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Throughout this striking debut collection we meet characters who have lied, who have sometimes created elaborate falsehoods, and who now must cope with the way that those deceptions eat at the very fabric of their lives and relationships. In the title story, the narrator, desperate to save a love affair on the rocks, hires an actor to play a friend he invented in order to Throughout this striking debut collection we meet characters who have lied, who have sometimes created elaborate falsehoods, and who now must cope with the way that those deceptions eat at the very fabric of their lives and relationships. In the title story, the narrator, desperate to save a love affair on the rocks, hires an actor to play a friend he invented in order to seem less lonely, after his boyfriend catches on to his compulsion for lying and demands to know this friend is real; in "Aim for the Heart", a man's lies about a hunting habit leave him with an unexpected deer carcass and the need to parse unsettling high school memories; in "Rorschach", a theater producer runs a show in which death row inmates are crucified in an on-stage rendering of the New Testament, while being haunted daily by an unrequited love and nightly by ghosts of his own creation. In I Know You Know Who I Am, Kispert deftly explores deception and performance, the uneasiness of reconciling a queer identity with the wider world, and creates a sympathetic, often darkly humorous, portrait of characters searching for paths to intimacy, desperate for connection.


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Throughout this striking debut collection we meet characters who have lied, who have sometimes created elaborate falsehoods, and who now must cope with the way that those deceptions eat at the very fabric of their lives and relationships. In the title story, the narrator, desperate to save a love affair on the rocks, hires an actor to play a friend he invented in order to Throughout this striking debut collection we meet characters who have lied, who have sometimes created elaborate falsehoods, and who now must cope with the way that those deceptions eat at the very fabric of their lives and relationships. In the title story, the narrator, desperate to save a love affair on the rocks, hires an actor to play a friend he invented in order to seem less lonely, after his boyfriend catches on to his compulsion for lying and demands to know this friend is real; in "Aim for the Heart", a man's lies about a hunting habit leave him with an unexpected deer carcass and the need to parse unsettling high school memories; in "Rorschach", a theater producer runs a show in which death row inmates are crucified in an on-stage rendering of the New Testament, while being haunted daily by an unrequited love and nightly by ghosts of his own creation. In I Know You Know Who I Am, Kispert deftly explores deception and performance, the uneasiness of reconciling a queer identity with the wider world, and creates a sympathetic, often darkly humorous, portrait of characters searching for paths to intimacy, desperate for connection.

30 review for I Know You Know Who I Am

  1. 5 out of 5

    Cece (ProblemsOfaBookNerd)

