Tuesday, December 26, 2017


Kristen Roupenian has received a huge advance for her collection “You Know You Want This”and a prospective novel ("'Cat Person' Author, Kristen Roupenian, Gets 7-Figure Book Deal," NYT, 12/20/17). Her succes d’estime comes on the heels of the publication of “Cat Person,” a story that became viral after it was published in the 12/11/17 New Yorker. Texting in the context of a relationship that should never have been is the putative subject. And here are the last lines of the story. You may hear them in the aria from the soon to be opera (after all when something becomes a phenomenon in this age of social networking it becomes a Phenomenon).
      “Are you fucking that guy right now”
      “Are you”
      “Are you
      “Are you”
      “Answer me”

    It’s undoubtedly brilliant, but the question is the backstory. What some people consider horrible others might think of as mundane, comparatively harmless, familiar and even what love’s all about. An older guy picks up a girl who's working at a movie theater. They text or "sext" and after some degree of ambivalence have sex. During the course of the sex in which the girl caves in guiltily to something she doesn’t really want, her would-be lover loses his erection several times, but then meets with success. He walks away happy and mildly in love while she's disgusted and never wants to see him again. Again this is a matter of point of view. What would the story have been called if it were written from the male point of view? Would it have ended with the same back and forth or would the power of the exchange have been diminished by some degree of contrition and self-awareness.? In short would the story have been as effective and emotionally jarring if its male protagonist had been humane as well as human?

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