More I Know You Know Who I Am news, reviews, & book recs!

I’m thrilled to share these two very kind reviews of I Know You Know Who I Am, in Publisher’s Weekly and Kirkus Reviews. Also flattering to see the book make lists, like this great one of most anticipated 2020 books at Read It Forward. If you’re so inclined, I’d love if you would pre-order from your local independent bookstore here.

I’m currently teaching a workshop at Catapult and really enjoying the class and students and their great work. What a true honor and pleasure.

At American Short Fiction, I interviewed Danielle Lazarin, author of the brilliant story collection Back Talk.

I’ve been deep in some stories and essays the past few months but mostly, amazingly, the novel, which has really started to take shape. Can’t say too much about the project just yet, but I took a few weeks off work to make headway, which has — also amazingly — yielded some (I think!) strong pages.

In other somewhat obnoxious I-can’t-talk-about-it-yet updates, I got some incredible news last week that I’m over the moon about. Excited for it, and to share that when I can.

Finally, an incomplete list of books I recently loved and that you likely will too: the essay collection Here for It by R. Eric Thomas (out in Feb), the story collection You Will Never Be Forgotten by Mary South (also out in Feb!), Women and Honor by Adrienne Rich, In the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado, Black Light by Kimberly King Parsons, We Love Anderson Cooper by R. L. Maizes, and The Illness Lesson by Clare Beams, who I will be interviewing (about her recently Bard Fiction Prize-winning collection We Show What We Have Learned) for American Short Fiction!

 

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I Know You Know Who I Am now available for pre-order! (& look at this cover!)

I am so excited to show you the cover for my story collection I Know You Know Who I Am, which will publish on February 11, 2020. Many thanks to the totally brilliant John Gall, who has designed many of my favorite covers, for giving this book such a sharp, colorful look.

I Know You Know Who I Am is now available for pre-order in paperback, e-book, and audio formats through your local indie bookstore here.

I edited and rewrote a good amount of the book last fall, and I’m really proud of its final form. Huge thanks to my editor and agent, Victoria and Caroline, for their brilliance and insight and patience.

Some more generous praise has come in, and I really couldn’t be more honored–

“This debut collection has a wisdom and a tapestry of language far beyond the author’s years. Loosely linked unreliable narrators remind us that we might find religion in the most unlikely places — such as the space between a truth and a lie. Kispert is unequivocally a writer to watch.” —Jodi Picoult, #1 New York Times bestselling author of A Spark of Light and Small Great Things

“Engrossing, unsettling, full of characters in search of their place in the world, I Know You Know Who I Am reminds me in the best possible way of the debut collections of Mary Gaitskill and Adam Haslett, in tone and talent and the promise of what will come next.” —David Ebershoff, New York Times bestselling author The Danish Girl and The 19th Wife

“If I could give the characters in Peter Kispert’s expansive, funny, and moving collection the forgiveness and recognition they seek, I would do so whole-heartedly. These unforgettable stories look head on at the spectacles we make of our lives and the impossibility of turning away from them. A talent to watch.” —Danielle Lazarin, author of Back Talk

Some more books I’ve read and loved since last posting, in no particular order: Bunny by Mona Awad, Man & Wife by Katie Chase, Circe by Madeline Miller, Lima :: Limón by Natalie Scepters-Zapico, The Editor by Steven Rowley, The Light Years by Chris Rush, The Rose City by David Ebershoff, The Caregiver by Samuel Park, Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue, Certain American States by Catherine Lacey, Writing Your Name On the Glass by Jim Whiteside, Going Dutch by James Gregor, and Twyla Tharp’s The Creative Habit.

More to come soon. Excited and nervous and stocking my freezer with many pints of cookies & cream Haagen Dazs.

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I KNOW YOU KNOW WHO I AM coming from Penguin Books!

I am so thrilled to announce that my story collection I KNOW YOU KNOW WHO I AM is coming from Penguin Books. Huge thanks to my genius, patient agent Caroline at Frances Goldin and my wonderful editor Victoria, and the whole team at Penguin. This is a dream come true, as cliche as that sounds. (So cliche in fact I nearly typed out the phrase “dream cliche.”) Per the announcement, the book is about queer characters searching for paths to intimacy, often deceiving others and themselves in an attempt to navigate their own vulnerability. (Mary Gaitskill and I share a sentence in that announcement, to give a sense of my thrill.) I wrote and workshopped the title story my first semester of the MFA, back in Fall 2013, which feels like (and I guess was?) ages ago.

