“Vincent’s Party”
by Tessa Hadley
from the July 1, 2024 issue of The New Yorker

When it comes to New Yorker fiction, not much excites me more than seeing we have a new one by Tessa Hadley. I’m a bit wary, though, since this is the opening of her forthcoming novella — her debut novella — The Party. I’d rather read the whole novella at once, of course, but it doesn’t come out until November, and then only in the UK. For the US, it appears it will not appear until next spring. So, given how much time will pass before we can read the whole thing, I’m more interested in sitting down and feeling this out as an excerpt. Plus, I’m on holiday this week. I’ve been looking forward to sitting down during a lazy afternoon with whatever showed up in The New Yorker. So I’m in. How about you?

Anyway, here is how this story begins:

The party was in full swing. Evelyn could hear the sexy blare of the trad jazz almost as soon as she got off the bus at St. Mary Redcliffe and began walking over to the Steam Packet, the pub that Vincent—who was a friend of Evelyn’s older sister, Moira—had commandeered for the evening. He’d decided that they all needed a party to cheer them up, because the winter had been so bitter, and because now, in February, the incessant rain had turned the snow to slush. It was raining again this evening; the bus’s wiper had beat its numb rhythm all the way into town, the pavements were dark, and the gutters ran with water. Frozen filthy formless lumps, the remainders of the snow, persisted at the street corners and in the deep recesses between buildings, loomed sinisterly in the gaping bomb sites. Crossing the road, Evelyn had to put up her umbrella—actually, her mother’s worn old green umbrella with the broken rib and the duck’s-head handle, which she’d borrowed without asking on her way out, because she’d lost her own somewhere. Probably she’d get in trouble for this tomorrow, but she didn’t care; she was too full of agitated happiness. Anything could happen between now and tomorrow.

I hope you’re all about to start a wonderful week, and I hope to hear your thoughts on this story. Or, if you decide not to read it since it’s an excerpt, I’d love to hear about that as well.

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