×

Uh-oh, it looks like your Internet Explorer is out of date.

For a better shopping experience, please upgrade now.

Another Insane Devotion: On the Love of Cats and Persons
     

Another Insane Devotion: On the Love of Cats and Persons

2.0 3
by Peter Trachtenberg
 

See All Formats & Editions

From “a genuine American Dostoevsky” (The Washington Post): a dazzling, funny, bittersweet exploration of the mysteries of relationship, both human and animal.

When his favorite cat Biscuit goes missing, Peter Trachtenberg sets out to find her. The journey takes him 700 miles and many years into his past-- into the history of his

Overview

From “a genuine American Dostoevsky” (The Washington Post): a dazzling, funny, bittersweet exploration of the mysteries of relationship, both human and animal.

When his favorite cat Biscuit goes missing, Peter Trachtenberg sets out to find her. The journey takes him 700 miles and many years into his past-- into the history of his relationships with cats and the history of his relationship with his wife F., who may herself be on the verge of disappearing. What ensues is a work that recalls travel narratives from The Incredible Journey to W. G. Sebald’s The Rings of Saturn. Trachtenberg ponders the mysteries of feline intelligence (why do cats score worse on some tests than pigeons?), the origins of their domestication, their terrible treatment during the Middle Ages. He also looks at the riddle of why any of us loves whom we love and all the unforeseen places to which that devotion leads us.

Editorial Reviews

The New York Times Book Review
"Not many things are better than a kitten"…I'm predisposed to love Peter Trachtenberg's new memoir…because of that one sentence, which is written without irony and appears in an author's note before the main narrative even gets under way. If you agree with it, I'll bet you a giant toy mouse that you will adore this book outright for its scrutiny of the domestic cat in all its cuddlesome glory…If you don't agree, you may still adore this book for everything else it offers…Trachtenberg is an impish and intelligent essayist, his writing sinuous and sensual…[he] is an extraordinarily perceptive observer of cats and persons, but to observe, after all, is never to truly know. To his great credit, he embraces this, and his uncertainty brings the profoundest rewards. Not many things are better than a kitten, but a book like this comes close.
—Jennifer B. McDonald
Publishers Weekly
With his marriage in turmoil, and his beloved cat, Biscuit, missing, award-winning author Trachtenberg (The Book of Calamities) attempts to parse out the truth about his love for each. History proves paramount in this exploration, and not just the personal. Through short sections of intelligent, often humorous prose, former and potential girlfriends and past pets are conjured in hopes of understanding how people can fall in and out of love. Trachtenberg explores his relationship with his wife from early dates to the day before completion of this manuscript, in an effort to deduce how they ended up in their present predicament. Trachtenberg also weaves in accounts of the ancient domesticated cat, famous literary felines, and artistic allegories. His literary flourishes are sometimes a stretch, as when the water cycle serves as an allegory for a cycle for love. “Where on the grief scale do you place a lost cat?” he muses, following an exploration of Victorian mourning methods, and the reader realizes that nothing—not the loss of a marriage or a pet—can be felt so precisely. Even if the book ends with questions left unanswered and the fate of the marriage still tenuous, Trachtenberg’s journey proves entertaining and enlightening. Illus. Agent: Gillian MacKenzie, Gillian MacKenzie Agency. (Nov.)
Kirkus Reviews
A rambling depiction of a troubled love affair between a couple and their cats. Trachtenberg (The Book of Calamities: Five Questions About Suffering and its Meaning, 2008, etc.) begins with a disclaimer that this memoir "is based on real people…[but] also contains an artifact, an incident or detail that originates solely in my imagination," which he included "out of curiosity about the nature of nonfiction and its tolerance for admixture or adulteration." The author warns that he questions whether the memories he is writing about are real and admits that his wife disputes his account. "About my cat and the self I am with her I have fewer doubts." The author and his wife--novelist Mary Gaitskill, referred to throughout the memoir as "F."--married shortly after 9/11 and moved to a town north of New York City, where they and their cats could enjoy the rural environment. In 2008, Trachtenberg was teaching creative writing in a college in North Carolina while his wife attended an artist's residency in Italy. The cat sitter they hired to look after their collection of cats lost track of Biscuit, and he went missing. The narrative thread of the book is built on the author's decision to fly home and join the search for Biscuit, with flashbacks to other cats in their life intermixed with incidents in his courtship and subsequent married life. Trachtenberg paints a picture of his wife as a socially maladroit woman who courted rejection and had been cruelly bullied in her youth. He writes that he was drawn to her personality, which he found catlike: elusive and inscrutable. Despite the strains in their relationship--her deep depression after the death of another cat, his career problems and failure to be self-supporting, and more--the author reports surprise when his wife told him she wanted a separation. Ultimately, they reconciled, and Biscuit was found. A detailed but superficial account of a series of events related by an unreliable narrator.
From the Publisher
Another Insane Devotion—about love, sex, marriage and especially cats—is a hallmark of brainy discursiveness.”

