Amy Waldman’s figurative language….

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 similes and metaphors from Amy Waldman….

American author and journalist Amy Waldman (pictured above) was a reporter with the New York Times for eight years before her first novel was published in 2011.

That book, The Submission, addresses the fallout from 9/11 attacks in a particularly creative way. It imagines a contest to build a memorial in which the names of designers are hidden from the panel choosing the winner. At the beginning of chapter two, we learn the winner is a Muslim.

While the story is highly engaging, I found Amy Waldman’s figurative language even more compelling. Here are my favourite examples:

  • As heads bowed, he glimpsed the part in Claire’s hair, the line as sharp and white as a jet’s contrail, the intimacy as unexpected as the flash of thigh.
  • Her name was Violet, and she was a compulsive pessimist, always looking for the soft brown spot in the fruit, pressing so hard she created it.
  • She twisted her napkin as if trying to squeeze water from it.
  • She looked pretty good for her age, those cheekbones protruding like tangerines.
  • At four, Emmanuel Roi, the firm’s found, swept into the office like a leaf blower, scattering everything, everyone in his path.
  • His hair had a black Cadillac’s sheen, his face a stark, powdered pallor.
  • It was unlikely that the governor, whose national ambitions dangled like a watch chain, would take a stand for a Muslim now.
  • In his bow tie, [retired executive] Paul felt like he had overdressed for the school dance.
  • In America time was gold; in Bangladesh, corrugated tin.
  • In the window, long white gloves were laid out like prone bodies.
  • The ground beneath his back was hard, the sky above a piercing blue, smooth as newly made ice cream.
  • She ate ramen noodles from the vending machine, their texture just a few molecular recombinations from the Styrofoam cup containing them.
  • The glow from the site below, which was lit, as always, for night, seemed to hover outside the windows like an aurora borealis.
  • She looked up, too, to see a crescent moon so slight it was as if a fingernail had scratched the sky.
  • The Arabian Sea unrolled to the horizon like a bolt of tussar silk.