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For Week 20 of my Deal Me In 2014 short story project, I drew the Queen of Diamonds which corresponds to Anton Chekhov’s “The Bet”. My Deal Me In 2014 list can be seen here. DMI is sponsored by Jay at Bibliophilopolis.
I haven’t read much of Chekhov’s writing, but it seems like I’ve read more as I’ve confused Chekhov with Franz Kafka from time to time. But enough about me and on to the story.
It’s not an easy story to write about without giving away details that are better discovered by readers, themselves. The bet from which the story gets its title results from a nice little party conversation between a banker and a lawyer in which they debate whether death or prolonged isolation is worse.
I wouldn’t say that the story packs an emotional wallop (at least it didn’t for me) but it does have one of the better intellectual punches of any of the stories I’ve read recently. As to who won the bet? That question will keep the mind of any thinking reader occupied for at least a few days after finishing the story. I have my own theory, but I won’t prejudice anyone before they read it. And as to book lovers in general, there’s something for them to think about, also.