Cover image for You know you want this : "Cat person" and other stories / Kristen Roupenian.
Title:
You know you want this : "Cat person" and other stories / Kristen Roupenian.
ISBN:
9781982101633

9781982101640
Edition:
First Scout Press hardcover edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Scout Press, 2019.

©2019
Physical Description:
225 pages ; 24 cm
Contents:
Bad boy -- Look at your game, girl -- Sardines -- The night runner -- The mirror, the bucket, and the old thigh bone -- Cat person -- The good guy -- The boy in the pool -- Scarred -- The matchbox sign -- Death wish -- Biter -- Acknowledgments.
Abstract:
A couple becomes obsessed with their friend hearing them have sex, then seeing them have sex ... until they can't have sex without him; a ten-year-old's birthday party takes a sinister turn when she wishes for "something mean"; a woman finds a book of spells half hidden at the library and summons her heart's desire: a nameless, naked man; and a self-proclaimed "biter" dreams of sneaking up behind and sinking her teeth into a green-eyed, long-haired, pink-cheeked coworker.

In this collection, Roupenian's stories explore the ways in which women are horrifying-- as well as capturing the horrors that are done to them. These are stories about sex and punishment, guilt and anger, the pleasure and terror of inflicting and experiencing pain. Fascinating and repelling in equal measure, the stories range from the mundane to the supernatural. -- adapted from jacket
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Summary

Summary

INSTANT NATIONAL BESTSELLER

NAMED ONE OF THE MOST ANTICIPATED BOOKS OF 2019 BY VOGUE , HUFFPOST , ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY , PUREWOW , REFINERY29 , NYLON , MARIE CLAIRE , BUSTLE , AND KIRKUS REVIEWS !

From the author of "Cat Person"--"the short story that launched a thousand theories" ( The Guardian )--comes Kristen Roupenian's highly anticipated debut, a compulsively readable collection of short stories that explore the complex--and often darkly funny--connections between gender, sex, and power across genres.

You Know You Want This brilliantly explores the ways in which women are horrifying as much as it captures the horrors that are done to them. Among its pages are a couple who becomes obsessed with their friend hearing them have sex, then seeing them have sex...until they can't have sex without him; a ten-year-old whose birthday party takes a sinister turn when she wishes for "something mean"; a woman who finds a book of spells half hidden at the library and summons her heart's desire: a nameless, naked man; and a self-proclaimed "biter" who dreams of sneaking up behind and sinking her teeth into a green-eyed, long-haired, pink-cheeked coworker.

Spanning a range of genres and topics--from the mundane to the murderous and supernatural--these are stories about sex and punishment, guilt and anger, the pleasure and terror of inflicting and experiencing pain. These stories fascinate and repel, revolt and arouse, scare and delight in equal measure. And, as a collection, they point a finger at you, daring you to feel uncomfortable--or worse, understood--as if to say, "You want this, right? You know you want this."


Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

Roupenian's solid debut is highlighted by moments of startling insight into the hidden-and often uncomfortable-truths underneath modern relationships. "Cat Person," which caused a sensation when it was first published in the New Yorker in 2017, is an unrelentingly, almost painfully, honest and perfectly rendered dramatization of the millennial heterosexual relationship and all its attendant anxieties and violences. The other stories, about sex, power, and personhood, range from the highly conceptual-in "Scarred," a woman magically summons what she thinks is her heart's desire, before she realizes the sacrifices one must make to truly attain it-to the aggressively realistic-in one of the best stories, "The Good Guy," readers are immersed into the train wreck thought process of Ted, who is certifiably and pathologically not like other guys, except, of course, that he is actually like so many guys. Another strong entry is "Death Wish," in which a divorced man living in a motel meets a girl on Tinder; when she shows up at his motel room, she has an unusual and upsetting sexual request for him. Though some stories don't land and rely too much on explication, there are some stellar moments of pithy clarity: In "Scarred," upon summoning a way to cheat desire, the protagonist muses, "I had everything that could be wanted. I invented new needs just to satisfy." This is a promising debut. (Jan.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


