“Coda” by Tessa Hadley from the August 2, 2021 issue of The New Yorker
When The New Yorker announced they’d be publishing another Tessa Hadley story this week, I got all giddy. I love her stories and I can’t wait to jump into this one, hopefully as soon as tonight . . . though the way things have been it might be later this week.
At any rate, it’s always great to get another story by one of my all-time favorite short story writers. I haven’t even looked up what this one is about because I just intend to jump on in. But for those interested in seeing how it begins, here you go:
I went upstairs in my mother’s house, telling her I was going to the bathroom. There was a downstairs toilet, but it had a raised seat and a frame with armrests so that she could easily maneuver herself on and off after her hip replacement, and I was squeamish about it. I couldn’t help feeling irrationally that if I used it I’d be contaminated with something: with suffering, with old age. And anyway I didn’t really need to use the bathroom. I went into the one upstairs that was free of any apparatus, closed the door, and sat on the toilet-seat lid, then pressed the flush so that she could hear it. The truth was that every so often I just needed to be alone for a few minutes, not making any effort, or being filled up with anyone else’s idea of what I was.
Okay, maybe not the most exciting first paragraph ever, but I’m still interested to see where Hadley takes us as she continues to explore the lives of girls and women.
I hope that wherever you are you’re doing well. I look forward to any thoughts you care to share below.
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