Magazine May 28, 2018, Issue

Ghost Writing

First Person, by Richard Flanagan (Knopf, 368 pp., $26.95)

It may be true that, as Dr. Johnson said, no man but a blockhead ever wrote except for money. But there are things that no man but a blockhead will write whatever the price, if he values his reputation, sanity, and soul. Horoscopes, weight-loss clickbait, Dianetical exegesis, and caveman erotica all belong to this category. But worst of all, the ultimate sellout, the recipe for spiritual suicide, is the as-told-to celebrity autobiography. There’s a reason they call it ghostwriting: It turns you into a shuffling, whispering, barely there husk of a man. Boswell had it too easy.

Richard Flanagan, the Tasmanian

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