Cover image for The end of being known : a memoir
The end of being known : a memoir
Klein, Michael, 1954 August 17-
Publication Information:
Madison : University of Wisconsin Press, [2003]

Physical Description:
xii, 135 pages ; 23 cm.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PS3561.L349 Z465 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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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.

Author Notes

Michael Klein is an award-winning poet and author

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Klein uses his gifts as a poet well in these short memoirs, packing them with telling images and subtle nuances of sensation. The pieces are densely written examinations of emotions and sexual verities that often blur the lines between friend and lover, and between love, lust, yearning, and kindness. In prefatory remarks, Klein says he hoped that writing the book would help him understand sex and intimacy as he previously had not. In the memoirs, he voices his inner thoughts about being, like most of the alone, both funny and sad; about how, as a recovering alcoholic, to live sober; about being a twin whose brother is mentally unstable; and about the connection he had as a teenager with his twin's former girlfriend, which was so thorough, it transcended thought and feeling. Klein's thoughtful writing reflects ongoing ruminations, so thought-provokingly personal yet universal that readers may pause occasionally to really absorb them. --Whitney Scott Copyright 2003 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

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.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

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 (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Prefacep. ix
Something Else Is the Worldp. 1
A Wedding in the Skyp. 25
The End of Being Knownp. 45
A String of Variancesp. 67
Once, My Brotherp. 83
Fugue Lifep. 89
Anonymous Lifep. 99
A Resort for the Betrayedp. 119
A Dream: Who He Is Will Be Himp. 127