Readers, upon first being introduced to Chekhov, often say: But nothing happens in the story, nothing real happens and it’s all terribly sad. We mean, of course, that nothing happens in our limited Western sense: that no one is murdered, that the plans for the nuclear submarine have not been stolen, that war has not been declared.
But one does not ask of a short story does something happen? One asks is it interesting? Chekhov is always interesting and one can’t do better.
From John Cheever, “The Melancholy of Distance” in James McConkey, ed., Chekhov and Our Age: Responses to Chekhov by American Writers and Scholars (1984).