    Average rating of all stories: 3.45/5 Final rating: 3/5 Longer review with full thoughts about each story to come! Thanks to Penguin Books for the free review copy. Update 5/18/20 So, some quick thoughts to explain why this longer review is the way it is. First of all, this collection is about 220 pages long and there are a total of 21 stories. This is mostly because about half of the stories are what would be considered flash fiction, short stories of 2 pages or less. I really struggled with these Average rating of all stories: 3.45/5 Final rating: 3/5 Longer review with full thoughts about each story to come! Thanks to Penguin Books for the free review copy. Update 5/18/20 So, some quick thoughts to explain why this longer review is the way it is. First of all, this collection is about 220 pages long and there are a total of 21 stories. This is mostly because about half of the stories are what would be considered flash fiction, short stories of 2 pages or less. I really struggled with these stories and felt they detracted from the overall message and theme. That is also why some of my reviews are going to be shorter than others. Basically, many of the stories started to blend together and so it is more difficult to differentiate how I felt about each individual story. I hope that explains a bit more where I'm coming from when I go into detail with these stories. Ok, with that out of the way let's jump into more detailed reviews! I KNOW YOU KNOW WHO I AM - 4/5 This is an interesting set up for the collection. I like the set up of a lie, one that once told can't be untold. And you can feel the anxiety lacing everything the main character does, which is super effective, even if you can't stand him and the little ways he makes life harder for himself. I think this opening story could have been stronger but it was solid enough to get me invested. PUNCTURE - 3/5 This felt too short to say much of anything. I like the setting of a scene, focusing intently on a single moment of intimacy that also is lacking in the basic necessary elements of an emotional connection. It's faux-intimacy, two people forced together who are pretending to feel at something even though one of them is miles away. I just wish the story had gone on a bit and said more than it did. (These are the exact notes I took when I read this, I wasn't aware yet of how many of the stories would be flash fiction). RIVER IS TO OCEAN AS ___ IS TO HEART - 4/5 I love the idea of this single lie being a defining moment. A snap decision can define you. And I also was very invested in this concept of a simple moment that will make people revert to how they thought of you before. It was mournful and difficult and the beginning of a story with much more lying still ahead. HUMAN RESOURCES - 3/5 Another extremely short story, this one only 2 pages long. Again, I like the idea of a snapshot of a moment but I don't know if this is the length for me, I don't know if flash fiction is my jam. There is the moment of connection, where one person remembers and the other doesn't, the chance at infidelity, a little peak into a mischievous past, but it wasn't long enough to do much. AUDITION - 4/5 Further into this collection I'm starting to see the themes and benefits of these interspersed bits of flash fiction. This is another first date, another failed evening that might lead to reluctant sex. I like this concept of Dating While Gay, these snapshots of reluctant encounters with men the characters don't like but who they'll probably lie to and sleep with anyway. It's an intriguing concept when you start to lay them all out together, even if it's a sad reflection on men dating men. HOW TO LIVE YOUR BEST LIFE - 4.5/5 Damn. DAMN. What does it say about my reading tastes that my favorite story in this collection is probably the only speculative one? This is a Black Mirror-esque horror story about a world where a game show can give you your best life - or you could be killed on national TV. It's horrifying and inventive and disturbing at every turn as this awful thing is so easily normalized in society. I loved this. PLEASE HOLD - 3.5/5 I liked the idea of this a lot, something horrible that the main character is ignoring overtaking a scene he's acting for a shitty made-for-tv special. I didn't fully get the backstory with the photographer boyfriend in surgery. This felt like it was trying to do too much at once, so it was overwhelming. But I loved the futility of this main character, the work he was doing and how unseen tragedy can be lurking. BE ALIVE - 3/5 I'm back to not vibing with the flash fiction, oops. I think it's maybe because I'm uncomfortable with age gaps. But also I just felt we didn't see enough of these characters. A 40-something dating an early 20-something just squicks me out and I didn't see the value of this, mixed with a throwaway line about the mc's brother attempting suicide. Did not super work for me, but there wasn't really enough to this story to fully care about these issues. BREATHING UNDERWATER - 3/5 I think the problem I'm having is that so many of these stories are so interchangeable. Too many of them are about just plain old compulsive liars, without variation. Lying compulsively to some guy and then it comes back to bite him in the end. This was a story of a random saving, a kid drowning and a character who has lied about his own swimming experience. It went just about exactly as predicted based on every story here. SIGNS - 2/5 Genuinely don't know what this story was supposed to be about. It's barely a page long, about death and some ashes that remain unscattered. I guess the lie is a white lie, a simple moment of saying "nothing" when you mean "something" but there was too much going on here and not enough to pick through to form a cohesive story. RORSCHACH - 4.5/5 I'm fucking obsessed with these stories about fascination with public death. I think there's such a horrifying human nature element to be explored there, the fact that at one point we gathered to watch death and that through some horrible means we could get there again. The last story like this played up an obsession with reality TV, this one played into the realism of a theatre production that blurs the line between fiction and reality. It's terrible and strange and impossible to look away from. Definitely a fan of this. GOLDFISH BOWL - 2.5/5 I think the driving point, the theme for the flash fiction stories in this second section lies in things unsaid. They end "I wanted to say" and "what I said instead". Quiet lies, lies of omission. Having said that, I just can't get much out of them. This followed mostly the same plot as any of these other stories, save for a paragraph on the first page that I thought might be a turning point. It was fine. Forgettable. Taxing, now that I'm this far into the collection and not enjoying a single one of the stories that appear between every longer story. DRIVING, DRIFTING - 3.5/5 A lesbian story! Surprised to see this, I had assumed every lead was a gay man. I wish I felt more for this. The writing was haunting and gorgeous, the details carefully and cruelly laid out. I think the plot threads felt disparate, unconnected but striving for connection anyway. I wish there was more here. MASTER'S THESIS - 3.5/5 I almost gave this a 4/5 but I can't get over the lack of an ending. I like this look at older gay men, along with a slight nudge at artists and their futile attempt to put meaning into work without really caring about consequences. It was a cool idea, it just felt like a half finished story that concluded in the middle of a thought. TOUCH POOL - 4/5 See, now, this is how I like to see intertwining narratives. THIS is a story that gives the necessary amount of space and time to each part of a moment, a character, a scene. This has three moments of time we are learning about in this one teenage boy's life. I think it's hopeless, it's about the cusp of adulthood and how much that shift reframes how you interact with the world. Super solid, I really enjoyed reading this. CLEARWATER - 4/5 This felt like it actually had a concrete story as a piece of flash fiction. A small inkling of a terminal disease, alongside the discovery of a set of ribs on the beach. It was beautifully described and I actually dug the end. It felt complete. I got the story, and the underlying layer of character building. Solid work. TOURNIQUET - 2/5 This was a paragraph long. Not even a full page. I'm unsure where the deception or falsehood is to be found in this story about mishearing a word in your youth and discovering its true meaning later on. I just didn't get enough of what was happening in a single paragraph's worth of story. IN THE PALM OF HIS HAND - 4/5 God this was hard to read but a really excellent entry. There are various plot elements here (a possible promotion, a depressed roommate, a lie about being religious to a hot dude) and it all mixes just perfectly. It's ominous and sad and bitter and just really good. I appreciate where the lie came from and how it played out. Just overall a well-written story. DOUBLE EDGE - This was really inventive and cool, much different from the other stories. I think there's still that theme here with the public viewing of death and danger, which is a great way to tie the collection together, but a strange quick snapshot of a sword swallower for the circus is a totally new idea to throw into the mix. I love the idea of disappearing and how it's done, alongside a neglectful relationship. I just vibe with this a lot. MOORING - 2.5/5 This was a continuation of sorts from the first story in the collection and I think I liked it far less for that. There are sudden shifts in POV that I found jolting and strange, and I disliked hearing again about the same lie. It felt sort of pointless, like spending a month of reading this collection left me right back where I started. Unfortunate way to close out these stories. Well, there you have it. Those are my thoughts about every single story in the collection. I had extremely high hopes for these stories and it was disappointing to feel let down a little bit more every day. Especially frustrating because there were some really shining moments where I could see the potential in this collection and from this author.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Kai

