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Customer reviews

2.7 out of 5 stars
First Person
Format: Kindle Edition|Change

on 23 November 2017
Untangling a toxic relationship, Flanagan takes us into the internal world of the biographer, and the relationship between writer and subject - and the difficulty of capturing another's life in an authentic way, and how this in turn shapes the writer. Well worth reading.
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on 12 November 2017
A book worth persevering with, a story that slowly pulls you in until you must read it to the end. The book it explores post-modern ideas about truth and reality. The unravelling of a life that is a metaphor for society, reflecting on who we are and how we came to be.
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on 24 December 2017
Although I loved Mr Flanagans writing there wasn't much of a story...I think if you'd lived in Oz at that time and had the cultural context of Friedrich it would have been more enthralling.....but I did not...
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on 11 January 2018
I don't agree with the glowing reviews. There's some good prose, but the book isn't darkly comedic, it's boring twaddle.
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on 29 March 2018
This was a complete waste of time! Did not enjoy this book - I was awaiting a turning point and none came.
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on 14 February 2018
didnt like anything about this book. self centred character, cruel and weird
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on 13 February 2018
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TOP 10 REVIEWERon 18 October 2017
In 1992, Kif Kehlmann was young, broke, married with one child and twins on the way. He was living with his wife Suzy and three-year-old daughter in Hobart, trying to finish the novel he’d been writing for years. The need to make some money was becoming urgent. And then, Kif is approached to ghost-write a memoir. Siegfried Heidl is a notorious conman and corporate criminal: about to go on trial for defrauding the banks of $700 million. Kif will receive $10,000 if he can ghost-write Heidl’s memoir in six weeks.

Kif moves to Melbourne, leaving his heavily pregnant wife and daughter behind. Sure, he’ll travel home on weekends, and the babies aren’t due just yet. In Melbourne, Kif hooks up with his old mate Ray. It’s thanks to Ray that he’s been offered this job, and $10,000 will be very handy. But trying to get any information out of Heidl is difficult. And the publisher, Gene Paley, is pushing Kif for progress. After all, in this part of the publishing world, timing is everything.

‘This too you learnt from Heidl: how easy it is to remember; how hard to know if there is truth in even one memory.’

As the story unfolds, as Heidl’s trial date approaches and is then brought forward, Kif is under increased pressure to deliver. It’s difficult to sort fact from fiction in what Heidl tells him, especially when Heidl turns Kif’s questions and suggestions into his own experiences. Is Kif writing Heidl’s memoir, or is Heidl reshaping Kif’s life? If Kif has done a deal with the devil, how will he survive it?

’My first novel, I was aware, had suffered from being autobiographical, but now I feared my first autobiography was becoming a novel.’

I found this novel intriguing. The story opens with Kif reflecting on 1992 with the events around ghost-writing Heidl’s memoir. It then shifts to Kif’s present, to the changes in his life and circumstances. Kif may have survived the experience, but he’s not unscathed by it.

I wondered how much of the material for this novel was drawn from Richard Flanagan’s own experience of ghost-writing John Friederich’s autobiography ‘Codename Iago: The Story of John Friedrich’ in 1991.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith
3 people found this helpful
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on 12 November 2017
After reading the astonishing "The Narrow Road to the Deep North" I was expecting another touching story, however it doesn't get close.
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on 8 October 2017
The best living Australian writer.
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