Reviews for Another Insane Devotion : On the Love of Cats and Persons
Booklist Reviews 2012 November #2
In this meditation on the meaning(s) of love, Trachtenberg (7 Tattoos, 1998; The Book of Calamities, 2008) writes of the main relationships in his life. The foremost two are with his cat, Biscuit, and with his wife (referred to as F.), and a melancholy thread ties the two together: the disappearance of his cat during a period when his marriage was falling apart. With a fluid sense of time, the author traverses the stories of these two primary loves referring to memories of former ex-girlfriends, previous cats, and his former life. He ties these reminiscences together with far-ranging analogies from Proust, the history of the Dominican order, the physics of Schrödinger's cat, and the The Odyssey, never leaving behind the two mysteries that weave through the text: Will he find Biscuit? And will he and his wife stay together? Trachtenberg's lyric writing keeps the reader interested in the answers to these two questions, making for a memoir that reads like a compelling work of fiction. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.
Kirkus Reviews 2012 October #1
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. Copyright Kirkus 2012 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.
Publishers Weekly Reviews 2012 September #2
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.) [Page ]. Copyright 2012 PWxyz LLC