.”

Despite all this, Anton Chekhov is now known as the greatest Russian playwright who ever lived.

Which is too bad.

Because I have to imagine he influenced every Russian playwright to follow, some of whom may not have wanted to shoot their main character in the head, but felt compelled.

If I ever meet a Russian, I’m going to let him know that not all entertainment needs to end that way.

And I’m giving away my book of Anton Chekhov plays despite the fact that I have not read the last play in the book.

Because there is need.

It’s called, “Uncle Vanya.”  And I have a strong feeling he’s now deceased.  And that the word “Boom” is somewhere in there.

All this made me look up Anton Chekhov to see how he, the playwright whose every character dramatically shot themselves in the head, ended his own life. Care to guess?