CITIZEN K by Mark Singer

CITIZEN K

The Deeply Weird American Journey of Brett Kimberlin
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KIRKUS REVIEW

 An absorbing investigation into the life and tall tales of Brett Kimberlin, the jailed drug dealer who won brief notoriety by claiming to have sold drugs to Dan Quayle. At first glance, Citizen K would seem to have little going for it: a subject who would hardly seem to deserve such attention and an author (Funny Money, 1985, etc.) who now seems bent on excusing himself for an overly sympathetic (and much criticized) 1992 profile of Kimberlin in the New Yorker. But this examination exonerates itself early and thoroughly. Kimberlin, an intellectually gifted and cunning drug dealer, jailhouse lawyer, and liar, turns out to be an intriguing figure. From his drug abusing early days to his eventual arrest and conviction as the figure responsible for a series of baffling bombings in Indiana, Kimberlin's criminal exploits are recounted in fast-paced, engaging prose. Most readers will be eager for the chapters on Kimberlin's claims about Quayle (he insisted that Quayle, when in law school, had regularly bought marijuana from him), and Singer does not disappoint. Through dogged reporting and with a healthy skepticism, Singer sorts through the conflicting accounts and reveals a man whose idea of the truth is utterly malleable. Kimberlin, it becomes clear, never encountered a situation that he couldn't somehow exploit for gain. Mindful of his early role in promoting Kimberlin's claims about Quayle, Singer is full of contrition, presenting himself as having been sucked into Kimberlin's ``narcissistic universe, a place far beyond the gravity-bound realities of politics, truth, and justice.'' But instead of drowning in regret, the repentant author turns his book into a lively revenge tale. In the delightful final chapters he cleverly tricks Kimberlin into exposing his own mendacity. For politicos, journalists, or anyone who has ever been pulled into the distorted worldview of a dangerous smooth talker, the story of Brett Kimberlin is a valuable one, expertly unearthed and reported by Singer.

Pub Date: Nov. 7th, 1996
ISBN: 0-679-42999-9
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Knopf
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1st, 1996




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