BOOK REVIEW: KRISTEN ROUPENIAN – YOU KNOW YOU WANT THIS

Kristen Roupenian is the author the first short story to go viral, Cat Person. And now she has her first collection of short stories, You Know You Want This.

I’m sure everyone has read Cat Person, the short story from Kristen Roupenian from The New Yorker that went viral that created a discussion and a debate on relationships, power dynamics, dating and a lot more. And so, with the success of that short story with her brilliant and witty writing, Roupenian has now published her short story collection, You Know You Want This. Here’s the blurb:

From the creator of Cat Person – the first short story to go viral – comes You Know You Want This, a compulsive collection about sex, dating and modern life. These are stories of women’s lives now. They also happen to be horror stories. In some, women endure the horror. In others, they inflict it.

Here are women at work, at home, on dates, at the doctor’s, with their families and with their friends. Here are women grappling with desire, punishment, guilt and anger. These are stories that make you feel fascinated but repelled, scared but delighted, revolted but aroused.

You Know You Want This shows why Kristen Roupenian is the most audacious new voice in American fiction. Funny, furious, sly and explicit, she takes a long, hard look at the messed-up power dynamic between men and women – and messes it up some more.

I was quite late to the Cat Person party if I remember correctly but looking back, I do remember it being talked about on The High Low a lot and it being shared on social media again and again. But I was incredibly excited when I saw she was bringing out a new collection of short stories. Also, one reason why I wanted to read this as one of my “reading goals” this year is to delve more into short stories and I thought this was a pretty great place to start.

I really enjoyed this collection of short stories by Roupenian. They all offered something different – whether that be a different genre, a different message or even just the characters, they were completely individual but also a collective too. Roupenian is a great writer, she really is. When I was reading it, it just felt effortless. I just love the way she has with words and how she brings sentences together, it’s just brilliant. She’s also really brilliant in getting under the surface and getting to the heart of the characters and what makes them tick. She explores relationships, dating and the power dynamics in relationships with such brilliance and this is something that runs throughout the course of the book.

I preferred some stories to others but isn’t that the point of short stories? Offering something different but that being said, there were aspects I loved in each story and Roupenian’s writing is strong throughout. My favourites being: Bad Boy, Sardines, The Matchbox Sign, Death Wish and Biter. And, it was great to re-read Cat Person and refresh my memory. For me, Good Guy had the premise to be a really great story and a favourite of mine but I felt it just went on a bit too long for me and lost it’s impact.

Overall, I think this is a great debut collection of short stories from Roupenian. They are sharp, witty, frenzied, strange, surprising, complex, honest and hilarious in some parts (especially, Sardines. So. Good). Roupenian is really in her element: playing with genres, adjusting the power dynamics, giving voices to characters, desire (the good and the bad), violence, exploring what it’s like to be in a relationship, to be a woman, to be a man, to be human, to live in the modern world. Roupenian is a fantastic writer and a great exploration of all of those themes (and more). I can’t wait to see what she does next.

Have you read You Know You Want This? What did you think? Let me know in the comments! Also, do you have any recommendations for short stories? If so, please let me know in the comments!

Thank you,

Corey.

 

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