Review: You Know You Want This by Kristen Roupenian

Title: You Know You Want This: “Cat Person” and Other Stories
Author: Kristen Roupenian
Rating: ★★
Summary: 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. 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. They 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.


Note: an eARC of this title was acquired via NetGalley.

Most of the stories in Kristen Roupenian’s You Know You Want This were… not good, trailing behind the much-hyped “Cat Person” in substance and quality. Of the twelve included, I only really enjoyed four—”Cat Person,” “The Boy in the Pool,” “Biter,” and “The Good Guy”—but these were also the longest, had named characters, and included motivation and consequence which felt earned. (But really “Cat Person” most of all.) The rest read like first drafts, perhaps written by an ~edgy college-aged woman who read American Psycho and Tropic of Cancer “for fun” and wanted to push her readers toward discomfort for the chance to seem holier-than-thou when they (inevitably) “didn’t get it.” (Or perhaps I am merely projecting; I was that woman and saw a lot of my writing in Roupenian’s.) There was no real perversion within the book’s pages, only a facsimile of an attempt to tip-toe the line of grotesquerie. (I also can’t even remember what two of the stories were about.)

After finally reading “Cat Person,” I can understand why it went viral. Roupenian very clearly and cogently expresses an average first “date” of a 21st-century young, single woman who falls into a sexual encounter and then finds it’s simply too much effort to extricate herself before copulation. Instead of getting to enjoy the experience, Margot must distract herself until Robert finishes, becoming emotional support to his ego until it’s socially acceptable to leave. That he completely misreads her subsequent silence, that he sends a barrage of texts—at first pleasant then not—that he behaves in the exact way Margot hopes he won’t is the beautiful irony of the whole reading experience.

Unfortunately, none of Roupenian’s other stories are “Cat Person,” and I found myself powering through like Margot, hoping each new story would be better than it was, wishing, at times, that I’d never picked up You Know You Want This in the first place.

Trigger warning: the first story, “Bad Boy,” includes a rape scene. Idk either.

Top Ten: Books on My Winter TBR

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted at That Artsy Reader Girl. This week’s theme was books on my winter 2018/19 TBR. These quarterly posts are my favorite to post: not only because I love to peek at what’s being published in the next few months, but also because I love the structure this kind of TBR provides. (Even though I almost never follow my own choices!)

An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green // A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness // Here and Now and Then by Mike Chen // How the Internet Happened: From Netscape to the iPhone by Brian McCullough // In Cold Blood by Truman Capote

Mindhunter: Inside the FBI’s Elite Serial Crime Unit by John Douglas and Mark Olshaker // Night Film by Marisha Pessl // On a Sunbeam by Tillie Walden // The People We Hate at the Wedding by Grant Ginder // You Know You Want This: “Cat Person” and Other Stories by Kristen Roupenian

* ETA: Nasty Women by 404 Ink was replaced by In Cold Blood.

Month in Review: October 2018

month in review - oct

Favorite Media

I knew The Proposal by Jasmine Guillory was going to be a fun, contemporary romance but boy did I NOT expect Guillory’s ability to write. Her characters are fully-fleshed, the plot flies, and everyone just happens to be non-white and non-hetero. (Woot.) Here’s to hoping I love The Wedding Date just as much!

Y’ALL. I binged the first two seasons of The Good Place in four days then sat on my couch and plaintively asked, “What do I do now?” out loud once I’d finished. The third season feels ~different somehow, but I can’t figure out if it’s because the crew is SPOILER[on earth] or because I’m not watching six episodes in a row on my iPad under a blanket. I have thought many times about rewatching the first two seasons because I loved them so much.

Stuff I Added to My Queue

Honestly, I have no idea where I first encountered Can You Tolerate This? by Ashleigh Young (maybe on Lit Hub?), but I absolutely love the cover and the summary kind of hits all my buttons, too.

A fellow librarian purchased Adib Khorram’s Darius the Great Is Not Okay for the young adult collection, and the cover intrigued me so much that I felt compelled to read the summary… and that sounded so interesting that I added it to my TBR. #whoops

I will pretty much look into anything that mentions time travel, but not all time travel books are the same. Here and Now and Then by Mike Chen has so many different parts to it that I can’t wait to figure out how they all fit. PLUS it’s set in the ’90s. AND I love that cover.

A NEW ALL SOULS BOOK aka Time’s Convert by Deborah Harkness.

What If It’s Us by Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera seems to be inspiring both great and terrible reviews, but I adored Love, Simon and have They Both Die at the End on my TBR, so I couldn’t pass up the opportunity for a teenage romcom featuring two guys. (AND THAT COVER.)

On My Radar

  • I made myself a blog calendar via Google Sheets to better organize the content I want to include on thewasofshall – very heavily influenced by Shealea over at That Bookshelf Bitch btw – and it’s either going to make me extra a+ organized or super overwhelmed.
  • I got so many books this month that I have enough for another book haul video!
  • I’ve been trying to be more active in seeking out ARCs, and I was recently approved for three great-sounding ones: Here and Now and Then (01/29/19), My Favorite Half-Night Stand (12/04/18), and You Know You Want This: ‘Cat Person’ and Other Stories (01/15/19). It means I have to figure out when to read them but then again I also get to read them.

What were YOU up to in October? Let me know!