The Uncollected Short Stories by Walter Tevis

The list of short stories by Walter Tevis that is found on several websites comes from a list Tevis (or his family) drew up that is now in the Walter Tevis Collection at Indiana University. To show how I arrived at “The Uncollected Short Stories”, that list is reprinted here. My corrections are in italics at the far right. I have added a key at the far left to break the list into collected and uncollected stories:

Numbered = uncollected story

F = collected in FAR FROM HOME

1. “The Best in the Country” – Esquire, November 1954.

2. “The Big Hustle” – Collier’s, August 5, 1955.

3. “Misleading Lady” – The American Magazine, October 1955.

4. “Mother of the Artist” – Everywoman’s, 1955 (citation needed).    Not Found

5. “The Man From Chicago” – Bluebook, January 1956.        Actually 1955.

6. “The Stubbornest Man” – Saturday Evening Post, January 19, 1957.

7. “The Hustler” (original title: “The Actors”) – Playboy.          Jan 1957.

F. “Operation Gold Brick” (original title: “The Goldbrick”) – If, June 1957.

F. “The Ifth of Oofth” – Galaxy, April 1957.

F. “Big Bounce” – Galaxy, February 1958.

8. “Sucker’s Game” – Redbook, August 1958         Actually February 1958.

9. “First Love” – Redbook, August 1958.

F. “Far From Home” – The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, December 1958.

10. “Alien Love” (original title: “The Man From Budapest”) – Cosmopolitan, January 1959.          Actually April 1959.

11. “A Short Ride in the Dark” – Toronto Star Weekly Magazine, April 4, 1959.

12. “Gentle is the Gunman” – Saturday Evening Post, August 13, 1960.

F. “The Other End of the Line” - The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, November 1961.

13. “The Machine That Hustled Pool” – Nugget, February 1961. Title changed to “The Pool Hustlers”.

F. “The Scholar’s Disciple” – College English, October 1969.

14. “The King is Dead” – Playboy, September 1973.

F. ‘Rent Control” – Omni, October 1979.

F. “The Apotheosis of Myra” – Playboy, July 1980.

F. “Echo” - The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, October 1980.

F. “Out of Luck” – Omni, November 1980.

F. “Sitting in Limbo” – FAR FROM HOME, 1981.

F. “Daddy” - FAR FROM HOME, 1981.

F. “A Visit From Mother” - FAR FROM HOME, 1981.

There are 27 stories on this list of Walter Tevis’s short fiction. He collected 13 of them, all science fiction stories, in FAR FROM HOME. The other 14 stories are listed as having been published in magazines between 1954 and 1973. Having read all of his books, I wanted more. I set out to collect all 14 of the remaining stories. I have located 13 of them, listed below. The missing story that does not exist (as far as I can tell) is “Mother of the Artist”, Everywoman’s Magazine, 1955. Everywoman’s was just what the title suggests, a magazine designed for women readers. Each issue included one or two fiction stories. In 1958 it merged into Family Circle Magazine. I have now seen every single issue of Everywoman’s from that entire period (the Milwaukee Central Public Library holds a collection of them). I can now confirm there is no such story in that magazine during that time period. Why it is not there is a mystery. The people who might have known, Tevis and his first wife, are both deceased. Perhaps Tevis wrote it and sold it, and then the magazine chose not to use it. Perhaps it appears somewhere else, but this seems doubtful because that story does not turn up in any index such as the Reader’s Guide to Periodical Literature. I tried out a theory that perhaps it appeared under a pseudonym, but if so both the title and author had to have been changed. When I reviewed the Everywoman’s collection at Milwaukee, I read every story in every issue. None of them have anything to do with any artist’s mother. And none of them are written in the style of Walter Tevis. So, until it turns up somewhere somehow, it seems safe to leave “Mother of the Artist” off our list.

That leaves 13 stories. If we put them in correct order of publication, we have this new list:

The Uncollected Short Stories by Walter Tevis

1. “The Best in the Country”*

2. “The Man From Chicago”*

3. “The Big Hustle”*

4. “Misleading Lady”

5. “The Hustler”*

6.  “The Stubbornest Man”

7. “Sucker’s Game”*

8. “First Love”

9. “Alien Love”

10. “A Short Ride in the Dark”

11. “Gentle is the Gunman”

12. “The Pool Hustlers”*

13. “The King is Dead”

*Six of these 13 are about pool hustlers. Tevis sold his first story “The Best in the Country’ to Esquire in 1954. “The Man from Chicago” for Bluebook and “The Big Hustle” for Collier’s followed in 1955. All three of these stories have scenes or pool rooms or characters that will appear in THE HUSTLER.

