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First Person: A novel
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Published:
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group 2018
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Description
Kif Kehlmann, a young, penniless writer, thinks he’s finally caught a break when he’s offered $10,000 to ghostwrite the memoir of Siegfried “Ziggy” Heidl, the notorious con man and corporate criminal. Ziggy is about to go to trial for defrauding banks for $700 million; they have six weeks to write the book.
 
But Ziggy swiftly proves almost impossible to work with: evasive, contradictory, and easily distracted by his still-running “business concerns”—which Kif worries may involve hiring hitmen from their shared office. Worse, Kif finds himself being pulled into an odd, hypnotic, and ever-closer orbit of all things Ziggy. As the deadline draws near, Kif becomes increasingly unsure if he is ghostwriting a memoir, or if Ziggy is rewriting him—his life, his future, and the very nature of the truth.
 
By turns comic, compelling, and finally chilling, First Person is a haunting look at an age where fact is indistinguishable from fiction, and freedom is traded for a false idea of progress.
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Format:
Adobe EPUB eBook, Kindle Book, OverDrive Read
Street Date:
04/03/2018
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780525520030
ASIN:
B073YT6HC1
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Citations
APA Citation (style guide)

Richard Flanagan. (2018). First Person: A novel. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.

Chicago / Turabian - Author Date Citation (style guide)

Richard Flanagan. 2018. First Person: A Novel. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.

Chicago / Turabian - Humanities Citation (style guide)

Richard Flanagan, First Person: A Novel. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, 2018.

MLA Citation (style guide)

Richard Flanagan. First Person: A Novel. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, 2018. Web.

Note! Citation formats are based on standards as of July 2010. Citations contain only title, author, edition, publisher, and year published. Citations should be used as a guideline and should be double checked for accuracy.
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Date Added:
Jun 12, 2018 15:40:20
Date Updated:
Dec 06, 2020 02:41:23
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Jun 26, 2022 07:04:25
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      • bioText: RICHARD FLANAGAN's novels, Death of a River Guide, The Sound of One Hand Clapping, Gould's Book of Fish, The Unknown Terrorist, Wanting, and The Narrow Road to the Deep North, for which he was awarded the 2014 Man Booker Prize, are published in 42 countries. He lives in Tasmania.
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publishDate
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title
First Person
fullDescription
Kif Kehlmann, a young, penniless writer, thinks he’s finally caught a break when he’s offered $10,000 to ghostwrite the memoir of Siegfried “Ziggy” Heidl, the notorious con man and corporate criminal. Ziggy is about to go to trial for defrauding banks for $700 million; they have six weeks to write the book.
 
But Ziggy swiftly proves almost impossible to work with: evasive, contradictory, and easily distracted by his still-running “business concerns”—which Kif worries may involve hiring hitmen from their shared office. Worse, Kif finds himself being pulled into an odd, hypnotic, and ever-closer orbit of all things Ziggy. As the deadline draws near, Kif becomes increasingly unsure if he is ghostwriting a memoir, or if Ziggy is rewriting him—his life, his future, and the very nature of the truth.
 
By turns comic, compelling, and finally chilling, First Person is a haunting look at an age where fact is indistinguishable from fiction, and freedom is traded for a false idea of progress.
reviews
      • premium: True
      • source: Kirkus
      • content:

        February 1, 2018
        Tasmanian novelist Flanagan follows up his Man Booker winner (The Narrow Road to the Deep North, 2014, etc.) with a meditation on the shifting sands of identity and reality.Fledgling writer Kif is hired in 1992 to crank out the memoirs of Ziggy Heidl, who defrauded investors of $700 million through an Australian shell company. They have six and a half weeks to produce a manuscript before Heidl's trial--after which, says cynical Melbourne publisher Gene Paley, "He'll be going to jail for a very, very long time." Kif desperately needs the $10,000 fee: his wife, Suzy, is pregnant with twins, and they're barely scraping by with odd jobs while he struggles to write his first novel. Apart from the proper names, the plot's premises track closely with Flanagan's personal experience a quarter-century ago as ghostwriter for a notorious Australian con man. Their fictional elaboration, unfortunately, is problematic. Heidl is a cipher, and although Flanagan strains mightily to make this blankness the basis of his fraudulent success, with some philosophical riffs about how people faced with a lack of information will make up their own stories, it doesn't ring true. Kif's panicked fear that he is a failure as a writer is painfully plausible, as are his increasing marital problems as he takes out on Suzy his rage with Heidl for refusing to provide even the most minimal information about his past or his scams. But none of this connects persuasively with ominous warnings about Heidl's ability to insert himself into other people's psyches. The novel does improve in its closing chapters, with sharp vignettes about Kif's subsequent career in Australian television and an acid assessment of the 1990s as "some universal collapse of values that was also the beginning of the acceptance of a new violence and a new injustice." If only the much lengthier chapters inflating Heidl's political and metaphysical significance were as apt and pointed.Ambitious and stuffed with ideas that, regrettably, don't translate into compelling fiction.

