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Donald Trump has a Lying Ghostwriter

If a rich liar asked you to ghostwrite his memoir, would you do it?
Lying Ghostwriter

When a writer’s last novel was an operatic showpiece that earned the Man Booker Prize, his new novel has a lot of living up to do. Australian novelist Richard Flanagan follows 2014’s “The Narrow Road to the Deep North” with “First Person,” in which corporate con man Siegfried Heidl has defrauded banks of $700 million. Free on bond but about to be imprisoned forever, he’s in need of a ghostwriter to concoct his memoir because he’s in need of the publisher’s money. Enter Kif Kehlmann, a brooding and hamstrung novelist with one child already and a spouse expecting twins. He needs the money, too.

The narrative consists of a panting pas de deux between Heidl and Kehlmann as they toil to get the book written, which means inventing Heidl’s history wholesale because he won’t admit to anything: not to facts, not to motives, not even to his boyhood. He claims he’s a native Australian but speaks English with an unignorable German accent. “I have been missing since I was born,” he says. Kehlmann’s task is to sort Heidl’s fictions from his truths, and to keep his own sanity intact long enough to get paid. “The past is always unpredictable,” says Kehlmann at the outset, and it will prove much more unpredictable than he suspects.
Siegfried Heidl is the fictional doppelganger of John Friedrich, the real-life Australian fraudster whose extravagant crimes revealed the staggering incompetence of certain banks and government agencies. At the time of Friedrich’s death in 1991 — he was found with a self-inflicted gunshot wound to his head — he was working on a memoir with, yes, Richard Flanagan.....
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