The figurative language of Dani Shapiro…

Reading time: Less than 1 minute

I like to share interesting pieces of figurative language I encounter in my reading. I write today about some similes and metaphors from Dani Shapiro…

I’ve never been a huge fan of Dani Shapiro. The American writer (pictured above), is 56-years-old and has already written four memoirs, which to me suggests either an inability to move beyond a single topic or an unhealthy self-obsession. Nevertheless, I take back all my snarky comments for her latest memoir, Inheritance, which is magnificent.

Subtitled, A Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity, and Love, the book tells the story of her accidental discovery that her much-loved father was not, in fact, her biological father. That she could track down her biological father — in a matter of days — makes this memoir even more riveting.

I don’t find Shapiro to be a vastly skilled figurative writer (read her book for the story, not the writing!) but I found some imagery I liked. Here are my favourite examples:

  • Both our eyes were trained straight ahead. The car a confessional, a vault.
  • She never let her true self be seen. Her dark eyes often quivered disconcertingly, and when she smiled it was a careful smile—as if smiling was something she practiced in private.
  • Grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins floated away from me like dozens of life rafts.
  • I ached with grief but this grief was not the sharp, suffocating grief that accompanies a recent death. It was a field of grief, a sea of it. There were no edges.
  • Lookstein has the sad brown eyes of a basset hound, set in an elegant, elfin face.
  • The room expanded and contracted like an accordion.

An earlier version of this post first appeared on my blog on Feb 14/19.

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