And a little (very generous!) advance praise from some truly stunning writers:

“Peter Kispert’s dazzling collection is a reminder that the best fiction tells lies in order to discover truth. Here is a confident, psychologically astute new writer with  a bold new vision.”
—Garrard Conley, author of Boy Erased (watch the trailer for the movie, just out today–it will break your whole heart)

“Sometimes you read a collection and you wonder how a mere mortal wrote it because the language is so pure, the depth of emotion so profound—Peter Kispert is a wizard, creating a collection of liars and lies that will ring true in the heart of any reader. A tour de force: read this book.”
—Nick White, author of How to Survive a Summer and Sweet & Low

“Lashed by years and bound by love, the liars in this incredible debut punish themselves as their compulsions and betrayals tremble across time. Cut crosswise, their lives show these pathologies at work, just as hard and irradiating, superheated and sad, as the prose in which they’re rendered. Above all, it is Kispert’s immense talent that we come to understand, and even love, who they are.”
—Patrick Nathan, author of Some Hell

I also had the honor of speaking with Bryan and Doug, founders of Big Gay Ice Cream, and writing this profile over at GQ. They’re nearing a decade of slinging some weird cones with adventurous flavors. Like Cheeto, which is gross but apparently amazing, “gross but apparently amazing” being not quite enough to lure me into biting, as I do not eat cheese-like product, let alone real cheese. But go for it, if that’s your thing. (Weird though, to be honest, if you have not tried this and think on reflex–that’s my thing!) Anyway, click that link, if only for the gorgeous photos. Which for the record I did not take!

More news soon, but for now I’m back to a story (OK, a first paragraph) I abandoned a few weeks ago. Two teens in their sleeping bags but not sleeping, in a hot basement on a rainy summer night. Pellets of hail against an air conditioner. I have an attitude toward this paragraph that I’m in earnest trying to find in life.

A kind of deep-breath faith. Let’s see where this goes.

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New work in Playboy, Esquire, Joyland — & Books!

I am very happy to have published these two pieces in Esquire and Playboy — and to have received some really moving responses from readers. Both of those cover images are really great, too. Big thanks to Tyler, Shane, Nate, the editors.

Playboy is doing some awesome work in the LGBT space and recently won an award for its diversity and inclusivity, which is cool to see.

Also, very happy to have stories in Joyland Magazine and Devil’s Lake. Thank you, Kyle and Carrie! I have long been a fan of both journals.

I am a fiction mentor in The Adroit Journal‘s Summer Mentorship Program. Very excited to start working with my talented mentee soon.

The past years have been spent reading and working with books. And writing my own books, stories, and essays. My wonderful literary agent Caroline Eisenmann at Frances Goldin really gets my projects and is just brilliant.

Here is a short list of things I loved since my last post:

–Danielle Lazarin’s excellent collection Back Talk
–This incredible Grace Jones documentary
–The movie Moana, which made me cry, and then made me angry that no one had told me it was so moving, which is ridiculous
–The feeling when I realize I have read some great book outside until it is too dark to read anymore (most recently this happened with the truly great book Guapa by Saleem Haddad in Central Park)
–Port wine in teacups
This clip of Nadia Bolz-Weber detailing the virtues of forgiving assholes
–Regifting my collected unused moleskines to writer friends who will in two years do the same thing because these are decorative writer accessories not actual journals
–Reconnecting with family after years of estrangement
–Opening the windows during a summer downpour in NY
–All the other great books I’ve read — too many to name here, but some standouts: Less by Andrew Sean Greer, The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin, The House of Impossible Beauties by Joe Cassara, The Queen of the Night by Alexander Chee, Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Machado, Made for Love by Alissa Nutting, Marlena by Julie Buntin, Brotopia by Emily Chang, Romeo and/or Juliet by Ryan North, Some Hell by Patrick Nathan, and Emerald City by Jennifer Egan, which, if you can believe it, moved me even more deeply than Moana
–Writing what I needed, need, and want to

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OUT Magazine, Indiana Review, Electric Literature, & Columbia University Publishing: Big Changes!

I’m glad to have my essay, “How My Severe Acne Helped Me Love My Queerness,” appear in OUT Magazine. Big thanks to Jesse Steinbach, who is an incisive editor. My struggle with cystic nodule acne is something I’ve wanted to write about for a while.

Leaving the Indiana Review offices for the last time was difficult. I’m excited to see the first Blue Light Book prize winner Andrea Lewis‘s WHAT MY LAST MAN DID (a smart, curmudgeonly, deeply empathic linked story collection) made into an object as beautiful as its disarming prose.

And so it is nice to be back at Electric Literature as a senior reader for Recommended Reading. Editor Halimah Marcus is a genius, and I’m glad I get to learn a bit more, hearing her talk about narrative and story.

And I have my story “Rorschach,” to do with performed modern-day crucifixion, coming in Day One–thanks to the totally brilliant Morgan Parker!

Also: I’m living in New York now. Upper West Side. I love the city. What else is there to say?

I was honored to have been admitted to the Columbia University Publishing Course and am enjoying it. Soon I’ll be applying for positions, and despite what seems a commonly prevailing pessimism about the industry I remain very optimistic.

 

 

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News, My Gay Voice, & Finishing Up at Indiana Review

My essay “Hey, I’m Peter: On Living with a Gay Voice” is now up at Salon. Many thanks to the brilliant Kim Brooks for helping me achieve the essay’s final structure. I’m so proud of the support for this discussion, and grateful to Towleroad and the documentary “Do I Sound Gay?” for recommending the piece, as well as the many folks who read, commented, emailed, and shared. I’m very interested in “passing privilege,” and how this privilege can manifest in problematic logic, social cache, advantage that can come at great personal cost.

