Spanish Fly

Paperback | August 20, 2013

byWill Ferguson

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Meet Jack McGreary, a young man growing up in the faded boomtown of Paradise Flats amid the dust storms and broken dreams of the Great Depression. Raised by his eccentric and increasingly erratic father, Jack has learned to live by his wits. He outplays the local businessmen, out-argues the local priest, and even outsmarts a gang of hardened carnies at a seedy fairground. So when a pair of fast-talking swin­dlers blows through town, Jack joins them. Virgil Ray and Miss Rose are more than happy to lead a young boy astray, and together they go on a raucous crime spree across the American Southwest.

It’s a wild ride, one of jazz clubs and easy money. But when the three of them find themselves caught up in a murder ploy, Jack begins to suspect that he is being set up as a patsy. Are Virgil and Miss Rose playing Jack? Or is Jack playing them?

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Meet Jack McGreary, a young man growing up in the faded boomtown of Paradise Flats amid the dust storms and broken dreams of the Great Depression. Raised by his eccentric and increasingly erratic father, Jack has learned to live by his wits. He outplays the local businessmen, out-argues the local priest, and even outsmarts a gang of ha...

Travel writer and novelist Will Ferguson is the author of several award-winning memoirs, including Beyond Belfast, about a 560-mile walk across Northern Ireland in the rain; Hitching Rides With Buddha, about an end-to-end journey across Japan by thumb; and most recently the humour collection Canadian Pie, which includes his travels fro...

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:456 pages, 8.22 × 5.26 × 1.18 inPublished:August 20, 2013Publisher:Penguin CanadaLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0143189484

ISBN - 13:9780143189480

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Editorial Reviews

“An eminently readable novel… Like Robertson Davies, Will Ferguson has the gift of linkage, of letting unlikely novelistic strands interleave and thicken into a significant braid.” - The Globe and Mail“A remarkable novel that is sure to become a modern-day classic…. Ferguson combines fact and fiction to produce a compelling and surprisingly humorous coming-of-age tale that will appeal to all readers…. Ferguson builds a tense climax by skilfully planting morsels of key information throughout the story. This leads to an exhilarating and unpredictable conclusion that will have readers guessing until the final page.” - Winnipeg Free Press“Ferguson has written history and humour side by side many times, and this is the first time he has fused them together so successfully… It’s a pleasure to ride with our sort-of-heroes in their 1939 Nash Ambassador.” - Telegraph Journal“Stunning…. Spanish Fly will be in high demand because of Ferguson’s name, but it should be in high demand because of his talent. Nuanced and enthralling, Spanish Fly is undoubtedly the best writing he has ever done.” - Quill & Quire Books of the Year review“Ferguson is a novelist to be reckoned with…. This is a man who has found his storytelling voice, using the Great Depression as a backdrop for three grifters who are blowing through the American South one scam at a time. If it were up to me, I would have put this book on the Giller list.” - The Ottawa Citizen“A remarkable work, steeped in history and arcane knowledge but rooted in the intimate timelessness of the human heart and soul. There are a few laughs, but this is a serious, and ultimately heart-rending, story. Spanish Fly is the real thing.” - Vancouver Sun“A solid read… Ferguson shows a flair for historical detail and pop culture.” - Montreal Gazette“Some of the most fascinating and interesting reading I’ve seen in a long time. Ferguson’s writing style flows smoothly…. In terms of drama, humour, pacing, imagination, research, vocabulary and the ability to express his ideas through his characters, Will Ferguson ranks up there with some of the best I’ve read.” - The Leader-Post“Will Ferguson makes his protagonist’s character resemble the landscape—bleak and weathered, but carrying a promise or at least a hint of something better. One can read Spanish Fly and become immersed in its setting of dustbowl plains juxtaposed with the high-living shills who exploit it, but the most substantial immersion is in the exploration of attitudes and beliefs.” - The Edmonton Journal“A wonderful ride.” - The Calgary Herald“Ferguson’s offbeat view of the world is on display in this charming novel about con men…. Ferguson paints a vivid picture of the era, with its wild jazz clubs, pool hall sharks, failing banks, hapless farmers and easy marks. It’s funny, dark and entertaining.” - Toronto Sun“Ferguson fills his pages with fascinating historical detail and lovingly described cons. His lengthy descriptions of scams are enthralling, funny and perhaps even educational.” - The Guardian“This is a terrific book, lyrical and hilarious, bleak and funny, with a love of history balanced against a rippingly clever plot.” - The Telegraph UK“An entertaining comic tale of American boy makes bad.” - The Daily Mail“A heady mix of jitterbugging, swindling and double-double-crossing, set against the whisky-scented backdrop of America in 1939…. This is a richly atmospheric novel that seduces you—just as Jack seduces—with its reckless hedonism, feats of incredible ingenuity and fabulous costumes.” - New Statesman“Ferguson’s comic picaresque is a delight, and the book would have worked just as well at twice the length.” - The Financial Times“A terrific novel—complex but fun, philosophical but sharp, perceptive but ambiguous. The dialogue is razor-sharp and laced with dry wit, the endless cons are delivered with gusto and even the deeper, more thoughtful moments zing along in page-turning fashion…. As Ferguson builds to a crackling multilayered climax, the ideas of right and wrong, true and false are blurred, but you’re just happy to be along for the ride.” - The Sunday Herald“Brilliantly entertaining.” - The Times