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Interview: Listen in as Kristen Roupenian, author of the most talked-about short story of 2018, discusses the furor that surrounded it and all she’s learned leading into the narration of her new collection, You Know You Want This.

['Cat Person'] was good practice for recognizing that you put a book out in the world and then you let readers do what they want with it...
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  • "Cat Person" and Other Stories
  • ['Cat Person'] was good practice for recognizing that you put a book out in the world and then you let readers do what they want with it...

Publisher's Summary

Featuring a brand-new story

“What’s special about ‘Cat Person,’ and the rest of the stories...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.” (The New York Times Book Review

“Kristen Roupenian isn’t just an uncannily great writer, she also knows things about the human psyche - things that I always supposed I would learn at some point, but never did.... The world has made a lot more sense since reading this book.” (Miranda July, New York Times best-selling author)

“If you think you know what this collection will be like, you’re wrong. These stories are sharp and perverse, dark and bizarre, unrelenting and utterly bananas. I love them so, so much.” (Carmen Maria Machado, National Book Award finalist and author of Her Body and Other Parties

A compulsively listenable collection of short stories that explore the complex - and often darkly funny - connections between gender, sex, and power across genres.

Previously published as You Know You Want This, “Cat Person” and Other Stories brilliantly explores the ways in which women are horrifying as much as it captures the horrors that are done to them. Among its stories 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 10-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.” 

©2019 Kristen Roupenian (P)2019 Simon & Schuster

Editor's Pick

With the daring and agility of an acrobat
"I was recently in Las Vegas for business and I had the chance to take in a Cirque du Soleil performance for the first time. I found it bizarre and unsettling, but it was without a doubt one of the most astonishing displays of absurd talent I have ever experienced. That's also pretty much how I felt after finishing Kristen Roupenian's debut collection, You Know You Want This.

While "Cat Person" (the New Yorker story—also included here—that earned Roupenian a reported seven-figure advance after it went viral) has a humanistic, is-this-even-fiction feel to it, this collection shows range, restlessness, and a need to experiment. Her opening gambit moves from warped friendship, breezes past sex, and rapidly ends in horror film territory. One story presents an exhilarating #MeToo revenge fantasy, while another lays out an explanation of Morgellons disease more clearly than any scientific journal. And a romantic fairy tale (perhaps my favorite of the bunch), evolves into a dark fable before ending on a meta note of archeological melancholy.

Each entry presents a bizarre challenge that Roupenian, with deft trickery, consistently pulls off. A daring leap taken. An elegant landing. Despite her insane talent, I'll leave the jury out on whether this collection is capital I Important, but that's okay. These stories are unsettling for sure, but also playful, ambitious, and very, very fun."
Emily C., Audible Editor

What listeners say about "Cat Person" and Other Stories

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Enthralling

Enjoyed the stories. Felt the moral between the lines. Still unsure if that was a good or bad thing.

5 people found this helpful

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Excellent stories for the mind

I enjoyed listening to these stories a lot. I fell asleep listening to them most nights and the images were striking, memorable, and lovely to chew on for a few days. I had two gripes with it however. One was the writing; at times it felt immature or fan-ficy, and I wished an editor had massaged it more. The other was the underlying connection between all the stories which fetishised weak men or superior women. This would have been fine for a couple or even a few but I personally found it tedious and boring as a motif. Still, the creativity and imagination that the stories inspired was worth these shortcomings.

3 people found this helpful

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Engrossing

Engrossing tales from the dark but funny side. Not a single story disappoints. Will be looking for more by this author.

2 people found this helpful

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Really fun stories, mostly great narration

Very unique and fun to listen to short stories. I got this book after I read the short story "Cat Person". While I think that is still my favorite story in the collection, the other stories are good too. One of the narrators was a bit annoying and his performance was way too over the top, which ruined the story for me but most of the narrators were great. I would recommend this audiobook to everyone.

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darkly captivating

really loved this collection of short stories. mood-altering dark but not depressing. I think my favorite story was the first one even though there were many runner-ups. loved the narration the first female narrator definitely my favorite. not sure which short story the author narrated but definitely curious.

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couldn't stop listening

I'm so glad Toupenian is young! That means she'll write lots more fiction, and I'll read it as soon as it comes out. The stories have the style, insight and control of a millennial Henry James.
So damn good.

1 person found this helpful

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Why Cat Person?

Out of all the amazing stories in this collection, why chose the dullest of them all to be the title story? Truly unbelievable. These short stories are funny, sad, and grotesque all at once. I had a great time listening.

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Full of surprises - some quite shocking

Enjoyable storytelling with offbeat quirky but fun twists. Very enjoyable. Recommend listening for road trip or long commute.

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This collection of short stories is magic!

The stories catch the attention in the first word in a magic-realist atmosphere that is familiar while a little freaky. The characters are relatable, even when they reveal their darkest sides. Each one hits the listener and leaves contemplating for a while afterwards.

The writing is excellent on its own but the performances make the whole thing extraordinary. Each reader unique and fits their story perfectly. Every performance is pitch perfect.

I savored them one by one, letting each one expand and settle in my mind before enjoying the next one on another day.

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removed without finishing. trite, no point to them

unimpressed. trite and too long for what little subject there was. no point to these "tales."