    Do you ever read a book and think, "I appreciate the writing, and I recognise that the storytelling is good, but I hate where this is going and I want out?" This sums up my experience with this book. I consider myself to be an honest person, especially when it comes to friends and family. I feel that I owe them the truth, even when it's uncomfortable. I think that honesty and trust are two pillars that a relationship needs, or it will inevitably crumble. So reading dozens of stories about people Do you ever read a book and think, "I appreciate the writing, and I recognise that the storytelling is good, but I hate where this is going and I want out?" This sums up my experience with this book. I consider myself to be an honest person, especially when it comes to friends and family. I feel that I owe them the truth, even when it's uncomfortable. I think that honesty and trust are two pillars that a relationship needs, or it will inevitably crumble. So reading dozens of stories about people that spin huge lies to keep their drowning relationships alive, fills me with dread. And I also feel that, after reading one or two stories about the said topic, I get the gist. I don't need another two or three. I think that's one of the issues I had with this collection. It was repetitive. The main characters were all gay and white men in unfulfilling relationships, and while I wished for more originality, I also wanted to see better representation. Even that one lesbian main character couldn't save it. Now, I don't think this was a bad book at all. I believe there were some genius stories in this collection. I just hated them. They were like the most hopeless kind of Black Mirror episodes. They make me face things that I do not want to think about - which can be a good thing, I admit. But in this case, their cruelty and hopelessness just pulled me down and gave me stomachache and anxiety. It proves that Kispert is a talented writer, but what he writes isn't necessarily my cup of tea. I'm excited to see what the future holds for the author, and I'm curious to find out whether he will release a novel and what it might be about. I cannot promise that I'll pick it up, though. If it's more on the gut-wrenching, despair-filled side, I might have to pass. Find more of my books on Instagram

  3. 4 out of 5

    Larry H

    Why do we lie? What is it that causes some of us to reinvent ourselves, our past experiences, responses to people or situations, or something else? And why is it so hard for some to acknowledge these lies, instead being forced to live with a falsehood, sometimes for years? The concept of lying is at the heart of Peter Kispert's debut short story collection, I Know You Know Who I Am . It was the object of much fanfare even before it was published in mid-February. In Kispert's collection, each st Why do we lie? What is it that causes some of us to reinvent ourselves, our past experiences, responses to people or situations, or something else? And why is it so hard for some to acknowledge these lies, instead being forced to live with a falsehood, sometimes for years? The concept of lying is at the heart of Peter Kispert's debut short story collection, I Know You Know Who I Am . It was the object of much fanfare even before it was published in mid-February. In Kispert's collection, each story centers around a lie that a character has told. In some cases it's a lie that was told in a split second, but in some cases, these lies have been carried around for months, sometimes years. How they handle these lies and convince others of their truthfulness poses an interesting dilemma for many of the characters in these stories. The one story in this collection I was completely enamored was the title story, which opens the book. In this one, a man, desperate to prove to his lover that he was a likable person with friends, hires someone to portray a friend whom he invented. Will the scheme work or will his lie be discovered? It's a taut, funny, slightly bittersweet story and Kispert did such a great job hooking me from the first few sentences. Unfortunately, for some reason, none of the other stories made me feel this way. Some of the stories are a page or two, so they were over before I was able to ascertain what they were about, while others I fully understood yet they seemed to hold me at some emotional distance, and I almost felt like I was reading them through some gauzy filter. Each story seemed to hint at something big but then never got there. I'm a big fan of short stories and I eagerly anticipated this collection, but it fell really short for me. I tried reading it over a few different days in case it was my mood or external factors that were distracting me, but each time my feelings were the same. I've seen others give this a phenomenal review, so I'd definitely encourage you to read this and not be dissuaded by my reaction. Check out my list of the best books I read in 2019 at https://itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com/2020/01/the-best-books-i-read-in-2019.html. Check out my list of the best books of the decade at https://itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com/2020/01/my-favorite-books-of-decade.html. See all of my reviews at itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com. Follow me on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/the.bookishworld.of.yrralh/.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Peter Kispert

    Finn told me he absolutely loved it.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Michael

    A solid, if repetitive, debut short story collection, I Know You Know Who I Am explores the different forms deceit can take in queer relationships. Save for one piece about a lesbian facing the loss of her father as a hurricane looms, all focus on bonds between white gay men fractured by lies. In the title story a man hires someone to be his fake friend to appear less lonely to his partner, and in the collection’s best a teen struggles to process his attraction to men while working a dreadful su A solid, if repetitive, debut short story collection, I Know You Know Who I Am explores the different forms deceit can take in queer relationships. Save for one piece about a lesbian facing the loss of her father as a hurricane looms, all focus on bonds between white gay men fractured by lies. In the title story a man hires someone to be his fake friend to appear less lonely to his partner, and in the collection’s best a teen struggles to process his attraction to men while working a dreadful summer job as a lifeguard. Alternating with these are surreal but forgettable tales sketching dystopian worlds marked by suffering. The sea, aspiring actors, and aging bodies appear across most stories, which blend into one another. Kispert writes direct prose that’s easy to read, and were he to expand his range he’d be more interesting.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Erik