New York Review of Books Review

WHEN KRISTEN ROUPENIAN'S short story "Cat Person" went viral upon its publication in The New Yorker in December 2017, I was maybe the only person who didn't read it. Partly because it was the end of the semester, and partly because the prospect of an excruciatingly accurate story about dating had as much appeal as the idea of another bad date. So I had the privilege of reading all 12 stories in Roupenian's debut, "You Know You Want This," largely unaware of the singular life of "Cat Person," and free from preconceived notions or expectations. I was really surprised by what I read - by how exciting, smart, perceptive, weird and dark this collection is. The stories are stylistically consistent, but thematically so distinct that reading them felt like binge-watching 12 completely different, intense movies. "You Know You Want This" is probably best digested one or two stories at a time, but I kept getting lured into another and another just by Roupenian's first sentences: "The Class Six girls were bad, and everyone knew it," "This is Marla's first wine afternoon with the moms since The Incident," "Elbe was a biter." (Or there's the first sentence of "The Good Guy," which can't be printed here.) One story is about an increasingly precarious sex game, another about an 11year-old's birthday party gone wrong. There's a princess fairy tale, a guy in the Peace Corps who's tormented by his students, a bachelorette party with a special guest from a dirty movie - and that's just the half of it. As varied as Roupenian's stories are, they all clearly come from the same brain, one of those brains that feel out-of-thisworld brilliant and also completely askew - like those of Karen Russell, George Saunders, Mary Gaitskill. In addition to her simple, punchy opening lines, Roupenian likes to begin stories at true beginnings, like childhood or a brand-new relationship, her tales often ones of maturation in fast-forward. She also has a distinct method of ending, which I can only describe as pushing her characters and their plights off the deep end. These stories get really dark, really fast, often in the last page or two. That's especially the case with the first story in the book - "Bad Boy," the one about the sex game. If you can handle its brutal conclusion, you can likely handle the rest of the collection. I'LL say here that I'm not usually a fan of the dark, creepy or supernatural. My imagination holds onto those things for too long; I can't shake them. But the power of these stories transcends any one genre or element. Ultimately they're about what it means to be human. In "Sardines," a picked-on girl makes a "mean" wish for her birthday, and gets a complicated sort of revenge on her bullies. In "The Mirror, the Bucket, and the Old Thigh Bone," a princess falls in love with a figure in a cloak, which turns out to be an inanimate reflection of herself. I had a hard time determining exactly why I felt so moved by that story, but I sensed I too would be happier with that mirror, bucket and thigh bone as a partner than with most of my dates. "The Matchbox Sign" relates a man's perspective on his girlfriend's skin condition: "What if she really is hosting some kind of exotic infestation, and because of David's poorly timed outburst, the doctor wrongly consigned her to the realm of the mentally ill, drugging her into a mute endurance of her pain?" Oof. In "Biter," a woman fantasizes about biting her new co-worker, ? and when he eventually ^ forcibly kisses her, she finally feels she can get away with it. "That was awful," she thinks following his attack. "Worse than being bitten. Truly grotesque. But then, she thought, oh right. Here's my chance." I was especially disturbed by how much I enjoyed that story, as some kind of demented #MeToo-era manifesto. As for "Cat Person": I hope the story's hype doesn't define Roupenian's career, because she can do so much more. That story is just as precise and perfectly minimal as the rest of this collection, but the content is somewhat less interesting; perhaps its appeal is by now more a reflection of the expectations and experiences of its readers - our collective response to the gray areas of modern dating. What's special about "Cat Person," and the rest of the stories in "You Know You Want This," is the author's expert control of language, character, story - her ability to write stories that feel told, and yet so unpretentious and accessible that we think they must be true. lauren holmes is the author of "Barbara the Slut and Other People."