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The End of Being Known

A Memoir

Michael Klein

Publication Year: 2003

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.

Published by: University of Wisconsin Press


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pp. vii

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pp. ix-xii

I go back to Provincetown, Massachusetts, because my dear friend Gregg lives there and I always have a place to stay. Whenever I am on the crowded main summer street filled with Americans on vacation, I’m always reminded of how much I like the feeling of being sunburned and lost in a crowd at the same time and how the town runs way deeper for me than a tourist’s tan...

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Something Else Is the World

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pp. 1-23

We are talking about love (probable, impossible, dream), when Ruth, one of my straight woman friends (an editor at a publishing company that doesn’t make any money), tells me that the best way heterosexuals can serve mankind is to make more homosexuals. She likes homosexuals. Homosexuals are the gardening neighbors on the island where she goes for the summer...

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A Wedding in the Sky

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pp. 25-44

One night, some members of my tribe and I were sitting at a marble tabletop in a romantic restaurant, which meant that we couldn’t see each other. It was dark light, so we talked about love. Then we were talking about what it is like to have a specific love for someone you haven’t met yet. The context was that one of us wanted to adopt a child. I suddenly...

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The End of Being Known

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pp. 45-66

The sex with my twin brother began in the first lap after puberty. We were living near the park in New York City. I can still see the sun set behind the roofs that lead down to the Hudson River, but I can’t see the sex as well. I only remember the quality of it and how now it has become a sort of nuance whenever we get on the phone. Sex has given our life of brothers an intonation....

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A String of Variances

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pp. 67-82

My father loves my brother because they taste the same. Like alcohol. My father loves my brother because they both skip certain tracks of life. Like the empathy track—they skip that one a lot. There is something else that draws my father toward my brother like a lover, but I don’t know what it is. It’s a dream draw. I’m in the wake of my father and brother dreaming...

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Once, My Brother

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pp. 83-87

Once my brother was in a hospital. He walked around in a paper crown after the nervous breakdown. The crown was made by a group of fellow crazies who gave it to him because he used to let them circle around his bed at night and jerk off on him. The dirty light in the public ward made my brother look old. I didn’t have a lot of family around at that point to go...

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Fugue Life

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pp. 89-97

It happened sporadically at first. There would be a girl that my brother would have feelings for. Or that I would have feelings for. Or that he would have feelings for first, then me. Or me, then him—the girl caught in the limbo Kevin and I made. One of us would bring a girl home and make out with her as far as our body would let us—i.e., whatever didn’t involve real sex. The penis, for me anyway, was...

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Anonymous Life

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pp. 99-118

The summer I turned eighteen, I lived with a dancer on Mercer Street who didn’t know if she wanted to be with men, women, or anyone at all. I had gone through a period of wanting to be with everyone, but at the loft I began the stage of only wanting men. While there had been bisexuality once, I knew it was a multiple that would never add up. Having both sexes was like looking at an...

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A Resort for the Betrayed

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pp. 119-126

I see a lot of my childhood through water. Three pools. In one pool, I am setting the woods on fire with my twin brother. In another, I am watching my mother’s hair undulate into an island of dark smoke. And in the third pool, I am having sex with my stepfather—a shadow whose contours brighten around the continuous, because I instigate the sex to keep him from beating the shit out of me. In this...

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A Dream: Who He Is Will Be Him

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pp. 127-135

Sometimes, when there’s a chill in the air and the sun isn’t falling on everything the way it can in the height of summer in a boat, in a chair, in the aluminum afternoon, he longs for something else inside the love he already has for his life and the life of his new partnership. It’s not the outside love he wants. It’s something that almost hasn’t been expressed—the secret life, maybe, of...

E-ISBN-13: 9780299188733
Print-ISBN-13: 9780299188702

Publication Year: 2003