The figurative language of Emily Austin

Reading time: About 1 minute

I like to share interesting pieces of figurative language I encounter in my reading. I write today about a series of metaphors from Emily Austin….

Originally, I wanted to say that the best thing about a new book by Emily Austin was its title, Everyone in this room will someday be dead.

And, yes, it’s a terrific name for a novel.

But the book itself is even better. Both funny and sad, it tells the story of a twenty-something, atheist, animal-loving lesbian, who is riddled with anxiety. She responds to a flyer for free therapy at a local Catholic church, and ends up becoming a receptionist there.

The story is superb, and the figurative language offers a nice fillip. Here are my favourite examples:

  • I broke my arm once before, I was in the fourth grade. I made a dicey acrobatic move on the monkey bars and sunk into the gravel blow the jungle gym like a shot bird.
  • I exit the church like I am escaping a crime scene.
  • I feel like my ribs are a birdcage and my heart is a bird on fire.
  • I am balancing on the curb like it’s a tightrope.
  • My brain feels too small for my skull. I feel like it’s sloshing around in my head.
  • I slam the cupboard door shut so hard aver hiding them (stolen communion wafers) that it breaks off one of its hinges. The remaining hinge is enough to keep the cupboard attached. It hangs from the wall like a loose tooth.
  • Rattling noises in the hall make all the hairs on my arms stand at attention like useless little soldiers.

Emily Austin was born in St. Thomas, Ontario, Canada. She studied English Literature and Religious Studies at King’s University College, and Library and Information Science at Western University. She received two writing grants from the Canada Council for the Arts, and has a background in libraries, teaching, and working as an information architect.

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