"Cat Person" and Other Stories

Length: 7 hrs and 51 mins
4 out of 5 stars (227 ratings)

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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...

  • "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

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Enthralling

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

4 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

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.

2 people found this helpful

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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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Engrossing

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

1 person 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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    5 out of 5 stars

Fantastic stories, expertly written

These stories are fantastic. They are dark and funny and sometimes surreal, or rather, there is some magical realism (reminded me of Aimee Bender a little bit).
Also, she does some interesting stuff with POV in the Good Guy that would be hard for most people to pull off.
some stories are stronger than others, and sometimes a story starts out strong but then has a weak ending - still, overall, it's a great collection and I wish I could write like this.
If you are getting an MFA in creative writing, you will like this book.
Finally, the Narrators are superb.

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Well Balanced and Masterfully Written

A wide range of content with each story wonderfully developed and narrated. An underlying thread of uncomfortable or perverse desires or thoughts runs through each uniting them as a body, but each story is its own original and delightful departure from that theme

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There Are No Words ....

To adequately describe how thought-provoking, chilling and utterly unnerving these stories are. Reminiscent of Shirley Jackson and perhaps William Golding but with a modern applicability that will leave the listener in a state of shock.

The readers were superb.

Be prepared to suspend your life while you listen. You will not be able to tear yourself away or do anything else till the stories end.

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Perfect Until...

Dark, disturbing and honest, these short stories are sure to get under your skin. The narration is generally superb, however it was an unfortunate choice to allow the author to narrate the final piece.