Booklist, 11/15/12

“[A] meditation on the meaning(s) of love…Trachtenberg's lyric writing keeps the reader interested…making for a memoir that reads like a compelling work of fiction.”

Chronogram, November 2012
“Spiked with intellectual digressions and unlikely graphics, Trachtenberg's eccentric meditation on loss and transition is not your everyday cat book…[He] uses language as a flensing tool, peeling back layers to glimpse deeper truths.”

Chicago Tribune, 12/2/12

“This is surely the best book written about what it means to love cats, and to wonder if they love you, since Carl Van Vechten's The Tiger in the House."

Hudson Valley News, 11/14/12

“The season's most eccentric book…You'll have many smiles and a few tears while reading…The story of…the fierce and tender bonds of love between people and between people and cats…The book, in all its richness and humor,…tells us about loving a cat, loving a human being and where those loves can take us.”

InfoDad.com, 11/29/12

Eileen Myles, author of Cool for You and Inferno

“This is Peter's best book and if you don't know what that means just imagine your sweetest, most perverse storytelling friend asks to meet because he has a confession to make. When you arrive he informs you that he loves his cat more than life itself, or exactly that much and then he opens his shirt and shows you the cat tattoo and then he begins to tell you of his love and in a puff hours vanish and it's absolutely riveting.” 

Nick Flynn, author of  Another Bullshit Night in Suck City

“I am not a cat person—I approach each one on a cat-by-cat basis—yet Peter Trachtenberg is such a wonderful writer, and this book is so damn good, that I found myself carried along by its lucidity, its generosity, its deep wisdom. In the end, of course, Another Insane Devotion is about much more than cats.”

Publishers Weekly, 9/10/12
“Through short sections of intelligent, often humorous prose, former and potential girlfriends and past pets are conjured in hopes of understanding how people can fall in and out of love…Trachtenberg's journey proves entertaining and enlightening.”

T: The New York Times Style Magazine, 10/7/12

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780738215266
Publisher:
Da Capo Press
Publication date:
11/13/2012
Pages:
304
Product dimensions:
5.88(w) x 8.34(h) x 1.05(d)

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher
Eileen Myles, author of Cool for You and Inferno
“This is Peter’s best book and if you don’t know what that means just imagine your sweetest, most perverse storytelling friend asks to meet because he has a confession to make. When you arrive he informs you that he loves his cat more than life itself, or exactly that much and then he opens his shirt and shows you the cat tattoo and then he begins to tell you of his love and in a puff hours vanish and it’s absolutely riveting.” 
Nick Flynn, author of  Another Bullshit Night in Suck City
“I am not a cat person—I approach each one on a cat-by-cat basis—yet Peter Trachtenberg is such a wonderful writer, and this book is so damn good, that I found myself carried along by its lucidity, its generosity, its deep wisdom. In the end, of course, Another Insane Devotion is about much more than cats.”

Publishers Weekly, 9/10/12“Through short sections of intelligent, often humorous prose, former and potential girlfriends and past pets are conjured in hopes of understanding how people can fall in and out of love…Trachtenberg’s journey proves entertaining and enlightening.”

T: The New York Times Style Magazine, 10/7/12Another Insane Devotion—about love, sex, marriage and especially cats—is a hallmark of brainy discursiveness.”

Booklist 11/15/12“[A] meditation on the meaning(s) of love…Trachtenberg’s lyric writing keeps the reader interested…making for a memoir that reads like a compelling work of fiction.”
Chronogram
, November 2012
“Spiked with intellectual digressions and unlikely graphics, Trachtenberg’s eccentric meditation on loss and transition is not your everyday cat book…[He] uses language as a flensing tool, peeling back layers to glimpse deeper truths.”

