The figurative language of James Nestor…

Reading time: Just over 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 James Nestor….

James Nestor (pictured above) is an American journalist who has written for Scientific American, Outside Magazine, The New York Times and The Atlantic.

But he’s spent the last few years working on a book called Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art. I found it to be an interesting and highly readable book with a plethora of figurative language.

Here are my favourite examples from James Nestor’s writing:

  • It’s 8:15 am, and Olsson burst in, Kramer-style, through the side door.
  • There are wispy plumes of cirrus clouds moving across the night sky, as big as spaceships. Above them, a few stubborn stars punch through the mist and cluster around a waxing moon.
  • I smell the sour, old-sock stink of mud. The black-label ChapStick of the damp doormat. A Lysol whiff of the lemon tree and the anise tinge of dying leaves.
  • Each of these scents, this material in the word, explodes in my head in a Technicolor burst. The scents are so sparkled and alarming that I can almost see them — a billion colored dots in a Seurat painting.
  • In some ways, carbon dioxide worked as a kind of divorce lawyer, a go-between to separate oxygen from its ties so it could be free to land another mate.
  • I run a little harder, breathe a little less, and feel heat, heavy like hot syrup, seeping down into my fingertips, toes, arms, and legs.
  • As I dug through a century of scientific papers on the subject over several months, I felt like I was trapped in a respiratory research spin cycle. Different scientists, different decades; the same conclusions, the same collective amnesia.
  • Here was a Westerner who had a beard, thinning lead-colored hair, and a face pulled from a Bruegel painting.
  • We squeeze into the space like clowns in a phone booth.
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