The figurative language of David Bezmozgis….

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 from David Bezmozgis…

Born in Latvia, David Bezmozgis is a writer and filmmaker based in Toronto. In the summer of 2010, he was included in The New Yorker‘s “20 Under 40” issue, celebrating the twenty most promising fiction writers under the age of forty.  Over the years, he has been a Guggenheim Fellow, a MacDowell Fellow, a Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Fellow at the New York Public Library, and a Radcliffe Fellow.

I just finished his most recent collection of short stories, Immigrant City, and I was impressed. Told with sharp humour and a discerning eye, the stories explore a variety of immigrant experiences.

David Bezmozgis also makes superb use of figurative language:

  • By the last stop the train had nearly emptied out, leaving few representatives of white privilege. Those who remained looked pallid and desiccated, as if they’d been too weak to flee with the others.
  • People were always offering writers their stories, I thought. But those were rarely the stories writers wanted. Those stories were looked children who always raised their hands in class. Good stories didn’t raise their hands.
  • Our elevator arrived; the heavy metal doors enacted their grim choreography.
  • Through my visor I looked at the Armenian poet and playwright, who now seemed crisper, better articulated, as when the correct lens is snapped into place at the optometrist’s.
  • The heart barks like a dog.
  • It was as if some primordial, Jewish oy-face had surfaced with time, rounding and softening features, imbuing a fatherly, grandfatherly, even ancestral lachrymosity as from the headwaters of the biblical patriarchs.
  • He never had a cellphone, and my mother, aunt and uncle called him routinely. If he didn’t answer, nodes of panic would aggregate like birds on a roof and occasionally erupt in a spasm of flapping.
  • All of which probably didn’t bode well for the man in handcuffs, who sat in the prisoner’s dock looking not so much like a criminal but rather like a weary commuter waiting for the train.
  • His neck and his ankles were thin, and he was pale in the manner of someone who is either very sick or very spartan.