The End of Being Known: A Memoir

The End of Being Known: A Memoir

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by Michael Klein
     
 

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Written in poet Michael Klein's uniquely passionate voice, The End of Being Known explores the lines that define, yet also blur, the boundaries of sex, friendship, and compatibility. This collection of autobiographical essays probes the manifestations of sexual desire in its mystical variety: experiencing incest, falling in love, being a twin, and inhabiting the world

Overview

Written in poet Michael Klein's uniquely passionate voice, The End of Being Known explores the lines that define, yet also blur, the boundaries of sex, friendship, and compatibility. This collection of autobiographical essays probes the manifestations of sexual desire in its mystical variety: experiencing incest, falling in love, being a twin, and inhabiting the world of anonymous sex -- in practice, and, in an essay about the Body Electric movement, as something recuperative and renewing.

Each essay unfurls in a hybrid of poetry, narrative, and fragmentary literary devices. Here is an uncompromising gaze upon the quandaries of those whose sexual, emotional, and relational worlds collide, yielding no answer to the riddle of desire.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Although this entry in Wisconsin's Living Out: Gay and Lesbian Autobiographies series is labeled "a memoir," poet and anthologist Klein pastes together a sheaf of autobiographical meditations that drift and sweep aimlessly, unable to coalesce. Klein's previous memoir, Track Conditions (to be re-released along with this title), covered his five-year stint as a groom in a world-class Ohio racing stable, his abuse by his stepfather and his addiction to alcohol; this quasi-sequel adds a few revelations. In poetic chapters, Klein explains how sobriety has led to the "end of being known," his inability to conduct a successful long-term relationship. He attends a marathon sex workshop in TriBeCa, in lower Manhattan, in which adventurous men shed both clothes and inhibitions, but the experience brings Klein no real happiness. He remembers sexual liaisons with both his twin brother as well as his stepfather, the first a childish twin thing, the second all too adult and threatening. He ponders the rarity of being a twin, moves to a suburb "the month the planes crashed into the buildings into New York." Klein's prose style, like his poetry, is dreamy, allusive, repetitive in that way that admirers term "hypnotic." The book's focus is all too often on the foggy beaches of Provincetown, the bleak seascapes and boardwalk consolations, giving the book an annoying elusiveness. Fans of Klein will want to catch up with what he's been doing in the years since, but novices should start somewhere else. (Nov.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
What could have been a maudlin, sentimental memoir in a time when that brand of book is the norm became a poetic tribute to resilience and creativity. A Lambda Literary Award-winning poet, Klein (1990) gives an episodic form to his memories rather than a chronological one, and rather than make himself the hero, he riffs on what has occurred in his life in a way that will provoke reflection. While it's true that many readers will not find his experience of bathhouses or fraternal incest familiar, most will be rewarded by Klein's amazing ability to integrate life and interpretation. His life has been difficult-dealing with alcoholism, familial mental illness, and the AIDS epidemic. The difference is that Klein makes sense of this life instead of turning it into clich or a nihilistic pit. He can also write eloquently about the great issues of friendship, love, and trust, making the specifics of his life applicable to any. Recommended.-David Azzolina, Univ. of Pennsylvania Libs., Philadelphia Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
From the Publisher
“Klein’s thoughtful writing reflects ongoing ruminations, so thought-provokingly personal yet universal that readers may pause occasionally to really absorb them.”—Booklist

“Klein’s prose style, like his poetry, is dreamy, allusive, repetitive in that way that admirers term ‘hypnotic.’”—Publishers Weekly

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780299188740
Publisher:
University of Wisconsin Press
Publication date:
10/22/2009
Series:
Living Out: Gay and Lesbian Autobiog
Edition description:
1
Pages:
152
Product dimensions:
5.00(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.50(d)

Related Subjects

Meet the Author

Michael Klein is an award-winning poet and author. His poetry collections 1990 and Poets for Life are winners of the Lambda Literary Book Award. He lives in New York City and teaches memoir writing in the summer program at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown.
 

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The End of Being Known 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Michael Klein's first memoir, 'Track Conditions' was a poem disguising as a memoir about the racetrack and thoroughbred racing and, not incidentally, a fractured past involving drug addiction and sexual abuse. His new book is even more poetic and pushes the envelope even further into trying to answer the riddle of sexual desire. It is spare, beautiful and terrifying at times and it's great strength is the fact that there is very little Klein is willing to look at or talk about. Brave AND artistic AND, surprisingly, a great read.