    A collection that uses falsities to talk about truth and engages readers with a deeper connection of their own queer identities, "I Know You Know Who I Am" is a much needed first collection by Peter Kispert. Split into three parts, each story in this collection of short stories discusses the ways in which gay men are apt to use lies to fabricate parts of themselves in order to find love, be loved, and connect with others. As you can imagine, for many of the characters in these stories, the lies s A collection that uses falsities to talk about truth and engages readers with a deeper connection of their own queer identities, "I Know You Know Who I Am" is a much needed first collection by Peter Kispert. Split into three parts, each story in this collection of short stories discusses the ways in which gay men are apt to use lies to fabricate parts of themselves in order to find love, be loved, and connect with others. As you can imagine, for many of the characters in these stories, the lies stem from deeper insecurities, insecurities rooted in the traumas of growing up gay in a straight world. Unfortunately, a few of the stories have an oddly "Black Mirror"-esque feel to them, which is odd given that most of the stories do not feel dystopian. As a result, these few dystopian tales feel out of place. Otherwise, the coherency of these stories is remarkable in their individualize and yet overarching contribution to a singular foundational question: why do gay people tend to fabricate ourselves and what do these fabrications reveal about the masks we wear to prevent others from finding out our truths? Kispert makes a striking and thoughtful contribution to queer literature with this collection, and I am sure it will resonate with the many readers - gay and straight alike - who tell stories to mask their truths.

  7. 4 out of 5

    BookedByTim

    An excellent short story collection from a debut writer. At the heart of each of these stories is a gay character dealing with some kind of lie, whether its something they've created themselves or some other falsehood they must confront in order to move forward in their lives. It left me thinking about the intimate nature with which queer people are tied to lying - lying, at first, is how we protect ourselves, which can then lead to some kind of instilled duality between who we believe we actual An excellent short story collection from a debut writer. At the heart of each of these stories is a gay character dealing with some kind of lie, whether its something they've created themselves or some other falsehood they must confront in order to move forward in their lives. It left me thinking about the intimate nature with which queer people are tied to lying - lying, at first, is how we protect ourselves, which can then lead to some kind of instilled duality between who we believe we actually are and who we tell the world we are.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Darryl Suite

    I think this author is talented, but there is a sameness spread across the stories that was hard to ignore. All the characters were carbon copies of one another. They did the same things, had the same type of jobs, told the same lies, had the same backstories. Even the structure and setups of the stories were similar. I must say one of the last stories blew me away: 'In the Palm of His Hand,' a story about a man who pretends to be a devoted Christian in order to snag a boyfriend. Even though it I think this author is talented, but there is a sameness spread across the stories that was hard to ignore. All the characters were carbon copies of one another. They did the same things, had the same type of jobs, told the same lies, had the same backstories. Even the structure and setups of the stories were similar. I must say one of the last stories blew me away: 'In the Palm of His Hand,' a story about a man who pretends to be a devoted Christian in order to snag a boyfriend. Even though it followed similar beats to the others, there was something refreshing about this story. Everything worked. I wanted more of that. Overall, I didn't hate the collection, but it did feel a tad uninspired after awhile. 

  9. 4 out of 5

    Emma Eisenberg

    Fantastic, smart sexy story collection. A fascinating and modern look at queer life & love

  10. 4 out of 5

    Sebastian

    More like 2.5, but I was pretty disappointed, such a great cover and a very nice premise - stories of lies, trying to hide lies and being a victim of their destructive power. Nonetheless, despite exceptions, I could not care less about multiple of these stories. I was barely engaged, especially at the end.

  11. 4 out of 5

    WeiLe

    I have no idea what I'm reading, it didn't strike my interest at all. It's a compilation of short stories where the shortest is not even a page long. which make it a flash fiction. All these stories are built around the a theme: "to lie". I thought I'd give it a try and I only like 2 of the stories. I don't get the point of lying and why they've done it. I tried to bring myself to get something out of it but I just find it difficult. Probably this book is just not for me. I have no idea what I'm reading, it didn't strike my interest at all. It's a compilation of short stories where the shortest is not even a page long. which make it a flash fiction. All these stories are built around the a theme: "to lie". I thought I'd give it a try and I only like 2 of the stories. I don't get the point of lying and why they've done it. I tried to bring myself to get something out of it but I just find it difficult. Probably this book is just not for me.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Ryan

    This collection of short stories explores the intersection of identity and honesty, especially in queer lives. Throughout the book, the author writes stories where queer people lie in their ordinary lives with some funny, some tragic consequences. Identifying as a queer person is always a choice between the truth and a lie. While marginalized for decades, centuries gay people have learned to hide who they are just to survive and learn to lie with great success. Queer people don’t just lie about This collection of short stories explores the intersection of identity and honesty, especially in queer lives. Throughout the book, the author writes stories where queer people lie in their ordinary lives with some funny, some tragic consequences. Identifying as a queer person is always a choice between the truth and a lie. While marginalized for decades, centuries gay people have learned to hide who they are just to survive and learn to lie with great success. Queer people don’t just lie about their sexuality but they learn to lie about all aspects of their lives, sometimes not able to tell the difference between fiction and reality. These stories are written so well, they feel like they could be nonfiction, except the stories cover so many experiences and locations it’s impossible to be the stories of one person. But every story has a kernel of truth, and I found myself relating to a lot of these characters through these truths sprinkled throughout. I savored many of these stories, some haunting me after I was done reading. If you’re looking for a brief but powerful collection of short stories, pick up this debut collection from Peter Kispert. I will be looking out for whatever he writes next. ★★★★★ • Trade Paperback • Fiction - Literary, Short Stories, LGBT • Purchased at Books, Inc. Campbell, CA. • Published February 11, 2020 by Penguin Books. ◾︎

