The figurative language of Alison Wearing

Reading time: Just over 1 minute

I like to share interesting pieces of figurative language I encounter in my reading. I write today about a series of metaphors and similes from Alison Wearing….

An award-winning Canadian writer, playwright and performer, Alison Wearing (pictured above) knows her way around memoir. I recall enjoying her remarkable first book, Honeymoon in Purdah, almost 20 years ago.

More recently, she’s released a charming memoir about a genealogical trip she made to Ireland with her father. Titled Moments of Glad Grace, the book also contains a plethora of colourful, evocative figurative language. Here are my favourite examples:

  • We thank him for his help and drag our jet-lagged jelly-legs back up to the apartment.
  • I lift the polished round limestone that is apparently my head and say “good idea,” before crashing back onto my pillow.
  • My dad nestles around his newspaper covetously, almost predatorily, like a carnivorous plant curling around a dead bug.
  • The sky is a cerulean song.
  • Within a few blocks we are back at the Liffey, the river that bisects Dublin and pulls softness through this small stone city.
  • My father laughs, nervous chuckles that have a woodpecker quality to them, and I can tell he has no idea what has just been said or why.
  • We grind our names into the book with our blunt pencils and sit in the pair of chairs in front of her desk like schoolchildren in the principal’s office.
  • I laugh, because I’ve always found laughter to be the most effective response to displays to self-importance, and she looks at me again, long enough to take in a quick sip of breath and tighten the belt around the conversation by another notch.
  • My father barks out a strange laugh, a flat sound such as the one he might emit were he to be whacked on the back with a canoe paddle.
  • When the food arrives, it does so in keeping with the trendy proportion of food to crockery: minuscule portions on gargantuan plates.
  • We stand together in a suburb of South Dublin and wait. Share silence Listen to all the birds we have not been able to hear in the city. Delicate blossoms against our ears.
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