The figurative language of Gary Shteyngart…

Reading time:

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

Author Gary Shteyngart is a really funny guy. Several years ago, I enjoyed his novel Super Sad True Love Story. And, more recently, I lapped up Our Country Friends.

I had heard and read many laudatory reviews of Friends, and I was intrigued because the novel, published in 2021 was apparently one of the first to work the pandemic into its plotline.

But the major pleasure of reading any book by Shteyngart is his superb — and often very funny — use of figurative language. Here are my favourite examples:

  • When the final bill, adding up to just over four digits, meandered out of the machine in many long spurts, Senderovsky’s hand could barely slalom through his signature.
  • Russian was a language built around the exhalation of warmth and pain, but lately Senderovsky had found his declarations of love for his wife stilted, as if he were reading them from a play.
  • While the husband dithered, the wife now spoke with finality, a rubber band snapped against the fingers.
  • The two men regarded each other by the curb, Senderovsky playing the dog to Ed’s cat.
  • A second-floor landing and an adjoining window were yellow-lit at an odd angle, like a Mondrian painting.
  • Senderovsky bowed to him like a majordomo after his master’s return from the capital.
  • “Turn left” her car reminded her, its personality that of a fidgety beagle.
  • In the glare of her high beams, he tall grass of the front lawn fluttered up and down in the wind like her neighborhood’s Jews at prayer.
  • Clouds cast shadows over the mountains, like dark spots on an X-ray.
  • The Actor thought brashly of reaching out and touching her hand, which sat like a pale dumpling on her lap.
  • When the sound of his cough woke him up, the wind was ripping through the trees, hungry for leaves but settling for the branches, which it cracked with a horrific groan, one by one, like a torturer in the Lubyanka.
  • Around this time of financial troubles, his Los Angeles agent called, her voice smooth and deceptively creamy like a chilled chia-seed parfait.
  • After the liquor hit all the sensitive parts of his esophagus like a pinball igniting the pleasure centers of its machine, he began to cough loudly.
  • His eyes were blue to the point of caricature.
  • Karen and Vinod were snoring with abandon, their arms desperately tight around each other, as if the final smokestack of the Titanic was disappearing into the waves behind them.
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