  13. 4 out of 5

    Paris (parisperusing)

    With I Know You Know Who I Am, Kispert tenderly draws back the veil of embarrassment and guilt gay men of all ages experience in moments of emotional inadequacy. Through a compilation of stories that find young men soliciting freedom in the lies they tell, mourning past and present relationships, daring to make contact with strangers and feigning masculinity with firepower, Kispert’s first collection benevolently exposes the most sensitive corridors of the human heart.

  14. 5 out of 5

    R. Eric Thomas

    This book is exceptional. The premise of this collection is so clever--stories about liars--that I wouldn't have even minded if it was a gimmick, but fortunately for me, for all of us, it's so far from it. Kispert probes, toys with, teases, and attacks the ideas of personal truth, deception (self and other), and lies from so many angles that, taken as a whole, the collection dazzles with its insight, its daring, and its breadth of talent. These are stories, also, about relationships, particularl This book is exceptional. The premise of this collection is so clever--stories about liars--that I wouldn't have even minded if it was a gimmick, but fortunately for me, for all of us, it's so far from it. Kispert probes, toys with, teases, and attacks the ideas of personal truth, deception (self and other), and lies from so many angles that, taken as a whole, the collection dazzles with its insight, its daring, and its breadth of talent. These are stories, also, about relationships, particularly queer interpersonal relationships, and the ways that he pulls apart complicated senses of self, of allegiance and attraction, and of identity is nothing short of extraordinary. I loved every single moment of reading this book. By the by, I read it just after reading Going Dutch by James Gregor, which I found to be an intriguing companion in terms of the ideas it wrestles with.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Kai

    This short story collection is very dull.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Deedi Brown (DeediReads)

    All my reviews live at https://deedispeaking.com/reads/. TL;DR REVIEW: I Know You Know Who I Am is a gripping collection of short stories about gay men who cannot stop lying. It will draw you in, churn you up, and spit you out in the best way. For you if: You are looking for a fantastic set of queer short stories that won’t leave you scratching your head, just feeling deeply. FULL REVIEW: I read a fair number of short story collections, often ones filled with stories that end weirdly or require some All my reviews live at https://deedispeaking.com/reads/. TL;DR REVIEW: I Know You Know Who I Am is a gripping collection of short stories about gay men who cannot stop lying. It will draw you in, churn you up, and spit you out in the best way. For you if: You are looking for a fantastic set of queer short stories that won’t leave you scratching your head, just feeling deeply. FULL REVIEW: I read a fair number of short story collections, often ones filled with stories that end weirdly or require some interpretation. I like that kind of story a lot, but I Know You Know Who I Am is (refreshingly for me this time) not like that. Each story is about realistic people in (for the most part) realistic conundrums of their own making. There are 21 stories of varying length in this 220-page book, some of which are only a single page long. It’s incredible what Kispert has managed to do in so few words, story after story. Each features a gay man protagonist, usually grappling with the consequences of a lie (or many lies) that he told. Some of these men are chronic liars, some have accidentally let the situation get out of control, some are just budding into early adulthood and trying to find their way, some lie out of survival or necessity. But every single one of them is fascinating and relatable. I’m not usually a fan of plots in the form of train wrecks you can’t look away from (they stress me out, lol), but in this case, I was constantly surprised by how invested I was in each story — no matter its length. That Kispert could create such a rich world in a (very) short story is, to me, the most impressive part about this book. And I was rooting for every single protagonist, even when their true colors were … less than great. I didn’t want it to end! “How to Live Your Best Life” is probably the story from this collection that will stick with me longest (please message me if you have read it lol I need to talk), but it’s impossible to pick favorites here. Peter Kispert will probably become an auto-buy author for me, just so I can learn from his craft. TRIGGER WARNINGS: Death / grief; Self-harm and suicide

  17. 4 out of 5

    BookChampions

    4.5 stars! Where most short story collections have more-or-less veiled threads tying them together, Peter Kispert's debut story collection, I Know You Know Who I Am, has some very obvious themes: namely the lies we tell each other. I'm curious to what extent Kispert's message is aimed at queer men—for they are the protagonists throughout—but queer readers will certainly have a lot to talk about here. Lying and betrayal are concepts that definitely resonate with me; visibility and honesty and ownin 4.5 stars! Where most short story collections have more-or-less veiled threads tying them together, Peter Kispert's debut story collection, I Know You Know Who I Am, has some very obvious themes: namely the lies we tell each other. I'm curious to what extent Kispert's message is aimed at queer men—for they are the protagonists throughout—but queer readers will certainly have a lot to talk about here. Lying and betrayal are concepts that definitely resonate with me; visibility and honesty and owning your voice, however flawed and cracked and inelegant, are constant touchstones for myself, in both my reading and teaching life. Yet we continue lie and hide over and over—from each other and ourselves as we, to quote Brené Brown, "hustle for our worthiness." Kispert sends up these questions in sometimes hilarious and always painfully awkward ways (case in point: the title story). A few, such as How To Live Your Best Life, are devastating. My two favourite stories were "Aim for the Heart" and the finale, "Mooring," which not only gave closure to the book but beautifully mirrors that excellent opener. A couple of the microfiction pieces were real head-scratchers, but I'd love to reread this book someday. And I would LOVE to read a novel if Kispert ever writes one. Reading these stories, I'm reminded of Kevin Wilson's underappreciated debut story collection, Tunnelling to the Center of the Earth, which seemed like these little experiments in storytelling. I would love to teach Wilson's book and now I can add Kispert's to my imaginary creative writing curriculum!