Chicago Tribune, 12/2/12“This is surely the best book written about what it means to love cats, and to wonder if they love you, since Carl Van Vechten's The Tiger in the House."
Hudson
Valley News, 11/14/12“The season’s most eccentric book…You’ll have many smiles and a few tears while reading…The story of…the fierce and tender bonds of love between people and between people and cats…The book, in all its richness and humor,…tells us about loving a cat, loving a human being and where those loves can take us.”
InfoDad.com, 11/29/12
 “Sensitive writing, its focus on love and loss and the way the two sometimes merge, will intrigue people trying to come to terms with their own relationships (human and animal) and interested in a journey that proves as enlightening as it is entertaining.”
Bookviews blog, December 2012
“Trachtenberg is a talented writer who tackles subjects in ways that often make readers say ‘That’s me’ or ‘That’s my friend.’”
FionaMaazel.com, item about book: “[The] most engaging, sprightly, smart, and moving thing I’ve read in ages.”

VIVmag, 12/13/12
“What makes [Trachtenberg’s] story truly compelling—and haunting—are the images he paints, the poignant moments with both feline and female that make up this dual love story.”

New York Times Book Review, 12/30/12“I’ll bet you a giant toy mouse that you will adore this book…But then, this is not just a pet memoir…[It’s] about the torments of grief and separation as much as it is about the nature of desire and devotion…Trachtenberg is an impish and intelligent essayist, his writing sinuous and sensual…Trachtenberg is an extraordinarily perceptive observer of cats and persons, but to observe, after all, is never to truly know. To his great credit, he embraces this, and his uncertainty brings the profoundest rewards. Not many things are better than a kitten, but a book like this comes close.”
New York Times Book Review,
Editor’s Choice, 1/6/13
“Trachtenberg ponders the mysteries of relationships—both human and animal—in profound ways.”
Slate Book Review
, January 2013
Another Insane Devotion is a discursive essay on personal growth, a public exercise in private exorcism, and a collection of notes toward a philosophy of love.”
Tampa
Bay Times, 12/9/12“[Trachtenberg] writes eloquently, insightfully and often humorously.”
Ploughshares
blog, 12/7/12
“This isn’t just a book about cats or about a divorce…Trachtenberg posits beautifully the idea that the things and people we love are sometimes as puzzling as the emotion itself.”

More Magazine, Dec/Jan 2012-2013“[A] wide-ranging memoir.”

The Week
, 1/25/13
 “Trachtenberg makes you care about his frantic search for Biscuit, a quest he undertakes while sharing musings on cats from Homer, Proust, and the Gnostic gospels.”
CatWisdom101.com1/20/13 “[A] moving insightful meditation on love, loss and obligation…The best cat memoir I’ve read in recent memory. The richly layered writing, at once lyrical and lush evokes the figure-eights a cat ankleweaves when they want to leave their mark, and this does.”

Meet the Author

Peter Trachtenberg is the author of the memoir 7 Tattoos and The Book of Calamaties: Five Questions About Suffering and Its Meaning. His essays, journalism, and short fiction have been published in The New Yorker, Harper's, BOMB, TriQuarterly, O, The New York Times Travel Magazine, and A Public Space. His commentaries have been broadcast on NPR'S "All Things Considered." The recipient of a Whiting Writers Fellowship and a Fellowship from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. Trachtenburg was also honored for The Book of Calamities, which was the recipient of the 2009 Phi Beta Kappa Ralph Waldo Emerson Award "for scholarly studies that contribute significantly to interpretations of the intellectual and cultural condition of humanity."
www.petertrachtenberg.com

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Post to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews

Another Insane Devotion: On the Love of Cats and Persons 2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
After reading so many great writers it is a shock to come across something so banal and sophomoric. AND I LOVE CATS!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Name: Your face.<p>Looks: silver with gray leopard spots and silver left eye, right green eye.<p>Pers: Insane.<p>Status: mates with Toxin.<p>History: long as fu<_>ck. Gonna write a story about it on Missliterati (a website) called 'Story of an Insane Cat'.<p>Other: fu<_>ck off.