Thursday, August 8, 2013

Book review: 419 by Will Ferguson

Blurb:  A car tumbles through darkness down a snowy ravine.
A woman without a name walks out of a dust storm in sub-Saharan Africa.
And in the seething heat of Lagos City, a criminal cartel scours the internet looking for victims.
Lives intersect. Worlds collide. And it all begins with a single email:  "Dear Sir, I am the daughter of a Nigerian diplomat, and I need your help..." Will Ferguson takes readers deep into the labyrinth of lies that is "419," the world's most insidious internet scam.
When Laura Curtis, a lonely editor in a cold northern city, discovers that her father has died because of one such swindle, she sets out to track down--and corner--her father's killer. It is a dangerous game she is playing, however, and the stakes are higher than she can ever imagine.
Woven into Laura's journey is a mysterious woman from the African Sahel with scars etched into her skin and a young man who finds himself caught up in a web of violence and deceit.
And running through it, a dying father's final words. "You, I love."

What attracted me to this book?

Well, as I've shared with you before, I'm a fan of Will Ferguson. And this book won the Giller in 2012. Put them both together and you'll know why I read this book.

What did I find?

What a master storyteller can do...

-talk directly to the reader...

'Despair comes slowly, crawling its way up inside you until it threatens to overwhelm everything; it buckles the knees, makes you falter, makes you break stride.' (p. 88)

This type of writing is like being able to peek under the curtain and watch the Wizard of Oz at work.

-the two word transition...

'Outside:  chinook winds dividing the sky, the clear blue pushing dark clouds forward in a single wine arc. 
Inside:  Laura's father sitting on one of the mall's benches, staring at the ground, frowning thoughtfully.'

"You can't do that." Would be my immediate response, if I were to think of trying this. Yet, he has the confidence to try. And it works very well. I wonder how many writing rules we invent simply because we are afraid to try.

-like a skilled weaver, releases one strand (character) and picks up a different one. Both are woven flawlessly into the story.

-uses beautiful imaginary...

'She fell into sleep, like a body down a well.' (p. 95)

'It was a wisp of a dream, like trying to catch wind in your hand.' (p. 100)

-poses a question that resonates...

'The final block is fear...What if you denied fear its foothold? What if you refused to be afraid?' (p. 149)

-shares his trademark humour...

' "The only reason I never because you never lose." ' (p. 225)

About the story...

Once we feel cozy and warm in North America. Once we've identified the good and the bad. We travel with Mr. Ferguson to Nigeria--and everything is set on its ear.

' "[W]hen it comes to obtaining wealth through false pretense, the white man is still the expert. I'm afraid the black man is an amateur when it comes to 419ing others. One might say, my entire country was obtained under false pretenses." ' (p. 304)
Sharing my author journey...

Work in progress:  Alone in Her Head 
(a novel in story) 
(sequel to A Long Way From Her)
Current word count:  27,386 words
Goal:  40,000
The words are flowing. I'm loving the collection of short stories to make a novel concept. 
Next post:  Please welcome Author Crystal Favel


Laurie Buchanan said...

"Lives intersect. Worlds collide. And it all begins with a single email..."

If that doesn't reel a person in hook, line, and sinker - I don't know what does!

Leanne Dyck said...

And it does...
Thank you for your comment, Laurie