First Person

First Person

Book - 2018 | First American edition.
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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 where fact is indistinguishable from fiction, and freedom is traded for a false idea of progress.
Publisher: New York : Alfred A. Knopf, 2018.
Edition: First American edition.
Copyright Date: ©2017
ISBN: 9780525520023
Branch Call Number: Fic
Characteristics: 351 pages ; 25 cm


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Feb 20, 2019

A frustrated and frustrating autobiographical novel about a writer's frustrated collaboration with an infamous Australian con man on the fraudster's autobiography. Very frustrating to read, too.

Sep 13, 2018

This book is a wry, knowing riff on the act of writing and the literary imagination. It is written in the form of a memoir penned by the writer Kif Kehlmann who was employed to ghost-write the memoir of a con-man Siegfried Heidl.
If Siegfried Heidl sounds familiar, it's because he is. He is based on John Friedrich, who became the director of the National Safety Council of Australia (Victorian division) which collapsed with debts of a quarter of a billion dollars. He wrote, with Richard Flanagan (i.e. the author of this book) himself as ghost writer, Codename Iago: The Story of John Friedrich. And so, this book which appears to be a novel framed as a memoir, is probably more memoir than it appears, although it is not true.
The real pleasure of this book was knowing its tortured relationship with 'truth', and I had a little chuckle out loud when Kif referred to his ultimately-rejected first novel about a drowning river guide, knowing full well that this is Death of a River Guide, Flanagan's debut novel now viewed as a classic. I wondered how a reader unfamiliar with Flanagan and his work would read this book. For those of us who have followed Flanagan's work, it's a little nod and wink in our direction.

For my complete review, see

May 23, 2018

The author took about 2/3 of the book to repeatedly discuss that the two main characters are somehow intertwined. I skipped multiple pages as I was reading to find sections that actually had plot progression. I don't recommend this book.

May 07, 2018

First Person, a perplexing fabrication of meaningless drivel, neither amusing nor edifying, providing not even a morsel of reading satisfaction. Maybe there's a sublime, ulterior motive for publishing the novel only the literati are privy to. Perhaps it's a vehicle for repressed emotions on the part of Mr Flanagan, or an inside joke. The book does rate as a first-class time dissipater.

Nicr Apr 30, 2018

Kif Kehlmann, in the midst of trying to write a literary novel and desperate for money, has been tasked with ghostwriting--in six weeks--the memoir of celebrity con artist Siegfried Heidl: "I would meet myself writing Heidl." A little repetitive, as Kif continually battles Heidl's obfuscation (his "heidling"). A rumination on corruption and mortality. Derived from Flanagan's own experience as a ghost writer.

multcolib_susannel Apr 09, 2018

Even though writing a great novel is Kif's dream, when offered the chance to ghost write the autobiography of famous criminal/con man, Seigfried Heidle, he takes it.


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