[when he speaks] flies die of boredom.
The thing about Chekhov is that the insight or turn of phrase always catches one off guard. I was reading A Boring Story and it paces along nicely – not so much in classic prose style… but excellent pacing. The details of place names or character references aren’t so important to the story, but it’s the succinct capturing of human nature. It’s timeless. It’s easy to map the traits of his characters to people you’ve met.
The Hunstman is another good one. Checkhov frames out the characters and sketches just enough of their relationship to let the reader complete the story. Maybe that’s a quality of good fiction – it’s not so much of a complete, high fidelity account of every detail, but just enough to let the reader close the loop. It’s the blank space, what isn’t written that captures the reader’s imagination.
I’ve been reading Checkhov’s short stories in between pop science business books and nonfiction. It’s been nice to return to a well written short story.