First Person by Richard Flanagan review – memoirs of a shady past

In the Man Booker winner’s first novel since The Narrow Road to the Deep North, an invitation to ghostwrite a criminal’s autobiography leads a man into a moral crisis

Kif Kehlmann is a young Tasmanian with a chip on his shoulder, $200 in his bank account, a wife who is pregnant with twins, a three-year-old daughter he struggles to provide for, and thwarted ambitions to become a novelist. But he also has noble principles. When celebrated conman Siegfried Heidl – who is about to go to prison for his crimes – suggests out of the blue that Kif becomes the ghostwriter of his memoir, his first instinct is to say no, and stick to the high ground of his failing art.

But needs must. And anyway, Kif seems to have been given a head start – a 12,000-word manuscript produced by Heidl himself, which on the face of it offers a sketch of everything it will be Kif’s job to flesh out. Despite the warnings of both his conscience and his rackety best friend Ray, now employed as Heidl’s gofer, he therefore accepts the commission.

Continue reading…

Previous Post
Next Post