The figurative language of Elizabeth Strout….

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I like to share interesting pieces of figurative language I encounter in my reading. I write today about metaphors from Elizabeth Strout…

Pulitzer Prize winner Elizabeth Strout is one of the best, most skillful fiction writers alive in the US today.

Born in Portland, Maine, and raised in small towns in Maine and Durham, New Hampshire, Strout had a science professor for a father. Her mother was an English professor and also taught writing in a nearby high school. After graduating from Bates College in Lewiston, Maine, Strout spent a year in Oxford, England, followed by studies at law school for another year.

Strout worked for six or seven years to complete her first novel, Amy and Isabelle, which, when published, was shortlisted for the 2000 Orange Prize and nominated for the 2000 PEN/Faulkner Award for fiction. The book was also adapted as a television movie, starring Elisabeth Shue.

I discovered Strout when I read her Pulitzer Prize winner, Olive Kitteridge, published in 2008. The book featured a collection of connected short stories about a woman and her immediate family and friends on the coast of Maine.

Her latest novel, Lucy by the Sea, is as exquisitely written as her earlier ones in spare, crystalline prose. Here are my favourite examples of her fine figurative language:

  • A few nights later I woke in the middle of the night and was visited by a memory, one I had put out of my head because it was so unpleasant; I had shoved it down to where bad memories become scraps of Kleenex in the bottom of a pocket.
  • My humiliation was so deep, it seemed to go straight through all of me into my feet.
  • It seemed to come to me in fragments, and the fact that my brother had died, and that my sister had resented me her entire life, sat like a dark wet patch of sand on my soul.
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