Writers when they were young

I love these photos.


A trip to Melikhovo (Chekhov’s estate)

This weekend, we went to Melikhovo, which is Chekhov’s estate near the town of Chekhov (clearly, it was called something else before). I am posting about this in part because there is not a good place on the internet to get good directions to Melikhovo, and partially because I like it and I like Chekhov and this is a literary blog.

First, how to get there:

From Moscow, take the Metro (or another form of transport) to Kurskaya station (Курская). You need to go to the electrichka (electrical train) station going to the suburbs. This is in the basement of the Kurskiy railway station (Курский вокзал). You need to find the till for the trains going to Chekhov (Чехов), which is in the Kurskoe direction (Курское направление). You buy a ticket. It takes somewhere between 1:11 and 1:40ish to get there (depending on the train), and it cost us about 250 rubles (about GBP 5).

The schedule for the trains going to Chekhov from Kurskiy is here.

The schedule for the trains going from Chekhov back to Moscow is here.

When you get out at Chekhov, you need to get the number 25 bus or marshrutka (a small mini-bus). They take interchangeable routes, but probably the bus is easier to buy a ticket on if you don’t speak any Russian. If you take the marshrutka, you can just climb in if there are seat. You’ll need to tell the driver where you are going (Melikhovo or Ме́лихово), and then pay the driver. Our tickets were I think 49 rubles, or about GBP 1. That’s it. Then you basically just reverse this to get back to Moscow.

It is a little confusing, particularly at the train station, but if you know what direction you are going and that you need to buy tickets in the basement, that should hopefully help you.

Second, here are my pictures. I took pictures at basically every station on the line to Chekhov, which I think shows an interesting picture of Moscow/the suburbs of Moscow.

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That’s the Kurskaya Metro station (next to the railway station).

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The platform at Kurskiy Vokzal.

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Inside the train (these are all the minute details you might want, I guess.)

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Leaving the station.

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The first stop we passed – Tekstilshchiki.

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Some picturesque vistas from the train.

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Pererva station.

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A bridge (clearly).

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Tsaritsyno station (a very busy one).

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Krasnyy Stroitel’ station (Red Builder)

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Butovo station (which had what looked like a good fruit and veg market on the bridge).

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Random graffiti/track-side buildings

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Lvovskaya station

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Stolbovaya station.

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Old trains at Chekhov station

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Arriving into Chekhov station

[Sadly, I don’t have photos of the marshrutka.]

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A green lake next to Chekhov’s house (we sat near here to eat a snack before going in).

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Entrance to the museum

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Mushrooms in the windowsill of the medical centre that Chekhov built on his estate. I just like the way they look.

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Me and Anton

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Chekhov’s kitchen building (it is separate from his house)

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A picture I took, in violation of the rules, in the kitchen. It was really cozy.

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Chekhov’s house – there was a room for him, his parents (separate rooms), his sister, and a couple of living and dining rooms.

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When Chekhov started getting too many visitors, he built this little cottage to write in. He wrote The Seagull there.

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This tree knew Chekhov. The sign says it is being treated by a tree doctor and not to bother it. It’s 120 years old.

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This is the sort of place where locks are still sealed with actual wax.

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Me reading at the bus stop, waiting for the marshrutka back.

Review: Lost and (by Jeff Griffen)

I got this book free through NetGalley, and I read it quickly on the train yesterday. Griffen is a poet and has arranged a collection of photographs, letters, poems and other texts (to use the word as broadly as possible) that he found in the desert in the US. It is an intriguing collection, and some of the finds are incredible – I don’t know how long he took to compile this extraordinary set of texts.

I enjoyed the book, but I don’t think that it will stay with me very long. I have enjoyed other similar endeavours, such as Found Magazine and others.The thing that differentiates Lost and from those other “found item” collections is that this one is less interested, perhaps, in irony – although there is some humour to the collection – and more interested in loneliness, desolation and humanity. I enjoyed this, and I found it to be more earnest than a lot of what you can do with found items, but I still felt that it was not an entirely new concept.

Thus, whilst this is a more curated book than that magazine and other similar endeavours, I am not sure that it will stick with me. I would have liked to hear more of Griffen’s voice – but he clearly has a good eye for the deeply human, so I will keep following what he puts out.

More info on the book is here.

Things I’m adding to my to-read list

I love adding things to my Goodreads list, even when I know that, even now, I will probably never read everything on that list. I also love writing reviews of things I have read. I love reading, and I love talking about reading. (My husband calls me a book proselytizer.) So here’s what I’m adding today. Would love to hear from others on their recent adds.


1) Mia Couto.

Based at least partially on this quote:

The old man approached slowly as was his custom. He had shepherded his sadness before him ever since his youngest sons had left the road to no return.

2) The DFW book on rap

(if it’s not already on my list, along with everything else he wrote)


3) Ciarán Carson

after this Teju Cole Twitter question (I love hearing what other people are obsessed with)


4) Eduardo Galeano’s Children of the Days



5) Howard Norman’s I Hate To Leave This Beautiful Place

(Also NYT)


6) I wish I could add Daniel Schoonebeek


7) Joanna Hershon’s Dual Inheritance

(The Millions)


Stuff I’m not yet putting on my list: the Booker Prize nominees. I have only read the Ruth Ozeki book (which I loved), and started but didn’t get into Transatlantic. Have you read them?

Women writers

I read this post about 6 influential but unknown women writers and, sadly, didn’t know any. What about you?


I loaded up my Goodreads to-read list. Here’s one of my favourites from that exercise, called The Mehlis Report, as reviewed on NYRB.

What I’m reading about Trayvon Martin

I have spent the afternoon/evening catching up on this, and have been reading these posts. What are you guys reading about this? I feel like I can’t read enough. It is interesting timing, after I read Americanah on holiday, which is also amazing, and I will need to post about later this week.

This from The Atlantic by Ta-Nehisi Coates

This blog titled bell hooks was right

Questlove‘s piece