‘Cat Person’ by Kirsten Roupenian

My son first talked to me about this story. Other people were chatting about it but when my son told me, I listened (he’s not really a reader so it must be good?) Margot and Robert. A new kind of love conundrum. A state of the nation. A sex war / agenda. The small start – the cinema sighting, the texts. The Cherry Coke and the Doritos. The first sign of trouble with the reveal of Margot’s age. Then the terrible first kiss (always a bad sign). “I want her so bad, I might die.” Then the humiliating sex. And the slow demise. The attempted break-up texts – until Tamara steps in. Then it’s all downhill until the final word. It’s a harrowing read. A tale of caution in this world of app dating and the fictions and delusions of all dating experiences. The construction is spot on. The stages of infatuation / delusion are well-handled. The power shifts just at the right time. Finally, it is disappointing / upsetting but Robert’s drunk revenge is hard to predict or gauge. Roupenian’s pace and control are undeniable. And the fact that the break-up and the counter-attack are delivered by text. How prescient. A writer to watch – Roupenian received a $1.2m advance for her story collection You Know You Want This .

First published in The New Yorker, December 4, 2017, and available to read online here. Collected in You Know You Want This, Jonathan Cape, 2019

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