  18. 4 out of 5

    Christopher Alonso

    Peter Kispert's stories are unsettling in that they force you to face your own insecurities through the lies we tell ourselves and run with in our own lives. An eerie, stellar first collection. I can't wait to read more. Peter Kispert's stories are unsettling in that they force you to face your own insecurities through the lies we tell ourselves and run with in our own lives. An eerie, stellar first collection. I can't wait to read more.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Kyle Likens

    2.5 rounded up. Water and lying seemed to be the tying theme to these short stories / flash fiction, but hell if I know anything that connects them. There is some great potential in a handful of these stories ("In The Palm 9f His Hand", "How to live Your Best Life & "Rorschach" to be specific) while others ("Goldfish Bowl", "Signs) had absolutely no point, grace or merit found in them. What did work for me was Mr. Kispert's lovely use of language and curious, almost playful tone of voice when wr 2.5 rounded up. Water and lying seemed to be the tying theme to these short stories / flash fiction, but hell if I know anything that connects them. There is some great potential in a handful of these stories ("In The Palm 9f His Hand", "How to live Your Best Life & "Rorschach" to be specific) while others ("Goldfish Bowl", "Signs) had absolutely no point, grace or merit found in them. What did work for me was Mr. Kispert's lovely use of language and curious, almost playful tone of voice when writing about different, yet similar Gay relationships. I'm certainly interested in what he was up his sleve next but maybe this book just needs a re-read in a year's time. ( Also, I loved "Diving, Drifting & "Touch Pool)

  20. 5 out of 5

    Fran

    I won this book in a giveaway from the publisher and, I must admit, I could not finish it. I just didn't get it. In fairness to the author I have to say I've never been a big fan of short stories, however, the premise of this book intrigued me and I thought I would enjoy a bunch of short stories about people lying and having to live with those lies....I still think I would enjoy such a book....just not this one. I made it about a third of the way through the book and had to put it down because i I won this book in a giveaway from the publisher and, I must admit, I could not finish it. I just didn't get it. In fairness to the author I have to say I've never been a big fan of short stories, however, the premise of this book intrigued me and I thought I would enjoy a bunch of short stories about people lying and having to live with those lies....I still think I would enjoy such a book....just not this one. I made it about a third of the way through the book and had to put it down because it seemed that everything I had read was pretty pointless. Sorry.

  21. 5 out of 5

    rayne ♥ [ IG: rayne.reads ]

    I just won my first ever giveaway from goodreads, can't wait to read it! <3 I just won my first ever giveaway from goodreads, can't wait to read it! <3

  22. 5 out of 5

    Roxanne

    This is a unique plot about lying and creating falsehoods to get the outcome the person wants. But life is funny that way because that stuff usually bites a person in the butt.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Corny

    I tried to like this book but just couldn't. It seems more like a portfolio for a writer's workshop, a series of experiments gone awry, attempts that just didn't work. Several stories are no more than 2 pages, one is three paragraphs. They are mostly unfinished. All but one of the stories involve gay men, the one exception: a gay woman coming to attend her father's funeral but never showing up at the wake. Most involve some kind of lie or betrayal on the part of the protagonist, mostly because s I tried to like this book but just couldn't. It seems more like a portfolio for a writer's workshop, a series of experiments gone awry, attempts that just didn't work. Several stories are no more than 2 pages, one is three paragraphs. They are mostly unfinished. All but one of the stories involve gay men, the one exception: a gay woman coming to attend her father's funeral but never showing up at the wake. Most involve some kind of lie or betrayal on the part of the protagonist, mostly because said protagonist feels that he can't be his true self in front of his partner or date. There is a shared lack of self esteem among these men that actually gets tedious. I very much enjoyed the first story, titled the same as the book, where the main character actually hires an actor to substantiate a lie, one of many, that he has told his current lover. In the end that lover leaves him anyway, without discovering the lie. The story is well told and is universal in theme. "Mooring" the last story using the same characters as the first is equally engaging. Here the main character has made up a story about the death of his former lover when it is really his father who has just died. A very well written piece. But these are the exception -- the rest of the book takes on a certain sameness of theme, even when the author delves into some magical thinking as in "How to Live your Best Life" and " "Rorschach" Some of the stories start promisingly like "River is to Ocean.." and "Breathing Underwater" but I lost the point at the end. Couldn't we have had a little more flesh on these? In sum, I felt I was reading a work which needed both editing and weeding out. I am sure this author has a future but this collection left me disappointed.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Mary

