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Peter Kispert Books In Order

Publication Order of Collections

I Know You Know Who I Am (2020) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Publication Order of Short Stories/Novellas

Rorschach (2016) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Peter Kispert is a literary fiction author best known for his short fiction collection “I Know You Know Who I Am.” Kispert got his bachelor’s degree in English and Linguistics from the University of New Hampshire and his MFA in Creative Fiction Writing from Indiana University, Bloomington. He was then a tutor of undergraduate fiction at Indiana, where he also held fiction writing workshops and edited the Indiana Review. His work has been featured in a variety of publications including Slice magazine, OUT magazine, The Carolina Quarterly, GQ, Electric Literature’s Recommended Reading, Playboy and Esquire among many others. He is also an editor at American Short Fiction and HarperCollins. He currently lives in New York City.

As a gay author, Kispert was very much interested in aspects of the LGBTQ lifestyle, particularly about the closet. He believes that there is a treacherous gulf between self-acceptance and self-love and coming out which is, for the most part, a willingness to be seen as gay. In his work, he speaks very frankly of how many queer people are not aware of where they are while some lose themselves trying to navigate the dark space in between. Peter Kispert as a gay man has been on the journey and writes stories and characters based on his experiences and those of other people he has interacted with. For a long while, he struggled with feeling comfortable with himself and even felt like he was unworthy at times. Some of these aspects are drawn out somewhat in the different stories in his collection. There are aspects of lies of superiority, lies of loneliness, and lies of masculinity all of which are things that he has struggled with. For instance, he remembers making lies about having a lot of friends as a young adult when he did not have any. For most queer people, this is an almost reflex thing that may also have an element of compulsion. While he set out to write good stories, it turned out to be a cathartic experience putting everything he ever felt and anted to say on paper.

Peter Kispert’s “I Know You Know Who I Am” is a story of characters that construct an alternate reality, fudge the details a bit and then push the snowball creation downhill until it generates its own momentum. For instance, one character tries to impress his romantic partner by inventing an imaginary friend named Finn so that he can look normal. Peter’s experience is not that much different especially when it came to feelings of loneliness and wanting to fit in. In his first semester of graduate school, he felt incredibly lonely and then a compulsive need to do some tweaking of his reality. However, the novels are not a replica of his experiences as he introduces some comic elements to provide the lightheartedness to the stories that may sometimes have grave themes. Going from there, he noticed a pattern, particularly that he loved providing his characters with a lie, then a person to whom they could lie to for social proof. Afterward, he would give them all the tools and, in this way, he could write out his outline and then just flesh out each story.

“I Know You Know Who I Am” by Peter Kispert is an outstanding collection of characters that have created intricate untruths and who now need to deal with the way those deceptions have eaten away at the fabric of their relationships and lives. The drama starts right from the titular story where the narrator is struggling to save an affair on the verge of collapse. Desperate to save the relationship, he hires a thespian to act as his friend since he had invented one so that he would not be seen as a lonely loser. But his boyfriend is not easily fooled and discovers his reason for lying and confronts him. In the story “Aim for the Heart,” the narrator pretends to be a lover of hunting which backfires and leaves him with an unwieldy deer carcasses and painful memories of high school. “Rorscharch” tells the story of unrequited love as a producer makes a show where death row inmates reenact the crucifixion from the New Testament. The man ends up being haunted by the ghosts of his work. In the titular story of the collection, “I Know You Know Who I Am” the author showcases his dexterity as he explores performance and deception, and the uneasiness of being queer in a world that is not too accepting. He creates a darkly humorous, sympathetic portrait of characters desperate for connection and intimacy.

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