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First Person

av Richard Flanagan

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MedlemmarRecensionerPopularitetGenomsnittligt betygOmnämnanden
26011101,026 (3.48)11
Kif Kehlmann, a young, penniless writer, is rung in the middle of the night by the notorious con man and corporate criminal, Siegfried Heidl. About to go to trial for defrauding the banks of $700 million, Heidl offers Kehlmann the job of ghost-writing his memoir. He has six weeks to write the book, for which he'll be paid $10,000. But as the writing gets under way, Kehlmann begins to fear that he is being corrupted by Heidl. As the deadline draws closer, he becomes ever more unsure if he is ghost writing a memoir, or if Heidl is rewriting him--his life, his future. Everything that was certain grows uncertain as he begins to wonder: who is Siegfried Heidl--and who is Kif Kehlmann? As time runs out, as Kehlmann's world feels it is hurtling towards a catharsis, one question looms above all others: what is the truth? By turns compelling, comic, and chilling, this is a haunting journey into the heart of our age.… (mer)
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» Se även 11 omnämnanden

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I never realised before reading this book that the plot is pretty heavily autobiographical, that Flanagan ghost wrote a memoir of a famous conman in the 1990s.
It certainly adds a new dimension to the story!
It is an intriguing, interesting read that i am still undecided upon. Did I love it? No. Did I hate it? No
This is one you will have to make your own minds up about! ( )
  DebTat2 | Oct 13, 2023 |
My first Flanagan, and I am a convert. The story is of a ghost writer and a job he cannot refuse, of the frustrations of dealing with a subject who refuses to be 'dealt with' (Heidl), and the actual plot, which rages on throughout.
The treatment of Heidl is superb. In reading of him, I myself shuddered at the mere thought of having to interact with his like - in any context. The man was rendered so completely, and so completely well, that this alone (as a character study) is worth of the 5-star rating. The story came in long, drawn out sections in which you can savour the language and feel the feels, and then was more quickly paced and plot-driven. It was all pretty marvellous really, and I was convinced of this from not that far in. ( )
  LovingLit | Jun 19, 2021 |
The word ‘person’ is derived from the Latin persona which means a mask. And that’s what underpins First Person, particularly the mask of the antagonist Seigfried Heidl.

The story is set in 1992, recalled by the narrator and then struggling writer, Kif Kehlmann. He’s been hired to write Heidi’s biography in the six weeks before he’s to be tried for defrauding the banks of $700. His conviction is almost inevitable.

Heidl says he’s interested in helping Kehlmann but gives him very little. The writer’s cajoling if his subject to extract information is a constant. They play a game of cat and mouse that culminates in a tense and dramatic climax.

Flanagan uses the men’s intense, on Kehlmann’s part at least, relationship to explore Big Issues such as the shallowness of the commercial publishing industry, the wonder of childbirth, and the fraudulence of the financial system. The meaning of truth, the mask we present and the nature of charisma are also explored.

The writing is of the superior standard expected of a Booker prize winner. That, coupled with a compelling story, and profound questions make for an exceptional novel. ( )
  Neil_333 | Mar 6, 2020 |
The more I think about this book the more impressed I am. There's so much going on, and I occasionally became frustrated or annoyed while reading, but it has some important things to say.

There are three themes and/storylines: (1) the story of Kif Kehlmann, an aspiring author who takes on the task of ghost-writing a famous conman's memoir; (2) Kehlmann's own experiences trying to provide for his wife and daughter while also anticipating the arrival of twins; and (3) Flanagan's depiction of the writing process and the role of truth and memory in literature (and the world) today, especially the shift to autofiction and memoir.

