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Another Insane Devotion: On The Love of Cats and Persons

3.46  ·  Rating Details ·  254 Ratings  ·  64 Reviews
"I am not a cat person . . .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." -- Nick Flynn, author of Another Bullshit Night in Suck City

From “a genuine American Dostoevsky” (The W
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published November 13th 2012 by Da Capo Press (first published October 9th 2012)
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Jun 10, 2013 Cat rated it it was ok
I wanted to find this book lyrical and profound; Trachtenberg is a wonderful writer, and the idea of using cats as both example of and figure for the force, mystery, and pain of love seems inspired to me. But the book itself seemed pretentious and pastiche-y to me (alluding to every intellectual touchstone from Derrida to Swann's Way); the insights into cat behavior and domestication banal; and the navel-gazing of telling the story of his vexed marriage seemed self-indulgent and pompous. ...more
Dec 05, 2012 Erin rated it it was amazing
This is an amazing book. Trachtenberg succeeds in combining his love of cats and his love of a woman, and the perils of all these relationships, and does it in a way that is not contrived. His history with cats, and of cats, is as vivid and compelling as his portrait of a failing marriage. The title says it all: "insane devotion." Make that plural. Love works in many ways. The book is also a travel memoir, as the author travels to Italy to retrieve an orphaned cat, as well as his wife, whose ...more
Carmen Rodrigues
Oct 04, 2012 Carmen Rodrigues rated it it was amazing
As Trachtenberg journeys home to find his beloved cat Biscuit, he takes us on a separate, lyrical journey through crumbling homesteads and lost pets until we arrive at the heart of his story--a marriage that is as beautiful as it is unsteady. In this raw space, Trachtenberg’s memoir shines best, proving itself a brave exploration of attachment, commitment, and the vulnerable interactions that make us human.
Jun 21, 2013 Diane rated it liked it
Shelves: memoirs, nonfiction
This is an enjoyable and meandering memoir about a lost cat -- but it's also about falling in love, getting married, and then falling out of love. And there are pleasant references to Proust and philosophers and history and art and poetry and trips to Italy...

I'd recommend this book first to anyone who loves cats, and second to anyone who likes thoughtful, rambling memoirs.
Dec 30, 2012 Miriam rated it it was amazing
A gorgeous book that you must read if you've ever loved an animal or a person. Yes, you.
Jul 24, 2013 Jen rated it really liked it
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 I've read.

All of that gushing done, I do wish that more of the life narrative was shown; more actual co
Mar 13, 2013 Victoria rated it did not like it
Really, really didn't like it.
This was my first by him & I hope my last.
Not enough abt cats & too much general whining.
Don't like his writing style, it was slow going,not easy to read, and I don't mean b/c of vocab. Just obstreperous.
Jan 06, 2013 Andrew rated it it was amazing
I wanted to laugh and cry in equal parts while reading... This is a book about love, life and cats. Each is displayed in its own flawed perfection. As the way most people either love or hate cats, I suspect you will either love or hate this book, and very little I will say will change that...
Mar 18, 2013 Maegan rated it did not like it
Sorry, guy. You started out really well, but went way too far into contemplating your navel and frankly, you're not any more interesting than I am.

Aside from that, I'm glad your cat came home.
Aug 31, 2013 Mark rated it it was amazing
I'm in awe of Peter Trachtenberg's writing: his elegant prose, poignant storytelling, and easy erudition. I don't say this because he's a friend and colleague. He's just damned good. His writing never feels like "research," reportage, or quoting and name-dropping for the sake of gravitas or the appearance of authority. If he talks about Nietzsche or Proust or Aretha Franklin, it is not to impress but because it is part of his life, the philosophy and art that he lives with and that speak to him ...more
Feb 04, 2013 Jenna rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: cat lovers
I'd give this about a 2.5, somewhere between "it was okay" and "I liked it."

First the good: the story of Biscuit was compelling, and I read, or at least skimmed, until the end because I wanted to know what happened. I was also struck by the disappearance of Gattino, and find myself still thinking about him even after I've finished the book. I learned a lot of random but interesting facts about cats. As a cat lover, I found the history of feline domestication, the science of cat vocalizations, a
Kathleen Maher
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 reckonin
Mar 10, 2013 Johannes rated it it was amazing
A beautiful, sprawling essay about too many things to mention here. In the end, it doesn't really matter what Trachtenberg is writing about, because, like the best essayists, he makes familiar territory fresh--makes almost any topic interesting. I could have cared less what happened to the cat (sorry, Biscuit), but I couldn't stop turning the pages.

Do not buy this book if you're looking for a literary version of Homeward Bound (*cough* see previous reviews *cough*). If that's the kind of stuff y
Sherri Mc
Mar 07, 2013 Sherri Mc rated it it was amazing
I generally do not read non-fiction. I am especially cautious of reading a book if an animal plays a major role in the story. I hate to read anything where a animal is in peril. I took a chance on Another Insane Devotion.

I was not disappointed. It was like reading Milan Kundera with cats added to the mix of relationships that needed untangling. The language was straightforward and economical, but replete with insight. There were some tough spots to read for a tender-hearted cat lover like mysel
Barbara Barth
Mar 05, 2013 Barbara Barth rated it it was ok
I purchased this book after an intriguing review in the Minneapolis Star Tribune. I cannot believe the reviewer invested any time beyond reading the description on the jacket cover...