And then Tevis wrote a story he called “The Actors” and sold it to Playboy Magazine. They retitled it “The Hustler”. The February 1958 issue of Redbook included a Walter Tevis story called “Sucker’s Game”.  It is the fifth of his “pool hustler” stories. The sixth hustler story. “The Machine That Hustled Pool” sold to Nugget Magazine in 1961. They called it “The Pool Hustlers”.

Six of the other stories that make up the uncollected 13, including miscellaneous fiction and romance, were sold to popular magazines of the day like Saturday Evening Post and Cosmopolitan.

Those 12 “first period” stories were published from 1954 to 1961. During the 17-year dry period between his second book in 1963 and his third one in 1980, Walter Tevis sold only two stories. “The Scholar’s Disciple” (1969), appeared in a teacher’s magazine and was collected in FAR FROM HOME. But the other story, “The King is Dead” (1973), the 13th and final uncollected story on our list, is something special. It was also the only uncollected fiction he completed until MOCKINGBIRD in 1980. It’s so good it makes us wish he had been able to publish more stories during those years.

As the list above shows, all of the stories Tevis wrote during his “second period” from 1979 to 1984 were collected in FAR FROM HOME.

I have a 14th short story on my Tevis list, because during the deep search for “Mother of the Artist” I asked research librarians to check the Tevis papers held by Eastern Kentucky University , Ohio University, the University of Kentucky, and the Lilly Library at Indiana University. And we found a reference to a story that does not appear on the internet lists, “Machine Record” by Tevis Cogswell in the May 1961 issue of Science Fiction Adventures, a UK digest.

“The Best in the Country” –Esquire, November 1954.

Illustration by Plaut.

Also available online at:

https://classic.esquire.com/article/1954/11/1/the-best-in-the-country

Johnny, a young pool hustler from Las Vegas, goes up against Ned Bayles, the best in the country.

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Tevis had originally written this story for a writing class at the University of Kentucky. Many old magazines are just dust now, but Esquire is still going, and best of all, they have a strong online presence and have posted many of their great old stories. “The Best in the Country” is one of them, so it’s there waiting for you if you have not already enjoyed it. Or if you haven’t seen it since 1954.

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“The Man From Chicago”- Bluebook, January 1955.

Illustrated by Tracy Sugarman.

They were still telling stories about the legendary Billy Curtiss from Chicago when a mild old man nicknamed “Hustler Curtiss” came into Charlie’s poolroom.

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“The Big Hustle – Collier’s, August 5, 1955.

Illustrated by Denver Gillen.

A young hustler called Hot Springs Babe comes to town and takes on Ned Bales, the best in the country.

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“Misleading Lady” – The American Magazine, October 1955.

Illustration by Mary Mayo.

A novice actress tries out for a part in a play but does her best acting backstage, not onstage. Light, romantic short short story.

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“The Hustler” – Playboy January 1957. Reprinted in Playboy January 1989.

Color woodcut by Richard Tyler.

Big Sam Willis, once the best in the country, gets out of prison and heads for Bennington’s Pool Hall in Chicago. Using the name George Graves, he hustles the richest, fattest, best player there, Louisville Fats. But someone in the crowd watching the game knows he is not George Graves.

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Tevis called this story “The Actors”

In those days Playboy had a great literary editor, Ray Russell, who bought and published many fine stories by many now-legendary authors. Ray Russell suggested a title change to the more appropriate “The Hustler”. It was just right, and Tevis used that title when he expanded the story into the 1959 novel. Years later, in an article for the LA Times in 1987, Ray Russell wrote about how changing the title of the Tevis story wound up giving Paul Newman the first of his string of “H” movies (HUSTLER, HUD, HARPER, HOMBRE).

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“The Stubbornest Man” – Saturday Evening Post, January 19, 1957.

A cantankerous old farmer wants no help from his college-boy son. But the son’s new wife works wonders on the old guy.

This story also appeared in the UK in the June 29, 1957 issue of John Bull.

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The reason I don’t like this story is because I don’t believe it as a story at all. It feels just like something a creative writing teacher would come up with to illustrate “How to sell a story to The Saturday Evening Post”. It has everything you would need for a guaranteed sale to the slickest of the slicks, except maybe a crippled child with a sick kitten.

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“Sucker’s Game” – Redbook, February 1958.

Illustrated by Mac Connor.

