Bobcat and Other StoriesBobcat and Other Stories by Rebecca Lee
My rating: 4/5 cats
One StarOne StarOne StarOne Star

oh, canada! you have created another great author in your great-author factory!

i loved this collection so much, i read it twice. actually, i had to read it twice because the netgalley nook-version was full of flaws, so i felt i had to read it on the computer to make sure i hadn’t missed anything, and i hate reading on the computer, so that alone should give you a sense of my affection for this.

there are only seven stories, so they are kind of on the long side, but that works out well here, as she is given the space to really develop her ideas and characters.

there is something classic-feeling to this collection. she isn’t one of those whizz-bang authors who relies on stylistic flourishes to get the reader’s attention. she is more like a rainbow, just hanging out in the corner of the sky. “what, who, me?? yeah, i know i am lovely, whatever.”

there is one writerly tic that she has, and i am using that word without any of its negative connotations, but in a couple of stories she will just quietly run ahead of the words on the page and give a little preview of what is to come for the characters. but quietly, usually in a sentence or two, buried in a paragraph of present tense. and it is simple and subtle and very nicely done.

there isn’t a theme to this collection, although many stories involve dinner parties, infidelity, cultural clashes, academia, impossible relationships, language and the secrets it can hide. the stories complement each other, without feeling redundant.

it is difficult to play favorites, but i think i like the first and the last story the best. the first story just because it has so many killer lines in it:

People were soon going to be out in the streets and on the subway, making their way to our apartment. They wouldn’t want to picture their hostess like this — emotional, insecure, lashing out at her husband. You want the hostess to be serene, the apartment a set of glowing rooms awaiting you, quiet music pouring out of its walls, the food making its way through various complex stages in the kitchen — the slow broiling fig sauce, the buns in the warming oven, the pudding forming its subtle skin in the chill of the refrigerator.

and later:

Every dinner party by the end is a bit of a defeat. After the halfway mark, when everybody is still in high-spirits, some even intoxicated, and the dessert still hasn’t arrived, there is a moment when it seems like we are the most interesting dinner party in Manhattan tonight, we love each other, and we should do this all the time, why don’t we do this all the time? Everybody is calculating when they can invite everybody to their house for the next dinner party. But then there is the subtle shift downward. Somebody is a little too drunk. The bird, which was a bronze talismanic centerpiece, golden and thriving, is revealed as a collection of crazy bones. A single line from the archeologist Ernest Becker often tore through my mind at the end of long meals, that every man stands over a pile of mangled bones and declares life good.

but the story itself is fantastic as it tiptoes through the landmines of marriage and relationships and great unsaid truths, while side-telling stories about what the human body and spirit can endure and whether it is better to respect traditions or to evolve with the rest of the world, and all of these pieces somehow come together in a final and quietly devastating conclusion.

greg will not like that a character mentions having been served fox meat at a dinner party, and dana will flinch at the amputee*, but the rest of you should be okay with it.

the last story is also spectacular, and involves a series of dinner parties that align with larger world events of recent years such as the starr report and hurricane katrina and bounces the characters forward in time to show the progression of several different types of relationships. again, very quiet, very sparkling, and very very enjoyable.

i know i singled those two stories out as “favorites” but i think that was just because it is tidy to first-and-last it, and my brain thought it was true. but then i remember slatland with its wonderful willful blindness and passive suspicion and the banks of the vistula with its … well, that one is too complicated to get into in only a couple of sentences, and it’s something that needs to be read for oneself, and DO YOU NOT SEE HOW EXCELLENT THAT COVER IS?? so go read it. get outta here.

* she will also not like the second story. sorry, dana, this one isn’t for you. but you don’t like short stories anyway, so it matters not one bit.

read my reviews on goodreads

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Amazon Disclaimer is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon properties including but not limited to,, or,,, or


this feels gauche, but when i announced i was starting a blog, everyone assured me this is a thing that is done. i’m not on facebook, i’ve never had a cellphone or listened to a podcast; so many common experiences of modern life are foreign to me, but i’m certainly struggling financially, so if this is how the world works now, i’d be foolish to pass it up. any support will be received with equal parts gratitude and bewilderment.

To Top