Skip to content Skip to main menu

An excerpt from'The Tenant'

When Marie saw the small house, nestled almost invisibly among weedy hills and sycamores, she thought, jackpot. She thought, heaven.

Hell, she thought, I could live and die here.

Of course, all she said to the McGregors was, ‘It’ll do.’

The McGregors owned the property and lived in the large house next door – though next door was a relative term; the main house was at least a hundred yards away. Through the trees all Marie could see of it was a patch of pale blue siding – which, in the right mood, she could easily pretend was part of the sky.

The right mood was not uncommon lately. It often involved gin. Marie was careful not to put the empties in the recycling bin. She didn’t wish to give the McGregors the wrong idea.

Luckily they hadn’t asked her to fill out one of those renter-information packets, or done a credit check. They’d been satisfied with her offer to pay the first six months in advance.

As soon as Marie signed the lease, she felt a weight lifted from her heart. Maybe this lightness had something to do with the land and the trees, which reminded her of the estate she’d grown up on, across the valley, in the Rincons.

Not that she’d been particularly happy there – but it was childhood and so, at a certain age, revered. And certainly it hadn’t been terrible. Her parents had been decent people – though they’d had their edges, their sorrows. Their moods had oppressed her as a child, but now she saw it as a good sign, a sign that perhaps they’d wanted more than what they’d had. When they died five years ago on the highway, it had been their first trip out of Tucson in twenty years. They were going to Apache County to see the ruins, but made it only as far as Pinetop. A sleep-deprived trucker carrying a load of frozen fruit had swerved and toppled.

‘Blueberries everywhere,’ one witness had said.

The caskets had been closed.

A little bit about Victor Lodato

Victor Lodato

Victor Lodato was born in New Jersey. His novel, Mathilda Savitch (2009), was hailed by The New York Times as “a Salingeresque wonder of a first novel” and was a “Best Book of the Year” in The Christian Science Monitor, Booklist, and The Globe and Mail. The novel won the PEN USA Award for Fiction and the Barnes & Noble Discover Prize, and has been published in sixteen countries, including the UK (Fourth Estate). Victor is a Guggenheim Fellow, as well as the recipient of fellowships from The National Endowment for the Arts, The Camargo Foundation (France), and The Bogliasco Foundation (Italy). His short fiction and essays have been published in The New Yorker, The New York Times, Granta, and Best American Short Stories. His new novel, Edgar and Lucy, will be published in March 2017. Victor currently divides his time between Tucson, Arizona and Ashland, Oregon.

See the full Shortlist