Good lines: Tessa Hadley

“I wanted everything I learned to be an opening into the unknown, whereas Gerry’s knowledge added up to a closed circle, bringing him safely back to where he began, confirming him.”

Tessa Hadley’s “Valentine,” in this week’s New Yorker.

I’m not always a fan of contemporary short fiction, in part because it often feels so emotionally desiccated, as though the characters have been drained of all feeling by the anhedonic wastelands of their lives. But I’ve been quite taken with several of Hadley’s New Yorker pieces, perhaps because the characters have been teenagers caught up in the maelstrom of feeling that those years can bring. In an interview with the magazine online, Hadley says of the story’s teenage main character, Stella, “We expose ourselves, at that age, with a rawness that we rarely experience again afterward. Adolescents take such risks. They allow themselves to feel the full power of others… .”


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