    These stories so deftly explore degrees of deceit in relationships, but they're also about our desires (or fears) of being seen, the hope & vulnerability of intimacy. All of them are incredibly tender, show these characters longing for connection even when they're being bad—for example, hiring an actor to play the part of a close friend that doesn't exist to fool a sexy boyfriend. My favorite was "How to Live Your Best Life," where residents of an economically depressed neighborhood can compete These stories so deftly explore degrees of deceit in relationships, but they're also about our desires (or fears) of being seen, the hope & vulnerability of intimacy. All of them are incredibly tender, show these characters longing for connection even when they're being bad—for example, hiring an actor to play the part of a close friend that doesn't exist to fool a sexy boyfriend. My favorite was "How to Live Your Best Life," where residents of an economically depressed neighborhood can compete on a game show to win an expensive trip—or face death if it's proven their loved ones don't truly "know" them. It devastated me. But all of the stories are crafted with such care, including wonderful flash fiction palate cleansers between the longer pieces. A very enjoyable book.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Apoorv Moghe

    I Know You Know Who I Am | Peter Kispert | 14Jun2020 ------------------------- One-Sentence Review It's possible that I am dumb enough to not understand anything that any of these stories were trying to convey, but boy, was this was a bad "Black Mirror-esque" attempt to conform to the gay stereotype. --------------------------- Published/Pages : 11Feb2020 | 240 pages Location: New York City (New York), Indianapolis (Indiana), Laconia (New Hampshire), Chicago (Illinois), Cape Cod (Massachusetts), Bosto I Know You Know Who I Am | Peter Kispert | 14Jun2020 ------------------------- One-Sentence Review It's possible that I am dumb enough to not understand anything that any of these stories were trying to convey, but boy, was this was a bad "Black Mirror-esque" attempt to conform to the gay stereotype. --------------------------- Published/Pages : 11Feb2020 | 240 pages Location: New York City (New York), Indianapolis (Indiana), Laconia (New Hampshire), Chicago (Illinois), Cape Cod (Massachusetts), Boston (Massachusetts), Orlando (Florida), Maine Genre: Anthology, Short Stories, Realistic Fiction Characters: Ty, Troy, Kyle, Andy, Gavin, Emma etc. ------------------------------- Rating Analysis (Anthology) These are ratings only for the 13 full-fledged short stories in the book. There are 8 flash stories viz. "Puncture", "Human Resources", "Audition", "Be Alive", "Signs", "Gold Fish Bowl", "Clear Water", and "Tourniquet", none of which appealed to me to make any lasting impact, unfortunately. 😀 I Know You Know Who I Am: 4/5 - Relevant ☹️ River is to Ocean as __ is to Heart: 2/5 - Haphazard 😑 Aim for the Heart: 3/5 - Earnest 😊 How to Live Your Best Life: 4/5 - Intriguing 😕 Please Hold: 2/5 - Convoluted 🤔 Breathing Underwater: 3/5 - Potent 🙄 Rorschach: 2/5 - Confusing ☹️ Driving Drifting: 1/5 - Haywire 😬 Master's Thesis: 1/5 - Incomplete 😒 Touch Pool: 2/5 - Over-compensating 🤩 In the Palm of His Hand: 5/5 - Brilliant 😑 Double Edge: 2/5 - Irrelevent ☹️ Mooring: 1/5 - Pointless TOTAL: 32/65 (4.9 Stars = 2.45 Stars ~ ★★) -------------------------------- Reaction Section

  26. 5 out of 5

    Eric Mueller

    Having peaked at a few reviews before starting this book, I was not expecting to enjoy myself so much while reading this. Serves me write for reading reviews before the book, but I'm just glad this collection was excellent. Some reviewers claimed redundancy, a lot of lying, and couples in conflict, but that's most short story collections these days, and to read Kispert's take on these tropes while putting plenty of new ideas into the works was a fresh gust. This collection had an interesting jux Having peaked at a few reviews before starting this book, I was not expecting to enjoy myself so much while reading this. Serves me write for reading reviews before the book, but I'm just glad this collection was excellent. Some reviewers claimed redundancy, a lot of lying, and couples in conflict, but that's most short story collections these days, and to read Kispert's take on these tropes while putting plenty of new ideas into the works was a fresh gust. This collection had an interesting juxtoposition between nature and the entertainment industry. Both serve as backdrops to most of the stories, and it's interesting to see how the former is either a refuge, or a necessary variable in driving the plot forward, and the entertainment industry usually ends up affecting characters negatively. Nautical imagery compliments the nature with water giving life to the pages. My favorite stories are "How To Live Your Best Life," "Touch Pool," "River Is To Ocean...," and "Diving, Drifting." Seeing the queer characters in all of Kispert's stories and finding themselves in problems where they actually react like queer people do was really humanizing. Many queer folks grow up lying, to themselves, and others, about who they are. Fiction, in turn, is artifice, so to see the form and content work so well together, like a DNA helicase, is really impressive on the writer's end, and I look forward seeing what Kispert has up their sleeve for future works. Reading these, being so engrained in different characters, I was able to forget about quarantine, about the objective chaos on the news and in our government. I found myself connecting to people while holding this in my hand, myself included among those I reached out to.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Timothy

