Her rusty eyelashes as delicate equators…

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 and similes from Hector Tobar…

Over my summer holidays I read the novel The Barbarian Nurseries by Hector Tobar, a Los Angeles-based writer and journalist. The story of an entitled California family and their Mexican maid, the book examines two sides of LA: that of the wealthy and that of the impoverished immigrant.

I found the story gripping but what I appreciated even more was the writing. Hector Tobar has a keen ear for metaphor. Here are the ones I most enjoyed:

  • Samantha slept on her back, clutching the yellow blanket that accompanied her day and night, her closed eyes peaceful hemispheres, with her rusty eyelashes as delicate equators.
  • Hours later she could still feel his assault just below her collarbone, and see the two bruises that seemed to float on the surface of her skin like jellyfish.
  • Maureen’s room at the High Desert Radiance Spa was a two-room suite in which both rooms opened to a strand of Joshua trees, their twisted limbs arranged on a gently sloping hillside in the poses of a modern dance troupe.
  • His hair, she noted, was the color and thickness of a weak mountain stream during a summer drought, and his lips were arranged in a crawling half smile with the geometry of a roller coaster.
  • The guards guided Araceli into a cube-shaped room and directed her to wait alongside two other women on a bench bolted to the floor, one a Latina with eyebrows that looked like they were drawn with a 0.5-millimeter drafting pencil; the other an African-American woman with a head covered with parallel rows of hair and skin, as if plowed by a miniature farmer.
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