The first and second storylines dominate the first two-thirds of the book. They are based in Flanagan's own experiences, both of ghostwriting for a legendary Australian conman and of his experiences as a young man growing up in Tasmania, getting married, and barely eking out a living while trying to become a writer. The clash of his ambitions and his reality are made more complicated and surreal by his relationship with Siegfried Heidl, the subject of the autobiography/memoir, who wants the money he'll get for the book but refuses to give Kehlmann the material he needs to write it. He draws Kehlmann into his orbit, causing the writer to hate himself even more for his choice to take on the assignment even as he is more and more fascinated by his subject. Meanwhile, Suzy, his wife, is unbelievably supportive even as he drifts farther away (physically and emotionally) and she has to endure her pregnancy and the arrival of her twins mostly on her own.

The two storylines don't fit that well together, as other reviewers have said, and their tones are different. But you need Kehlmann's personal story because it helps you (and him) remember that he's not just Heidl's tool, and it also provides the link between Heidl and Kehlmann through Ray, Kif's childhood friend. Ray is the thread that links Kif's personal and professional lives and helps make sense of his behavior in both realms.

The last third of the book diverges the most from Flanagan's life, and may represent the road he could have gone down if his Heidl/Friedrich experience had had different consequences. And here is where Flanagan's thoughts and opinions about the relationship between novels and memoirs, traditional fiction and autofiction, come to the forefront. It's a bit heavy-handed, sure, but I found it very effective. There's a short scene set in New York that skewers the current publishing industry perfectly, in a mirror image of the way the 1990s-set parts of the novel capture the bestseller mania of that era.