    This was an interesting collection of short stories. It should be noted that all of the stories' contain an element of LGBTQ+. Further, the main or recurring themes of all the stories seems to be that the protagonists have a tendency to lie and that the end results usually leave the characters depressed or lonely and, in at least one of the stories, suicidal. To be honest, there were some stories where I was having difficulty figuring out what had happened or why the story ended the way it did. T This was an interesting collection of short stories. It should be noted that all of the stories' contain an element of LGBTQ+. Further, the main or recurring themes of all the stories seems to be that the protagonists have a tendency to lie and that the end results usually leave the characters depressed or lonely and, in at least one of the stories, suicidal. To be honest, there were some stories where I was having difficulty figuring out what had happened or why the story ended the way it did. There were some stories that I thought were too short to get a full grasp of what was happening. Additionally, there was at least one story, "How To Live Your Best Life," that I thought would make a great book or TV show. It reminded me of a mix between Hunger Games, jeopardy and the movie Running Man. Overall, the characters and plots seemed well developed, but I wish that they were a little longer or there was more detail to them. As I said, the concept of lying seems to be a key component of many of the characters' relationships, which reminded me of an old saying "A relationship built on lies is like a house built on the sand. Neither has a solid enough foundation to survive a strong breeze." As a reminder, all of the stories have an element of LGBTQ+, so if you are not into that theme or influence, this is your warning; however, do not let that stop you from enjoying these short stories. **I received this as part of a Goodreads giveaway.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Ben Truong

    I Know You Know Who I Am is an anthology of twenty-one short stories written by Peter Kispert. It is a collection of short stories of characters that grapple with chaotic lives, troubled memories, and shifting identities. For the most part, it is an uneven collection of twenty-one short stories. I Know You Know Who I Am contains twenty-one short stories, which are written mediocrity well. Kispert's piercing debut collection features characters caught in ambivalence and deceit. The anthology is se I Know You Know Who I Am is an anthology of twenty-one short stories written by Peter Kispert. It is a collection of short stories of characters that grapple with chaotic lives, troubled memories, and shifting identities. For the most part, it is an uneven collection of twenty-one short stories. I Know You Know Who I Am contains twenty-one short stories, which are written mediocrity well. Kispert's piercing debut collection features characters caught in ambivalence and deceit. The anthology is separated into three sections of seven stories each with ten of the twenty-one stories are vignettes, serving as palate cleansers between the longer, more ambiguous pieces. Like most anthologies, there are weaker contributions, and I Know You Know Who I Am is not an exception. Perhaps it is the subject matter, but reading characters in the midst of deception or ambivalence is not my cup of tea, which could be one of the reasons that I feel ambivalent of this anthology. There are a few pieces that were outstanding, but overall the anthology just felt mediocrity done. All in all, I Know You Know Who I Am is a good, albeit uneven collection of short stories and vignette of trouble minds, shifting identities and of living lives of deceit and ambivalence.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Chad

    You can read my full-length review at The Queer Review Deception is the core theme running through the collection of tales. From the white lies that run out of control, to the lies we tell ourselves and grand untruths we try to hide behind. Many are incredibly brief, mere exercises in tone and colour, but the longer stories dissect the layers of deceit in many gay lives. A more interesting thread seen in some of the stories is that of a grim, heartless future built on the lies we tell ourselves as You can read my full-length review at The Queer Review Deception is the core theme running through the collection of tales. From the white lies that run out of control, to the lies we tell ourselves and grand untruths we try to hide behind. Many are incredibly brief, mere exercises in tone and colour, but the longer stories dissect the layers of deceit in many gay lives. A more interesting thread seen in some of the stories is that of a grim, heartless future built on the lies we tell ourselves as a modern society. Two futuristic stories combine cruelty and public entertainment, skewering the TV and theatre industries appetite for spectacle and the public lust for shock. Kispert pulls on some rich threads here and his ability to craft plausibly grotesque scenarios works well – from live theatrical crucifixions to a gameshow with deadly stakes. Something about both struck a frightening chord as we stare down the barrel of post-COVID-19 unemployment rates.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Cecilia

    decent. there were some good stories. there were some parts that were painful, in a good way. but no moments that resonated with me enough that I wanted to tuck them away and keep them forever. perhaps I’m just generally not a fan of anthologies, but I do think there were some stories in here that were unnecessary. it just wasn’t, in my opinion, a wonderfully curated collection. I think it would’ve been more powerful if it was only one or even a few of the stories cultivated into a novel. it’s diff decent. there were some good stories. there were some parts that were painful, in a good way. but no moments that resonated with me enough that I wanted to tuck them away and keep them forever. perhaps I’m just generally not a fan of anthologies, but I do think there were some stories in here that were unnecessary. it just wasn’t, in my opinion, a wonderfully curated collection. I think it would’ve been more powerful if it was only one or even a few of the stories cultivated into a novel. it’s difficult to get the same amount of depth with stories. I also would’ve appreciated a little perspective from the people being deceived because I think that experience brings very powerful feelings. but maybe the singular purpose of this novel is to show the viewpoint of the people who get wrapped up in telling lies. if that’s the case, though, I don’t feel as though this gave me a deeper understanding of their thinking. perhaps my takeaway from this is just that I don’t care for anthologies and I really do not understand why people can not simply be straightforward and honest.

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