Lost Cat: A beautifully paced treatise on the human need for love

Book review: Mary Gaitskill mines details from her own life in this story of loss and recovery

Lost Cat could be deemed more sentimental territory, beginning with the story of how the author rescued a stray cat in Italy and brought him to live with her in the US. Photograph: iStock

Lost Cat could be deemed more sentimental territory, beginning with the story of how the author rescued a stray cat in Italy and brought him to live with her in the US. Photograph: iStock

Earlier this year Daunt Books brought us a lost classic in Penelope Mortimer’s collection Saturday Lunch with the Brownings. The introduction to that book has a quote from Mortimer on inspiration. She says that she mined her life for incidents with a beginning, middle and end, “finding even the dreariest of days contained nuggets of irony, farce and unpredictable behaviour”.

Daunt’s latest book is the American author Mary Gaitskill’s Lost Cat, a short, searing read that originally appeared as an essay in Granta. Unusually for Gaitskill, a master of short fiction whose publications include the seminal collection Bad Behaviour, the novel Veronica and last year’s luminous novella This Is Pleasure, Lost Cat is a personal essay that uses instances from the author’s life to discuss universal concerns of love, loss and recovery.

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