The End of Being Known: A Memoir
Book: The End of Being Known: A Memoir , by Michael Klein, ISBN10: 0299188744, ISBN13: 9780299188740, University of Wisconsin Press, October 2009, Paperback
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.
Written in poet Michael Klein’s uniquely passionate, unapologetic but humble 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, yet finding meaning by piecing together personal examples of universal themes such as learning, through trial and error, about love and life.
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.
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