You Know You Want This: "Cat Person" and Other Stories (Hardcover)
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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.”
About the Author
Kristen Roupenian graduated from Barnard College and holds a PhD in English from Harvard, as well as an MFA from the Helen Zell Writers’ Program at the University of Michigan. She is the author of the short story, “Cat Person,” which was published in TheNew Yorker and selected by Sheila Heti for The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2018. She is currently at work on a novel.
"It's unheard of for a short story to go viral, but 'Cat Person'—through a combination of impossibly sharp writing and impossibly good timing—had done it. A year later, Roupenian's debut collection proves that success wasn't a fluke. The 12 visceral stories here range from uncomfortable to truly horrifying and are often—though not always—focused on the vicious contradictions of being female… Unsettling, memorable, and—maybe perversely—very, very fun." —Kirkus Reviews, starred review
“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
"The stories in You Know You Want This are wildly strange and deeply human. When it comes to the secret hurt and twisted desires that lurk in seemingly mundane encounters between men and women, Kristen Roupenian is a super genius. I loved every single word of this freaky, fantastic book." —Julie Buntin, author of Marlena
“In an age that needs a wrecking ball You Know You Want This provides one. This is a raucous, visceral page-turner that tunnels into the heart of relationships gone awry, modern-day miscommunications, and other horrors of being human. Not polite. Suffers no fools. Takes no prisoners. Read it.” —Jeff VanderMeer, New York Times bestselling author of Annihilation
"These transgressive and darkly electric stories announce the arrival of a bold, new, necessary voice in American short fiction." —Claire Vaye Watkins, Story Prize-winning “5 Under 35” author of Gold Fame Citrus and Battleborn
"Exceptionally compelling; I love the way these stories create a world that is simultaneously familiar and deeply unsettling, showing—in strange and surprising ways—the interplay of disgust, fear and desire. Images from the book keep coming back to me: its narratives feel both mythical and completely modern." —Megan Hunter, author of The End We Start From
"Roupenian’s solid debut is highlighted by moments of startling insight into the hidden—and often uncomfortable—truths underneath modern relationships… 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." —Publishers Weekly