A story written by this woman, Kristen Roupenian, was printed in The New Yorker and went viral.
This is her first story in the New Yorker and she is at work on her first novel. No one really expected this story to take off and there is much speculation about why it did. This post is a true "blog" (web log) linking my investigation results.
It's interesting that the cats chosen for illustration of the reviews reflect the assumptions of the reviewer.
Fat cats are greedy and narcissistic.
Knowing a cat intimately means eye contact.
This modern liberated story demands an avant garde furless cat.
The kicker is that there is no cat in the story. It's just about a college girl who lets an "older man" (mid-thirties -- is that even middle aged?) pick her up online and how it turns out. She must be the cat: wandering, opportunistic, curious, intermittently fond, more attached to peers than parents. We read her opinion of this man, quite frank and critical. In fact, a little scary.
I kept thinking about Mary McCarthy's novel, "The Group," shocking at the time. Privileged girls were more privileged then and we were curious. I went to college with these types, but was teaching in Browning when I read it. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Group_(novel)
Here's a link to the cat-person story
Here's a link to the author explaining how the story came about.
And here's what I think was behind this story by Roupenian, the fantasy in both people's heads as outlined in our archetypal pheromone-based metaphor for sex: men's perfume ads. Except that the point of the story is that it IS fantasy.
The reviews are then like this purportedly "frame-breaking" vid of the making of the fantasy vid -- which actually only extends the vid a little longer.
“Treisman, for her part (She’s the fiction editor at the New Yorker), seemed as surprised as anyone by the story’s burst of popularity ― and she couldn’t put her finger on how to replicate it with future works of fiction. “In terms of the way that word spreads through social media,” she said, “that’s still something of a novelty to me at least. I’m not sure how to game it.” (My emphasis.) There’s the tip-off of the publisher’s point of view: the gaming point of view. She offers the example of another sexy “poem” story that went viral, not actually that different but frankly announced as rape.
Many commenters noted that these two stories have a resonance to them now that #metoo is piling up and up. The hope of glamour and the "deus ex machina" Jane Austen trick of a rich honorable man pulling you out of the typing pool or the adjunct faculty scramble is debunked in these stories.
What they're not saying is that if you choose well, it can work for a single unattached woman; but then only if she can handle the worst consequence which is, as they inelegantly say, "slut-shaming." Or a bad marriage, hard to escape.
This essay link takes on the question of whether this story really happened. I was a little shocked that the author didn't think of The New Yorker as a mag that publishes fiction.
If you were hoping for XXX stuff, here you go. I didn't read any of it, so I have no opinion. Use your own judgement.
In a world where this is more or less mainstream, where are the boundaries? This "Vice" article is more like promotion or consumer research -- anything goes. But I take the cat story as being the description of one boundary: the "ick" factor in a Dizneyfied commercial world. Where is the fabulous bed? (A major requirement for fantasy sex.) What if this mattress on the floor is unmade, with dirty sheets and real cats who sit up yawning and yowling when "Daddy" comes home?
It's not the fact of sex that forms the boundary in this story, since the cat-girl has already casually been to bed with friends. It's not the age difference. It's the aesthetics.