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Another Insane Devotion: On the Love of Cats and Persons Hardcover – November 13, 2012


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Da Capo Press; First Printing edition (November 13, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0738215260
  • ISBN-13: 978-0738215266
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.6 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #122,396 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

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. --Nancy Bent

Review

Chicago Tribune, 12/1/2012
"'Another Insane Devotion' is more than a literary memoir. . . .His crisscrossing passions are too busy and engaging to succumb to the genre's tendency to drearily impart life lessons. 'The nature of love' is an excuse for him to riff across centuries, from cat burial in ancient Cyprus to the lyrics of Sappho to marriage in the Torah to John Ruskin's unhappy wedding night to the novels of James Salter. 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.'"


"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. . . You may still adore this book for everything else it offers: a suspense story, a love story, a falling-out-of-love story, sex and yearning, literary gossip, economic hardship, conspicuous references to the Western canon, meditations on Being, picturesque Italian getaways, medieval torturers, death.  .  .  . Not many things are better than a kitten, but a book like this comes close." -- Jennifer McDonald, The New York Times Book Review

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
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
 “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 ca

Los Angeles Review of Books, 4/9/13
“Another Insane Devotion is, at its core, a meditation on why we love… Trachtenberg deftly maneuvers between the personal, the historical, and the philosophical…His intelligence and wit as a writer carry the book…At the heart of the text is a complex and emotional mind working out some of the deeper questions of love, attachment, and loneliness.”

New York Times, 4/28/13
“Trachtenberg tried to figure out what motivated the various women and cats in his life…and failed entertainingly at both endeavors.”

Brevity, 5/14/13
“[Trachtenberg] uses his curiosity, as exacting as his prose, like a microscope to map the development and boundaries of love and marriage.”

WomanAroundTown.com, 7/10/13
“Even as Peter [Trachtenberg] searches for his beloved feline, he embarks on his own inner journey of discovery about himself, the meaning of loyalty, and what’s at the heart of loving and being loved.”

Internet Review of Books, 7/17/13
“A thoughtful and quirky book…If you love cats…you'll probably enjoy it.”

Bookforum.com, 8/14/13
“A far-flung and highly erudite meditation on the nature of love.”

Portland Book Review, 7/23/13
“Many readers will no doubt find several relatable recollections to keep them engaged.”

More About the Author

Peter Trachtenberg is the author of the memoir 7 TATTOOS, THE BOOK OF CALAMITIES: Five Questions About Suffering and Its Meaning (Little Brown, August 2008), and ANOTHER INSANE DEVOTION (Da Capo, October 2012), a book about the search for a missing cat that's also an encoded exploration of love and marriage. 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."

Trachtenberg has taught creative writing at the New School, the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, the City College of New York, St. Mary's College of California, the University of Iowa Summer Writers Festival, and Ashland University. He's also taught in Bard College's Language & Thinking Program. Since 2011, he has been an Assistant Professor of English at the University of Pittsburgh.

He's the recipient of a NYFA artist's fellowship, the Nelson Algren Award for Short Fiction, a Whiting Writers Fellowship, a 2010 Fellowship from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, and a 2012 residency at the Rockefeller Foundation's Bellagio Center. The Book of Calamities was given the 2009 Phi Beta Kappa Society's Ralph Waldo Emerson Award "for scholarly studies that contribute significantly to interpretations of the intellectual and cultural condition of humanity."

Customer Reviews

This is a book for cat lovers, and people who love anything.
Linda R. Petrilli
This is a cleverly written book covering more than the antics and love of cats.
Crorlz34
Being a passionate cat lover, I felt compelled to read the book and did, twice.
Layla Morgan Wilde

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

26 of 28 people found the following review helpful By RetiredOBGYN on January 1, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A wondrous meditation on cats, and the author's life, with side-trips into History,
Psychology, Biology and Philosopy, and the fate of Biscuit, who goes missing early in this urbane and immensely intelligent and entertaining book. Began reading favorite passages to our Lola, a languid and extremely longhair anthracite-black Persian whom my wife and I rescued from a shelter, promising her a sophisticated new life. Lola was fascinated for many a minute before she grew jealous and let us know that she wanted us to focus on her and not on a book, however scintillating and colorful.
This memoir is a masterpiece about a tiny cat that disappeared, but Trachtenberg's writing soon expands to include many other universes, gliding smoothly from the personal to the universal. A virtuoso performance.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By D. Davison on January 10, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
It is such a pleasure to find a book about cats that is beautifully and intelligently written. Of course it's not really a book about cats but rather it is about relationships, human and trans_species. I was attracted to it because of the feline element. I found it to be a lovely read.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Jen Pocock on July 24, 2013
Format: Hardcover
This book isn't for everyone- only for people who enjoy words, who ponder how seemingly disparate pieces of life fit together, and who listen to the honest, sometimes ugly, truth of life and appreciate it. This is a book for realists. While so much of it is about cats, if you come away thinking this is a book about cats you've missed the point. Ironically, one of the most honestly human books of the modern day that I've read.

All of that gushing done, I do wish that more of the life narrative was shown; more actual conversations to understand Peter and F's relationship, more of an arch in their relationship development. This desire for more of their relationship was probably intentional, the reader feels the way he does. It also left me wondering if he ever really knew her or loved her, he might ask himself the same question.

Peter would be happy to know that since reading this I have been nicer to my cat.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Judith Moore on February 5, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is a some what strange book, with Trachtenberg's beloved missing cat and his also beloved but somewhat distant wife alternately as his focus. I share his deep subjective bond with cats, but I kept wondering what his wife thought of being a subject. I read the book compulsively, though, even though I felt t times as if I were invading someone's privacy.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Crorlz34 on January 31, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a cleverly written book covering more than the antics and love of cats. It also includes a wide range of brief discussions on loving others, philosophy, religion, wars and complications of human relationships. Written with wit and style. A book to enjoy and savor.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Kathleen Maher on June 1, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Another Insane Devotion: On the Love of Cats and Persons Peter Trachtenberg's book about his cats, his girlfriend who becomes his wife, and her cats, the family they make together, and how it changes, is fascinating and often fun. The book deftly includes so many aspects of his devotion--to cats and persons--both religious and personal, that I was amazed--a word I try not to use lightly.
The trustworthy structure moves well while including various Biblical, Gnostic, and historical references; also poetry, art, and a coherent but graceful moral reckoning. All of which make the book seductive. The cats, too, are seductive and distinctive--and not whimsical as many cat lovers seem to portray them. The story recounts the author's foibles and mishaps--his devotion here being real, not divine.
Insane or otherwise (if otherwise is possible), devotion requires recognizing every creature as unique. Trachtenberg's non-fiction story about honoring that uniqueness, or trying to, stayed with me as genuine. The endeavor is admirable because we so often fail to treat any creature, even ourselves, as unique. And--the book is amazing.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on May 28, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
He rambles and I think that is the point! A good book. Worth a read if you are a cat person, or lonely, or both.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By George A Kennedy on February 11, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The author understands cats very well, no easy tassk considering their individuality. He is realistic about their capablillity of human-like emotions. The personality of the narrator rather put me off. His relation to women, including his wife, seem poor.
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