“The Maths Tutor”
by Tessa Hadley
from the July 24, 2023 issue of The New Yorker
What a month for Tessa Hadley fans! Not only did we get her new story collection After the Funeral, but we get a new story in The New Yorker? And it’s a great one! As per usual, let’s let Hadley herself introduce the story:
In her thirties, Lorraine was unfaithful once or twice; she didn’t tell her husband. Quentin owed her, she reckoned, in that long accounting of pluses and minuses which is marriage. Owed her not only because he was unfaithful, too — although he certainly had been, she didn’t doubt it, and more than once or twice — but also because he was impossible. He was one of those impossible men, attractive but also sleazy, in a way that was more popular then, in the eighties and nineties, than it is now. He was long-limbed and superskinny, fizzing and jigging and restless with energy, his ugly sharp face alight with cleverness and mockery of everything. Nowadays he wouldn’t get away with it. Quent didn’t once, not ever, attend any of the parents’ evenings at their children’s schools, or cook a meal for the family, or use the vacuum cleaner. If he took the children out it was on some crazy, risky adventure, not to buy shoes. Usually, anyway, he was high on some illegal substance or another. When Lorraine thought of him, that was how she pictured him: deep in concentration, his long hair falling forward around his face dipped to the toke, his hand cupped around the lighter flame, his gracile long fingers stained with nicotine. Sometimes he fried up steaks with herbs and wine when they had friends round to eat, and everyone was amazed by his culinary skills; it was all so delicious. He paid a fortune once, at a time when they were so short of money, for a good suit lined in purple silk, sewn by a tailor who made suits for the Rolling Stones.
I have read this one already, and I think it’s so well done. I hope you’ll share your thoughts below!