Douglas Arvidson is a past winner of the WICE/Paris Transcontinental International Short Story competition. His short fiction has been published in Paris, Prague, and in literary magazines in the United States and he was recently invited to be a staff writer for the Prague Revue, a cutting-edge, online literary journal ( The novels in his fantasy series, The Eye of the Eye of Stallion, include The Face in Amber, The Mirrors of Castaway Time, and A Drop of Wizard's Blood. His new novel, Brothers of the Fire Star, was selected as a finalist in the ForeWord Reviews 2012 Book of the Year national awards and as a finalist in three categories in the 2013 New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards: Action Adventure Fiction, Historical Fiction, and Young Adult Fiction. It has become part of the pantheon of Pacific literature and is now included in school literature programs. Brothers of the Fire Star is an adventure story set in the Pacific during World War II and concerns two boys of different races and cultures who escape the island of Guam in a small sailboat when the Japanese army invades. They must then struggle to survive as they master the secrets of the ancient Pacific navigators. Appropriate for young adults as well as adult readers, Brothers of the Fire Star is available on Barnes & Noble, ( and Visit the author's website:

Friday, April 1, 2011

What Happened to All the Great Russian Writers? What Have I Been Missing?

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.  Anto Chekov (1860-1904)

Ah, Dr. Chekov (he was a medical doctor), I'm sure you were well worn out by your patients, your writing, your tuberculosis. Tuberculosis? Yeah, it was the AIDS of his times, killing untold millions, and he contracted it early and died young. More about that later.

First though, now that I'm 64, I feel mature enough to deal with great writers and I'm finding Chekov to be accessible and--how to I say this?--Charming? No, but there is a fine touch of innocence to his writing. I doubt if The New Yorker would pay him for his art these days, modern readers having been steeped in such great vats of violence, deceit, and cynicism for so long, but his lessons are universal and were original for his day. According to my Google research, he was the first to pioneer what has become 'stream-of-consciousness' writing. He is famous for what has been called his lack of a dramatic instinct and his stories tend not to have the usual arc of rising to a dramatic climax and a denouement. Instead, he gives of poignant, slice-of-life portraits of Russian life in the 1880's and from these portraits emerge those universal truths written in a simple, straightforward prose. What is most fascinating is the view of Russian life as it was lived--fully human and affecting.

Now, as for the tuberculosis, I was intrigued by the number of great artists that died of tuberculosis, even in the 20th Century after the introduction of antibiotics. When I Googled it, expecting a short list,  I was supplied with pages of names. Chekov, Kafka, Modigliani, Washington Irving, John Keats, Samuel Johnson, Stephen Crane--the list goes on and on. Even Gone with the Wind star Vivien Leigh died of it in the 1960s. Tuberculosis was the AIDS of the time. Interesting.

Anyway, here are some Anton Chekov quotes. I love quotes. They're small wisdoms boiled down from the big ones. Bumper stickers you can believe in.

Man is what he believes.

Only entropy comes easy. (Oh, so true. Things will fall apart all by themselves if neglected long enough. Anyone who has owned a sailboat knows this.)

To advise is not to compel.

It's a long time since I drank champagne.

The more refined one is, the more unhappy.

Advertising is the very essence of democracy.

If you are afraid of loneliness, do not marry.

Knowledge is of no value unless you put it into practice.

When an actor has money he doesn't send letters, he sends telegrams.

People don't notice whether it's winter or summer when they're happy.

I'm off to Guam. I hope real spring is here when I get back.

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