Be the Carnie, not the Mark…

27 Feb Be the Carnie, not the Mark…

How are you doing, readers, with the LOL’s latest novel? As I’m making my way through Will Ferguson’s Spanish Fly, here are some notable parts:

Chapter 33

I love the way Ferguson describes the art of the con in musical terms, likening the take to the jazz of the day. “There was a musical quality to every con, a rhythm that seemed to play itself out. Even the shortest street scams had it. Longer cons were orchestral arrangements, corner hustles were quick little tunes, but every one was musical in nature…”

Chapter 36

Despite Virgil’s all-consuming passion for the con and much- inflated recollection of his roles in various famous takes, he passes along some noteworthy advice to young Jack. Lamenting the fact he got taken by carnies at the fair, way back when he rightfully won the big bear for Becky, Jack is happy to see Robbins Bros. fair disappear in the dust as the group passes by. Like a father passing along wise advice to a son, Virgil reassures Jack that all confidence men get stung at some point. The trick to rising above it? Don’t be bitter, learn from it.

“Someone knocks you on your heels, and you decide, in the ledger of life, that you’re going to be the duper, not the dupee. The carnie, not the mark.” Encouraging Jack to follow his example, Virgil relays the story of how he learned from the best, old Suitcase Simpson. “I tracked Simpson down, but instead of beating the tar out of him, I said, ‘Teach me.’ Well, soon enough, I learned to pull that switch as smoothly as silk from a sow’s ass.”

Perhaps not the most honourable role model and not the most ethical example, yet I suspect Virgil’s advice will come in handy for Jack, when the hinted at conflict between the two escalates. After all, Jack is learning from the best.

See you for Wordy Wednesday!