I have two new short stories out, in the most recent issues of The Carolina Quarterly and South Dakota Review! Both are beautiful issues full of work and company I’m honored to be around.

It’s hard to believe my tenure as editor-in-chief of Indiana Review is up in two months. The thought enters my mind occasionally and I swat it away. That’s becoming harder to do. I have so loved (I so love!) the job, the staff, the reading, the making.

 

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Indiana University Profile, Publication, & Ploughshares News

I’m honored to have stories in the coming issues of South Dakota Review and The Carolina Quarterly. Big thanks to the editors at these journals (especially Lee Ann Roripaugh and Rae Yan) for believing in these stories. Fingers crossed for more good news soon–very kind and encouraging rejections from American Short Fiction, The Kenyon Review, and West Branch have me feeling hopeful!

I was profiled by Indiana University for their Arts at IU feature, which was very cool. Thanks to all at the Newsroom for letting me talk about Indiana Review‘s exciting new book prize partnership with Indiana University Press. Thanks to Tori Lawhorn and Sarah Jacobi in particular.

I’m writing a lot and more seriously recently, by which I guess I mean that I’ve been sleeping poorly in order to get this writing done.

At Ploughshares, I wrote about the recent opening of Amazon Books in Seattle, Vintage Books’s promising new Hogarth series, Amazon’s action against fraudulent product reviews, McDonald’s Happy Reader initiative, the life-saving genius of the Drinkable Book, Adam Johnson’s $9K short story, the University of Akron Press’s (now, and thankfully, former) shuttering, why Go Set a Watchman may have been better unpublished, Stephen King’s exclusive audio short story, why the gay fable King & King matters, and the awesome new literary venture Catapult.

In somewhat writing-related news, I have a new author headshot, which I’ve importantly included in this post. PeterKispertHeadshot

I graduate in May and so am starting the job hunt. I’m also applying to a publishing program. In any case, I’m keeping my mind and options open, and my fingers crossed!

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Indiana Review, Sara Novic Interview, Ploughshares News

I’m now the Editor-in-Chief of The Indiana Review! We’re up to some very exciting stuff. More on that soon. Our new issue is out. IR 37.1 is stunning and full of big-hearted work by such favorite talents as Vincent Scarpa, Halimah Marcus, Corey Van Landingham, Sarah Crossland, Janelle DolRayne, sam sax, Richard Siken, and a cast of great others. Get yours here.

I have an interview with the brilliant Sara Novic in which we talk about her truly stunning debut novel GIRL AT WAR (Penguin Random House) in Slice Magazine.

Over at Ploughshares, I wrote about the recent protest of the Chinese Delegation at BookExpo America, Author Solutions’ author problems in what may become a class-action lawsuit, the book bans North Carolina and Idaho recently faced, Penguin Random House’s stunning new website–and more to come soon!

Also, The Paris Review followed me on Twitter (!), and I’m going to get this tweet tattooed on my forehead:

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AWP, Indiana Review, Ploughshares, & Day One!

In just a few hours I’ll be headed to AWP Minneapolis, where I’ll be tabling for The Indiana Review (table 332!), buying more literary journals than I responsibly should, seeing many writer friends and colleagues, and attending some cool events. Looking forward to my annual affliction, AWP totebag handburn.

I’m excited to have my story, “Puncture,” appear in Ninth Letter! You can read it here. And no, it’s not at all based on something that happened to me last April; I don’t know what you’re talking about.

I’m also thrilled to have my story, “This Will Only Hurt a Little Bit,” forthcoming in Day One. Carmen Johnson, an editor at Day One, is just phenomenal. What an honor to work with her again.

At Ploughshares, I wrote about the cost of higher minimum wage for bookstores, the Smithsonian’s new artist’s books initiative, the controversial Clean Reader app., & Barnes & Noble’s new shopping bags. And more to come shortly!

In just a month I’ll be stepping up as the next Editor-in-Chief of The Indiana Review. I’m so excited, though the amazing Britt Ashley has left me big shoes to fill. I’ve got some exciting things in the works, and I’m really looking forward. Check out how great IR is right here.

Some potentially very cool things in the works–more soon!

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Indiana Review, Blogging, & Story Collection

Over at The Indiana Review, I interviewed the incredible Elizabeth Eslami. Liz is just a marvel, and her responses are engaging and illuminating. What a treat to have her spend some time answering questions about her process, her forthcoming novel, and, of course, how she believes in magic.

At Ploughshares, I wrote about Melville House‘s decision to reprint the Senate Torture Report as a book and the Man Booker Prize’s recent rule changes.

I had some very close calls with the collection after having only queried a few amazing editors and agents, but I think I’m heading back to work on it instead of casting out more lines, for now. I’m confident in the pieces but want to be absolutely sure it’s as strong as I can make it. So, I will be sending out I KNOW YOU KNOW WHO I AM again in a few months after a pretty intense inspection and polishing of it. I’m looking forward and have my fingers crossed!

Two stories out in the world right now, awaiting response from some of my favorite journals. Radio silence so far–here’s hoping no news is (tentatively) good news.

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