Eddie walks into a poolroom and selects a fat man named Turtle to hustle. But Eddie is about to get a big surprise

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Although Redbook Magazine would later be identified as a Woman’s Magazine, back in 1958 they were publishing what they called “A Fiction Feature for Men”. The February 1958 issue of Redbook included this tough-as-nails Tevis story. The fifth of his “pool hustler” stories, “Sucker’s Game” has the feel of the 1959 book THE HUSTLER, where both Eddie and Turtle return as characters.

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“First Love” – Redbook, August `1959

Illustrated by Bob Patterson.

A married man at the movies with his wife and daughter falls in love with the classy, glamorous actress on the big screen. Although never named, she seems a lot like Grace Kelly.

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Very sweet, very short, and very simple, “First Love” is a romance that feels like it really happened. You want to believe it really did.

This story also appeared in UK in the January 24, 1959 issue of Woman’s Own.

Image courtesy of philsp.com.

“Alien Love” – Cosmopolitan, April 1959.

Illustrated by Al Buell.

Miss Dodd, the principal, investigates a charge of indecency brought by a young student against a new teacher from Budapest.

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Tevis called the Cosmopolitan story “The Man From Budapest”, a good title, but the editors unfortunately chose to change it to “Alien Love”. That sounds like a science fiction story, which it is decidedly not.

“Alien Love” was sold to television and turned into an episode of “The Loretta Young Show” in 1959. Loretta played the school principal and Walter Slezak was the man from Budapest. The spoiled schoolgirl was played by Suellyn Lyon, who was just about to be cast as Lolita, shorten her name to Sue, and become a movie star.

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“A Short Ride in the Dark” – Toronto Star Weekly, April 4, 1959.

A storm has knocked out the telephone lines, so a man living out in the country has no other options, he has to drive his wife to the emergency room through the stormy night. There is just one catch. He is blind.

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This story is so well plotted with tension and pitch black twists. It makes me wish he had written more stories like it.

Star Weekly Magazine started as the weekend supplement of the Toronto Star newspaper. In 1938 the publisher dropped Toronto from the title to make it more of a nationwide magazine, and sold it also as a stand-alone magazine in other parts of the country. In 1959 the price was 15 cents.

“Gentle is the Gunman” – Saturday Evening Post, August 13, 1960.

It may look like a Western, but “Gentle is the Gunman” is about a boy and his widowed Mom, all alone and running a general store. A gentle and lovable giant, the mild Mr. Merrill comes to work for Mom as a handyman and fixes everything. And I mean everything: the boy even gets a baby brother.

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Titled “When Mama Hired a Gunman”, this story was reprinted in Today: The New John Bull in the UK.

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“The Pool Hustlers” – Nugget, February 1961.

“I seen them all. I seen Michigan Benny stroll into the room looking like a sharecropper. I seen the Arizona Mudball, wearing, so help me, Bermuda shorts and a Jungle Jim hat, win a half interest in a diamond mine…”

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After THE HUSTLER was a success, Tevis revisited that world for a sixth hustler story. A bit lighter and more comical than the gritty earlier stories, he called it “The Machine That Hustled Pool” and sold it to Nugget. Probably wishing to cash in on THE HUSTLER money train, the editors there changed the title to “The Pool Hustlers”.

“Machine Record” by Tevis Cogswell – Science Fiction Adventures, May 1961. UK. A Nova Science Fiction Magazine.

Collaboration with Theodore Cogswell.

Image courtesy of philsp.com.

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The story was collected in a book, just not a Walter Tevis book. It appears in THE THIRD EYE by Theodore Cogswell, Belmont B50-840, 1968. On the copyright page there it says: ‘“Machine Record” (with Walter Tevis) copyright 1961 by Nova Publications Ltd.’ It is a collaboration by Tevis and Cogswell. There are no records in Tevis’s papers suggesting how much of this collaboration is Cogswell’s, how much is Tevis. But we do know that when Cogswell collected some stories in THE THIRD EYE, he included “Machine Record”.

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“The King is Dead” Playboy, September 1973.

A young chess hustler gets out of prison and enters into a battle of wits and high stakes chess with a rich older chess player.

“The King is Dead” (the English translation of the Persian “shah mat” or “checkmate”), is a chess story. And it is a perfect companion piece to THE QUEEN’S GAMBIT.

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The kid here is a lot like Eddie Felson, the older man a bit like Minnesota Fats. And Tevis sold the story to Playboy, the same magazine that bought “The Hustler” 16 years earlier. He basically sold them the same idea twice, changing the game played from one obsession, pool, to another obsession, chess. As with THE QUEEN’S GAMBIT, you don’t need to understand chess to enjoy this story

To end this with some good news, the literary agent of the Estate of Walter Tevis tells me plans are underway for an anthology made up of Tevis’s uncollected short stories and some previously unpublished stories.

 


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