Like a horseshoe on an anvil…

Word count: 280 words

Reading time: Just over 1 minute

I like to share interesting pieces of figurative language I encounter in my reading. Today I present a simile from Canadian writer Will Ferguson.

I often start my day with a pitchfork, cleaning out my spam folder. Too often, the junk mails come from Nigeria, where they are also known as 419 scams, in reference to the article of the Nigerian Criminal Code dealing with fraud.

I’ve never understood how anyone could be suckered by such an email. The spelling (always atrocious), the language (stilted and overly deferential) and the proposition (that I could receive several million dollars for simply transferring money to my bank account) all strike me as utterly ludicrous.

But Canadian writer Will Ferguson, known primarily as a humourist, decided to take a serious look at these scams with his sharp literary thriller, 419.  My husband read it first and encouraged me to try it, too.

The plot? Engaging. The characters? Very believable. I finally understand how someone might be suckered by 419 scams. The writing? I found it a bit off-putting in that Ferguson’s style involves very short segments — perhaps only a couple of paragraphs — on one scene before dashing off to another. I found this aggravating and it diminished my pleasure in the book.

That said, Ferguson knows how to use simile. Here was my favourite from the book:

The landscape reverberated from the heat like a horseshoe on an anvil still vibrating form the force of a blow. 

I’ve never been to Nigeria but I’ve been in some very hot climates (Nevada) and felt the vibration of extreme heat. His image captures it perfectly, don’t you think?

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