Flanagan is clearly a prose stylist of great accomplishment, and there are some gorgeous sentences and paragraphs. The style overall is more uneven because the three stories are written in different registers, and it can throw the reader out for a while before pulling her back in. Like many ambitious books, this one doesn't hit all its marks. But so what? It's still a tremendously worthwhile reading experience. ( )
  Sunita_p | May 18, 2019 |
I have often observed that if you watch films produced in the early 1990s, at first glance the world does not look so strikingly dissimilar from the one that we inhabit. Oh, there are subtle differences in automobiles, clothing and hair styles, but nothing nearly as dramatic as would stand out so starkly as it would if you were to juxtapose certain other decades such as, say, the 1990s with the 1970s, or the 1980s with the 1960s, or the 1960s with the 1940s. But, of course, there is a great glaring dimension of change that transcends it all, that is less superficial and far more central, and the only hint of it in these ‘90s films is that conspicuous in their absence in everyday life are the computers and smart phones ubiquitous today. There are cameos, indeed, of PC’s with massive CRT monitors in office environments, and primitive brick-size cell phones wielded by select actors, but these are simply portents of a future with implications that were hardly yet imagined.
The revolution in technology did not wear an iconic hat that clearly and visibly marked what has surely been as earth-shattering to the evolution of human civilization as the move to food production some twelve thousand years ago, or the advent of the Industrial Revolution two and a half centuries ago. But in the relatively brief span that elapsed between the release of two flicks in the crime heist genre—Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs in 1992 and Martin McDonagh’s Baby Driver in 2017—the world has undergone a vast change that we perhaps have yet to fully comprehend. GPS, DNA, IPOD, CPU, IPHONE, DROID, WEBCAM, WINDOWS-10, MAC-AIR, GOOGLE, FACEBOOK, CCTV, STREAMING, DVR, DRONE—these are all shorthand that shout out not only what we have gained, but most notably what we have lost in an irrevocably altered universe that on its face looks otherwise so familiar to us. In the end, some things we may never have thought were at risk—things like privacy and anonymity—have forever vanished. It feels like we have lost something else, as well, something far more critical, but we have yet to find the words to fully articulate that loss.
The plot of Richard Flanagan’s First Person: A Novel is not specifically concerned with all of that, yet it is evident in the metaphorical subtextual underscore that is only subtly revealed in the nuanced quasi-epilogue that closes out this magnificent novel. Much of the narrative is set in the early 1990s, although there is clearly a look back from the present-day that is only made manifest at its end. This is fitting because First Person was published in 2017, and Flanagan’s own first novel, Death of a River Guide, in 1994. But there is much more to it than that.
Before he wrote fiction, Flanagan was just a young Tasmanian aspiring novelist retained for $10,000 on a punishing six-week schedule to ghostwrite the memoir of John Friedrich, an infamous con-man on trial for defrauding banks of hundreds of millions of dollars. Fredrich killed himself before the work was complete, but the finished work saw posthumous publication in 1991. The subtitle of First Person—"A Novel”—is perhaps a satirical clarification of what the author is up to. This is because Flanagan’s latest work is a fictional treatment (or is it?) of precisely this episode from his own life. In this version, the protagonist is Kif Kehlmann, a young Tasmanian aspiring novelist retained for $10,000 on a punishing six-week schedule to ghostwrite the memoir of Siegfried “Ziggy” Heidl, an infamous con-man convicted of defrauding banks of hundreds of millions of dollars. This proves a challenging yet miraculous potential windfall for the poverty-stricken Kif, a struggling would-be novelist attempting to make brittle ends meet, while balancing his roles as father to a young child and husband (in a passionate but volatile relationship) to a beautiful woman, heavily pregnant with twins. Ziggy is an artful manipulator, and soon gets inside Kif’s head, as the project turns to frustration, hopelessness and foreboding. Kif comes to question his own reality, an internal brand of the kind of “gaslighting” that often confronts us in today’s political post-truth universe. In the end, Kif has been not only scarred but permanently altered by the experience, his sense of identity somehow irretrievably lost, and lost along with that has been the very world he once inhabited.
Richard Flanagan remains one of my favorite living novelists. Like all great writers of fiction, he brings much greater themes to storylines that are themselves fascinating and compelling. His epic novel of prisoners of war set to slave labor on the Burma Railway, The Narrow Road to the Deep North, was awarded the Man Booker Prize in 2014. And I consider Gould’s Book of Fish—his 2001 tragicomic tale of a hapless prisoner of an earlier day, distinguished by the author’s own unique use of magical realism—one of the finest novels yet written in the millennium. Flanagan’s latest effort demonstrates that his skill as an artist of words only continues to flourish.
The best part of First Person is in looking back on it after closing the cover. The reader cannot help but wonder which chunks of the novel represent the fictional Kif Kehlmann, and which reflect the authentic Richard Flanagan? And where in the narrative does John Friedrich end and Ziggy Heidl begin? Or vice versa? Have all four men, real and fictional, somehow merged into a single figure that is at once an amalgam of the best and worst features of the four? Most disturbing perhaps, is the harbinger that is the second to last line of the novel: “It’s coming. It’s coming.” Of course, for the author and the rest of us, we certainly know that answer: it’s already here. ( )
  Garp83 | Sep 2, 2018 |
Visa 1-5 av 11 (nästa | visa alla)
Two deaths – two executions – are at the heart of the darkness that is Richard Flanagan’s new novel, First Person. One takes place in the wild and remote Gulf country of northern Queensland and the other in the seemingly mundane setting of an outer Melbourne suburb.
 

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Flanagan, Richardprimär författarealla utgåvorbekräftat
Linski, DavidBerättaremedförfattarevissa utgåvorbekräftat
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Kif Kehlmann, a young, penniless writer, is rung in the middle of the night by the notorious con man and corporate criminal, Siegfried Heidl. About to go to trial for defrauding the banks of $700 million, Heidl offers Kehlmann the job of ghost-writing his memoir. He has six weeks to write the book, for which he'll be paid $10,000. But as the writing gets under way, Kehlmann begins to fear that he is being corrupted by Heidl. As the deadline draws closer, he becomes ever more unsure if he is ghost writing a memoir, or if Heidl is rewriting him--his life, his future. Everything that was certain grows uncertain as he begins to wonder: who is Siegfried Heidl--and who is Kif Kehlmann? As time runs out, as Kehlmann's world feels it is hurtling towards a catharsis, one question looms above all others: what is the truth? By turns compelling, comic, and chilling, this is a haunting journey into the heart of our age.

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