January 10, 2019

"All I remember from the rest of that afternoon was sitting under an oak tree in a University of Michigan quad... thinking, This is it. This is the happiest I will ever be...."

"On Monday, December 4th, my story 'Cat Person' came out in the magazine and online.... Three days later, I was sitting in a coffee shop with my girlfriend, Callie, trying to write, when she looked up from her computer and said, 'There’s something going on with your story.'... 'It’s just Twitter,' I said... Then I went home, fired up Twitter, and saw that I had a bunch of notifications from strangers. I was reading through them when my mom called about something unrelated. I tried to explain to her what was happening, and then she went online herself and, at some point, she said, 'Oh, my God, Kristen, someone Barack Obama follows just retweeted your story.' Then she burst into tears."

From "What It Felt Like When 'Cat Person' Went Viral" by Kristen Roupenian in The New Yorker.

14 comments:

Yancey Ward said...

Someone who saw Barack Obama take a shit called me a dumbass once.

surfed said...

I know the feeling. 20 years ago the very first thing I ever wrote was published in the foremost magazine in the world on the subject. Millions of readers worldwide. Fan mail vis letters to the editor and several hundred plus emails in the in-box. It was cloud time heady. Plus the five figure check didnt bounce. I know where she's coming from.

Fernandistein said...

someone Barack Obama follows just retweeted

The average social distance is logarithmic to the size of Kevin Bacon!

Gunner said...

These lesbians sure think about weird men sexing women a lot.

FullMoon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
bagoh20 said...

I distinctly remember the happiest I ever felt. At 15 years old I had just returned from working the whole summer as a tobacco picker in Connecticut, hundreds of miles from home. $1.25/hr minus $0.60 for room and board in a barracks with about a hundred other boys. A lot of them washed out and went home early. It was 6 days a week, no days off, no recreation, no right to leave the camp and very hard, hot, dirty work, with poor food, and no girls. I had saved most of what I made and had over $300 for the summer. I remember getting home, plopping down in an old family chair in the living room as my mom handed me a plate of sandwiches, and I just felt wonderfully relieved and at peace. It was over. I had accomplished something, it was hard, I made the most money I ever had, and it was mine. I fell off to sleep for about 16 hours. True bliss.

bagoh20 said...

The following fall I got a letter published in our city paper in which I critiqued the new middle school policies. My gym teacher, who looked and acted like Mike Ditka, did not appreciate my effort. He stood me up in front of the whole class in my swimming suit and spanked my little ass with a board. Everybody laughed, including me. Some teachers approved of the letter. I was very proud that my editorial got published, but even prouder that it pissed off that guy so much. It was a great moment, maybe the highlight of my scholastic career. I still have that letter 45 years later. It was pretty good.

wildswan said...

I hated the story and thought I hated the author. But she's just a person, happy, curious, puzzled like anyone else and really a pretty good writer. It's her topics - isn't there anything better to write about? I sound like a Mom.

Sebastian said...

So a lesbian speaks for all young women in exposing male shittiness (the guy was fat, you know--yuck), following up that tour de force with short stories exposing humanity's narcissistic sadism, praised by reviewers as "you know you want this."

I Have Misplaced My Pants said...

'Oh, my God, Kristen, someone Barack Obama follows just retweeted your story.' Then she burst into tears."

That's it, the Pants household has a new turn of phrase.

Oh my God, Kristen!

chortle chortle chortle

Phil 3:14 said...

“And then I realized she was a lesbian, and I was over it.”

gilbar said...

you know, the thing of it is; That day Probably WAS the happiest she'll ever be.
She had one short story published in the New Yorker (for what i'll bet wasn't much money), and then some people talked about it: for a few days.

That will Probably be The High Point of Her Life.
Can you think of anything more depressing than that?

20 years from now, a 56 year old lesbian sits on her bar stool looking into her glass, mumbling to herself: someone Barack Obama followed retweeted my story

Sydney said...

No doubt about it, porn is popular.

Mike said...

Good for her. It's an interesting short story that found an audience. And it is not sad, IMO, that she thinks this might be the zenith of personal happiness for her. You are only young once, and having a story talked about by so many people is thrilling, and she was about to start a career as a professor (and let's be honest, the highlights of such a career are rarely as high as "everybody's talking about your short story" high), and so this worry-free day when things went right is indeed a moment to be savored. She may have another wonderful moment like this. No one knows. But this might just be the best day for personal fulfillment she has. If it is, there's nothing wrong with that.

And for those who call her story "porn" or stupid, or expect her personal love life to invalidate her dating insights revealed through the complex short story, please fuck off. You obviously didn't read (or like me listen to her read it through the Author's Voice podcast from The New Yorker) the story with any care or understanding, you missed completely her internal longing for the guy in the lead-up to their first date, and missed any subtlety Roupenian imbued the story with. Her character has (or had in childhood) a cat too, you know.