        COPYRIGHT(2018) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

      • premium: True
      • source: Publisher's Weekly
      • content:

        February 5, 2018
        This harrowing if unsubtle story of insidious corruption is a combination of satire, tragicomedy, melodrama, and polemic from Flanagan, winner of the Man Booker for The Narrow Road to the Deep North. Narrator Kif Kehlmann is a desperate man. Determined to finish his first novel, nearly destitute, and responsible for a toddler daughter and a wife pregnant with twins, he agrees to take a job that seems too good to be true. If he can ghostwrite the autobiography of a notorious Australian con man convicted of embezzling $700 million, he’ll earn $10,000; if he fails to complete the contract in six weeks, however, he’ll get nothing. The noxious criminal, Siegfried Heidl, is a brutal, repulsive embodiment of evil. He refuses to provide the details Kif needs, but asks intrusive questions about Kif’s family. The menacing tone established early on loses momentum as Kif struggles and fails to get facts from Heidl, while realizing he’s losing his own moral probity in a Faustian bargain. Flanagan is sharply satiric about Australia and its publishing industry, political chicanery, and corporate malfeasance; the heavy Australian focus, however, may be a stumbling block to American readers not already familiar with the terrain. 50,000-copy announced first printing.

      • premium: True
      • source: Booklist
      • content:

        Starred review from March 1, 2018
        Flanagan's (The Narrow Road to the Deep North, 2014) acerbic exploration of how the contemporary world came to be defined by lies, deceit, and obfuscation is set in Australia just after the recession of 1992. The narrator is Kif Kehlmann, a struggling writer whose wife is about to give birth to twins. Through Ray, a childhood friend, Kif is hired to ghostwrite the biography of Siegfried Ziggy Heidl, a man who is going to be imprisoned in six weeks for stealing $600 million from banks. Reluctantly, Kif leaves his heavily pregnant wife in Tasmania to work with Ziggy in Melbourne. Ziggy is, at best, a willfully difficult subject, and, in a brilliant satire of the industry, Kif must essentially invent a version of him on the page to appease the absurd publisher, Gene Palley. As Ziggy starts to intrude on Kif's sense of self and his life, the reader is left unsure of who or what to believe. In a brilliant third act, Flanagan turns his savage mockery to the recent trend of autobiographical fiction, including the celebrated, multivolume My Struggle (English translation 2012-2016) by Norwegian writer Karl Ove Knausgaard. Full of hilarious asides, this sonorous, blackly comic novel offers searing insight into our times.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2018, American Library Association.)

      • premium: True
      • source: Library Journal
      • content:

        February 15, 2018

        In Thus Spoke Zarathustra, Friedrich Nietzsche introduced the concept of an Ubermensch, referencing individuals who create their own values and affect history indefinitely by their mere existence. Here, in his first novel since the Man Booker Prize-winning The Narrow Road to the Deep North, Flanagan pens such a figure in Siegfried Heidl, an Australian con man on trial for bilking the banking industry out of millions of dollars. Floundering as a novelist and struggling to support his family, Kif Kehlmann agrees to ghostwrite the mercurial Heidl's memoir. Though patiently and persistently cutting through his lies and half-truths, Kif falls under the spell of the charismatic felon and soon finds his own narrative begin to blur with Heidl's fallacious stories and philosophy. Based on Flanagan's own experience as the ghostwriter for John Friedrich, famously known as Australia's greatest con man, the novel reads like a thinly veiled autobiography with a psychological thriller veneer. VERDICT Though sections of the novel demonstrate Flanagan's mastery of descriptive writing, its entirety suffers from tonal incongruity and a denouement with little impact. Readers who enjoyed Chuck Palahniuk's Fight Club will find similar themes here. [See Prepub Alert, 10/22/17.]--Joshua Finnell, Colgate Univ., Hamilton, NY

        Copyright 2018 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

      • premium: True
      • source: Library Journal
      • content:

        November 15, 2017

        Struggling writer Kif Kehlmann is broke, so of course he accepts an offer to ghostwrite the memoir of corporate bad guy Siegfried Heidl, accused of defrauding the banks of $700 million. Soon, though, Kif feels less lucky than manipulated, as if Heidl weren't disclosing his own life but redirecting Kif's. Flanagan's Man Booker Prize winner, The Narrow Road to the Deep North, has 275,000 copies in print across formats.

        Copyright 2017 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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Kif Kehlmann, a young, penniless writer, thinks he’s finally caught a break when he’s offered $10,000 to ghostwrite the memoir of Siegfried “Ziggy” Heidl, the notorious con man and corporate criminal. Ziggy is about to go to trial for defrauding banks for $700 million; they have six weeks to write the book.
 
But Ziggy swiftly proves almost impossible to work with: evasive, contradictory, and easily distracted by his still-running “business concerns”—which Kif worries may involve hiring hitmen from their shared office. Worse, Kif finds himself being pulled into an odd, hypnotic, and ever-closer orbit of all things Ziggy. As the deadline draws near, Kif becomes increasingly unsure if he is ghostwriting a memoir, or if Ziggy is rewriting him—his life, his future, and the very nature of the truth.
 
By turns comic, compelling, and finally chilling, First Person is a haunting look at an age...
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