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LoraM

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First Person

by Richard Flanagan

 

Penniless Tasmanian writer Kif Kehlmann is hired to ghost write a memoir for a corporate criminal, Siegfried Heidl, in six weeks. His research to write the autobiography takes a frustrating form when his subject is reluctant to answer questions that might only further incriminate him when he's already facing prison.

 

The need for money keeps Kif on board, even when his better judgement tells him to walk away. The story is told in first person, in a style reminiscent of old detective noir, yet portraying a man who was anything but in control of his own destiny.

 

The story takes a while to get to the meat, but slowly Kif starts getting inside the mentality of a professional con man who doesn't really want the actual details of his life story displayed so much as a comfortable fiction that will serve his purposes.

 

As the struggle to glean details goes on, Kif starts to question everything he thinks he knows about his world, even who he is, why he got married, how he feels about having children and why he calls himself a novelist when he's never managed to finish a novel. Worse, Heidl begins to tell the truth.

 

This is a real psychological mind bender that falls into place gradually, the details of what physically happens secondary to the play on perceptions. I found it interesting, but depressing.