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More recently, Lauren Holmes delved into the concern in her 2016 story collection .So to some observers, it has been puzzling to watch “Cat Person” take off so rapidly.I guess for me-- I liked the interiority, how eerily true it felt.I've read so much fiction about the "unknowability" of women and so little about the fearful unknowability of men...— Talia B Lavin (@chick_in_kiev) December 11, 2017 is what drives Margot to sleep with Robert at the very moment that she realizes she is really not all that attracted to him: “The thought of what it would take to stop what she had set in motion was overwhelming,” Roupenian writes. ” When Robert calls Margot a whore at the end of the story, it feels inevitable. Familiarity is what gives the story its aesthetic power.Where “Cat Person” is acclaimed, it’s mostly for the eerie accuracy in depicting what dating is like for a 20-year-old woman.It captures the interiority of a certain kind of (middle-class, thin, white) woman perfectly: the guessing at what might possibly be going on in a man’s head, the slow piling-up of red flags that cannot quite be named and as such are dismissed, the desperate need to be considered polite and nice at all costs.Women’s short stories about their own interiority rarely make it into the literary canon at all.
The story centers on a 20-year-old college student named Margot who gradually falls into flirtation with a man named Robert.
A story like John Updike’s “A&P,” in which a man watches women and thinks about how hot they are, is a literary classic that is regularly taught in high schools.
The literary canon’s attempts to delve into women’s heads, meanwhile, tend to look like C. Lewis’s “Shoddy Lands,” in which a woman’s mental landscape is devoted entirely to her own grotesque body, and the absence of the male gaze in her head is a moral affront.
As Margot and Robert’s relationship develops, and the balance of power between them shifts back and forth, she cycles rapidly between imagining Robert as an adorable naif who is overwhelmed by her young beauty and sophistication, and imagining him as a vicious and murderous brute.
“Margot keeps trying to construct an image of Robert based on incomplete and unreliable information, which is why her interpretation of him can’t stay still,” Roupenian said in an interview.
“It would require an amount of tact and gentleness that she felt was impossible to summon.” And as Roupenian explores the interior of Margot’s psyche with breathtaking thoroughness in the foreground, Robert is in the background, throwing up warning sign after warning sign: He is older; he is controlling; he has a chip on his shoulder; he seems preoccupied with the idea of Margot sleeping with someone else. You recognize both the danger in the background and the interiority in the foreground.