Posted in Short Stories

Walter Tevis: Rent Control


Deal Me In 2020 – Week 9

For Week 9 of my Deal Me In 2020 short story project, the Deal Me In fates gave me a second author in a row who has had his writing turned into highly acclaimed films. Two of Walter Tevis’s novels were adapted into films starring Paul Newman: The Hustler and The Color of Money.

Tevis’s short story “Rent Control” is included in Home and Beyond: An Anthology of Kentucky Short Stories edited by Morris Allen Grubbs. Check out my Deal Me In 2020 list here. Deal Me In is hosted by Jay at Bibliophilopolis.

The premise of “Rent Control” is a simple one even if it’s a little odd. Terry and Edith figure out that they can stop time whenever they touch each other while they are in Edith’s loft bed. When they stop touching, time starts up again. At least it works this way for them. Who knows what is going on with the rest of the world? So they gradually begin seeing how much time or how much stopped time they can spend in bed. It becomes humorous the lengths they go to but it seems to work for them:

Deep in themselves they had become a Pharaoh’s dream of endless time; they had found the pyramid that kept the flow of the world away.

As one might think, things don’t stay “dreamy”. Controlling time this way isn’t everything that it’s cracked up to be. The story is funny and maybe thought-provoking but this premise is pretty much it. In a word – entertaining.

Are you familiar with Walter Tevis? Have you read any of his short stories or novels?


6 thoughts on “Walter Tevis: Rent Control

  1. I haven’t read this story before, and I’d forgotten that Tevis wrote the books “those pool movies” were based upon. Here’s (maybe) a little know fact about him: He wrote a novel about chess called “The Queen’s Gambit” about a young girl who was a chess prodigy but also had mental health/addiction issues if I remember correctly. I remember years ago that the magazine of the US Chess Federation was gushing about it over and over… 🙂

    1. When I was looking up Tevis online, I came across The Queen’s Gambit. It sounds very interesting. While Rent Control probably isn’t a favorite, his novels sound like they could be worth reading. I’ve never seen either of the “pool movies” I mentioned. Just heard a lot about them.

  2. I’ve read other short stories by Tevis (I have an anthology around here somewhere), but this is the one I always remember. I have read one of his novels too, after seeing the movie adaptation of it: The Man Who Fell to Earth. I had no idea he wrote non-genre fiction!

    1. I didn’t realize he wrote science fiction! Of course, I wouldn’t have been able to tell you that he wrote The Hustler and The Color of Money, either, until after I read the introduction to this story. He sounds like he’s worth looking in to.

  3. As Katherine has pointed out, Tevis is known mostly as a Sci-fi writer and his name has come up many times before in my research of the genre but I have yet to read anything by him. He wrote a novel called “Mockingbird” that sounds amazing.

    The premise for this story has piqued my interest and maybe this would be a good introduction to the author. Not all stories have to be deeply thought-provoking and I am totally fine with just sitting back and enjoying a good entertaining story.

    Paul Newman is such an iconic actor and I am ashamed to admit that I have never seen the Hustler or The Color of Money! I should probably change that at some point.

    1. This is a fun story and very humorous as you might expect. And, yes, many stories are worth it just for the entertainment value.

      I have never seen either of the Paul Newman movies I mentioned, either.

      I would be curious to read more of Tevis’s work.

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