First Person by Richard Flanagan

First Person

Richard Flanagan

A devastating satire on the world of publishing based on real life events, with a sly dig at the latest cult of memoir as fiction and the blurring of fact with fake news and post truth. Our hapless narrator Kif, acting as ghostwriter, enters an unholy Faustian alliance with his subject, all the while uncertain of what is fiction and what is fact, but increasingly resorting to 'making things up'. A literary extravaganza to relish.

Extract

I was learning from him the power of suggestion rather than demonstration; of evasion rather than enlightenment; of giving only one fact – or really just the rumour of a fact – and then letting the reader invent everything around it. I was without being aware of it, learning to distract from the truth by amusing the reader; to flatter the reader by playing on what they believed to be their virtues – their ideas of goodness and decency – whilst leading them ever further into an alien darkness that was the real world, and perhaps the real them, and on occasion, I feared, the real me ………….. And every night when I thought I was washing him away I was deluding myself. For he was entering me, and there was nothing I could do about it. I sensed it, how could I not. But I ignored it because the worlds were beginning to come. He was entering me and there were more and more words, and with each word somehow less and less of me. I was a man unmoored, once more adrift in a wild sea.

Parallels
  • Based on a True Story by Delphine de Vigan
  • Motherland by Paul Theroux