Reading Group Guide for Flim-Flam Man
1. Jennifer says of herself and her sister, "Dad was a mineshaft we raided for clues about ourselves" (102). Can you find evidence of her tendency to see herself in the mirror of her father throughout this memoir? What does she learn?
2. Similarly, Jennifer often worries that she is too much like her father. She lies, and remembers that he's a liar. She sets fires in the restroom, and remembers that he's an arsonist. Do you think Jennifer adopted these behaviors for the same reasons that her father did?
3. Think about the different ways John Vogel is portrayed in this book by observers other than the author, from the U.S. Marshals' description (95), to the résumé he creates for himself in Seattle (139), to the impersonation on "Unsolved Mysteries" (128). How do these contribute to your impression of John Vogel? Why does the author choose to share these descriptions with you even though she often criticizes their portrayal of her father?
4. Chapters about Jennifer's childhood are intermixed with chapters about her father's arrest, disappearance, and suicide. How does mixing the past and the present affect the telling of both tales? Do you see any parallels between the two stories?
5. Why do you think John Vogel chose to rob the bank in South Dakota? Do you think he needed money? Or do you think he needed a way to end the suspense of eluding capture, as Jennifer suspected (205)? Why else would he ha