The dirt is artfully compiled and obsessively organized…

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 metaphor relating to a new book about the writer Joan Didion…

I’m a huge fan of the writer Joan Didion. Two of her books — The Year of Magical Thinking and Blue Nights — remain lifetime favourites of mine. Thus, I read with particular interest a review of a new biography on her by Tracey Daugherty, titled The Last Love Song.

The review appeared in the Globe & Mail newspaper, Aug 29/15, in a column by Stacey May Fowles, headlined “Magical Thinking.” Here is what Daugherty had to say:

No new ground is broken, but instead the dirt is artfully compiled and obsessively organized, making the book engaging if not revelatory.

I liked the way Fowles took a cliché — “no new ground is broken” — and rendered it artful and interesting by extending it in a clever manner. I love that image of piles of dirt be arranged and organized. (I also like the play on words with “dirt” meaning both earth and gossip.)

Subliminally, organizing dirt suggests something that a child might do. I’m not certain if Fowles intended her comment to be that pointed, but it made me think that, perhaps, if I want to learn about Joan Didion, I should simply read her own books more carefully.