The figurative language of Gail Caldwell…

Reading time: Less than 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 Gail Caldwell…

In the earlier days of COVID, I’d read anything about the subject, as I was desperate for both information and comfort. Now, I’m much more selective.

Still I was very grateful to have read a marvellous May 22/20 New York Times post by Gail Caldwell, pictured above, a writer with whom I’d been unfamiliar. Caldwell was the chief book critic for The Boston Globe, where she was on staff from 1985 to 2009. And she was the winner of the 2001 Pulitzer Prize for Criticism.

Her NY Times piece — about COVID — ran under the headline, “Learning How to Love From Afar,” She used such graceful and beautiful language, I resolved to read at least one of her books. Here are my favourite examples from her piece:

  • But my old kitchen wall clock went unclaimed. I propped it against a tree, a forlorn Dali melting into the rough winter earth.
  • I follow [my panic] like a bell-shaped curve through the day, trying to stay a mindful six feet away from [it].
  • The tangible things I miss the most are nearby but might as well be on the moon: the swimming pool, my boat upon the river.
  • I also realize that for vast numbers on this tattered planet, Covid-19 is merely another brick on the load of suffering they face every day.
  • Even my sadness feels inadequate, or slightly obscene, an Hermès scarf held up against a tsunami of grief.
  • What I had was a weak leg that never worked as well as the other, a limp that slowed me down but didn’t fell me. Polio was a shadow in my life, not a divining rod.

Don’t you find her writing to be exquisite?