Kispert, Peter. “I Know You Know Who I Am: Stories”, Penguin, 2020.
Using Lies to Get to the Truth
Peter Kispert’s collection of short stories reminds us “that fiction tells lies in order to discover truth.” We have stories about characters who have lied, who have sometimes made up elaborate falsehoods, and who now must deal with how those deceptions influence the fabric of life. Kispert examine ideas of personal truth, deception (self and other), and lies with insight. The stories are about relationships, particularly queer interpersonal relationships, the sense of self, loyalty attraction, and identity.
All of the stories reflect on an aspect of the LGBTQ community and use themes about lies that often affect the leave characters and cause them to be depressed, lonely, and, in at least one of the stories, suicidal.
The concept of lying is a key component of many of the characters’ relationships as well as the ideas about our wish and fear of being seen and the vulnerability of intimacy. They are tender with characters longing for connection.
What happens to us when we lie in relationship? Kispert explores deceit in excellent and smart prose. While the protagonists are gay, the truths they share are for everyone without regard to gender and/or sexual orientation.
Kispert looks at “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.” He shows that we hide the truth because being seen means to risk everything. The liars here punish themselves and their lives show lies at work.