I may have enjoyed the book if the Trachtenberg had limited his ramblings to cat burbles. But he would have had to market it as a pamphlet instead of a book! I disliked the detours into Trachtenberg's sex-capades with women (known only by their first initials to spare them further humiliation?). His use of profanity
great stylist, bad novelist, douchebag of a person.

There were some lovely passages wherein he describes his cats but this whole 'women as cats' metaphor is frankly idiotic and stretched to absurdity.

On a semi-unrelated note, I really can't stand people who let their cats outdoors in the city because it's 'natural' - do people really believe cats are smart enough to understand the dangers of a modern city? Or that they're able to navigate through an epidemic of feral cats without catching anythi
Sep 12, 2013 Florence rated it liked it
This author is so worried about his missing cat that he travels from North Carolina where he is working to New York to search for her. (The cat sitter has reported that she is missing.) As filler he writes of his relationship with his wife, religion, philosophy, history, sex, and anything that piques his interest. He writes of his personal relationships with a curious blend of intimacy and detachment which is quite engaging. Like all true cat lovers, this guy is slightly neurotic.
Feb 06, 2013 Brendan rated it liked it
Great scientific insights on the feline species, and I loved Trachtenberg's historical, artistic, and literary references. Even if I didn't know a thing about most of the paintings and stories he was talking about, I felt like I learned something. And while he says a lot about his relationships with various cats and women, he didn't do a very good job distinguishing them from each other. I was never quite sure which girlfriend or cat he was referring to.
May 28, 2013 Linda rated it it was ok
This personal memoir isn't really about cats. It's about a man who has cats. He writes about his ex-girlfriends and wife, referred to by initials instead of name. The observations are clever, but I have no interest in the love life of an irresponsible guy who loses his cats.
Stephanie A.
Mar 23, 2014 Stephanie A. rated it did not like it
Shelves: nonfiction
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sep 01, 2015 Candice rated it it was ok
I wanted to like this more than I did, as I am a cat owner and lover, but by turns I found it appealing, insightful, philosophical, humorous, irritating, depressing, cynical and off-putting. He loves, loves, loves his cats and yet as he describes them, they don't seem to return any real affection, and it seems that he and his wife, "F." care more for the animals than they do for each other.
May 29, 2013 Lisa rated it it was ok
My daughter picked up this short book for me because of the pretty cover. It wasn't what it purported to be - instead it was a story about a selfish guy who ignores his wife and loses his cats. Sometimes the writing was insightful; a lot of it was philosophical; but never did this memoir make me want to know the writer better. Meh.
Audi Martel
May 08, 2014 Audi Martel rated it it was amazing
This book is FANTASTIC. It is a beautifully written philosophical look at the indomitable feline characteristics of love and loss.
Edward Sullivan
Mar 16, 2013 Edward Sullivan rated it liked it
Shelves: memoirs
Not just about cats but they are central to the narrative and that's what I found most interesting in this engaging memoir. Devotees of feline companionship should much to enjoy here.
Kristi Cousineau
Sep 30, 2016 Kristi Cousineau rated it liked it
star tribune
Jun 11, 2013 Allie rated it liked it
On the back of the book jacket, an author who reviewed the book wrote: "...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."

Okay, I really enjoyed this book, but I wouldn't go that far.
Apr 09, 2015 Ioanna rated it liked it
it's more about his cat bitey than you want to know. And inside all that info he dribbles out tiny shadows of the ghost I think is his wife, little shreds of what was his wife, and then suddenly he gives you a thread that connects you to the book, the gossamer spider web glinting in the light that keeps you reading--he looks at his wife drinking a bottle of something, you see him watch her and like get this moment where he knows she knows she needs him to watch her drinking it and his whole life ...more
Tejas Janet
Jul 20, 2016 Tejas Janet rated it really liked it
Shelves: cats
I really liked this book. It's not a quick read so don't bother if you're looking for one of those easy, cute books by non-writers about their pets. Btw, I read and enjoy many books that fit that description as well. I enjoy variety in books and try to assess each on its own terms. This is a philosophical book more than a pet book though one of the subjects is cats and the author's relationship with cats in general and with various specific cats in his life, past and present. I think this book ...more
Sep 02, 2015 Suzy marked it as abandoned
I have mixed feelings about this book. At times I loved the author's insights into love and cats and enjoyed his humor, often chuckling aloud. But I was irritated by his writing style. He referred to his wife and girlfriends by their initial, constantly jumped topics and timeframes and made unrelenting references to famous authors and philosophers. I knew without him telling me that he was a liberal arts college professor. (No disrespect to liberal arts colleges.) I kept thinking that I would ...more
Jul 08, 2015 Cheryl rated it liked it
Shelves: cats
An interesting look at the author's relationships with cats and with women, looking at different points in his life, with the central focus being a trip to find one of his cats that has disappeared while he is working in another state for the summer. Interspersed are comments and philosophy about relationships in general and about the relationships between cats and people. There is a compulsion to see how things turn out that keeps you reading, even though it is not a compelling read, per se. ...more
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Goodreads Librari...: Please add this book to my author page 13 191 Jan 11, 2013 03:48AM  
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name. See this thread for more information.

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 encode
More about Peter Trachtenberg...

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“She hops expectantly into the sink. I turn on the tap for her; she laps without a glance in my direction, like a duchess so used to being ministered to that she no longer notices the servants and sees only a world where objects dumbly bend to her wishes, doors opening, faucets discharging cool water, delicious things appearing in her dish.” 3 likes
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