The figurative language of John Boyne…

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

I find the Irish writer John Boyne to be remarkably versatile. The first book of his I read, A History of Loneliness, tackled the difficult topic of childhood sexual abuse by priests. Moreover, he approached it in a particularly sensitive way.

His more recent work, The Echo Chamber, offers an amusing look at social media, as expressed through the eyes of a privileged (and dim-witted) family in modern day London.

As always, Boyne has a keen eye and ear for figurative language. Here are my favourite examples:

  • Achilles glanced up at [the TV] and saw his father in conversation with Mick Jagger, both of them laughing like a couple of puffed-up old peacocks who knew they were richer, more famous and had far brighter plumage than any of the mere mortals watching them.
  • ‘And does he have a boyfriend?’ ‘Oh God, no,’ said Achilles, laughing. ‘He’s so far back in the closet he’s got one foot in Narnia.’
  • He claimed never to use whitening strips [for teeth], saying they were bad for the environment, but those gnashers sparkled like a clutch of blood diamonds hanging around Naomi Campbell’s neck.
  • The two men took a seat opposite each other, manspreading with such ferocity that a sturdy bridge could have been constructed between their crotches.
  • “[Wokesters are] constantly alert to every injustice in society, every perceived slight, and who are just desperate to let you know when they’ve found one. They seek them out with all the urgency of truffling pigs.”
  • ‘I don’t really know,’ he said, scratching the place where his beard might have been, had puberty done its job more efficiently.
  • The line of cars began to move at least and she pressed her foot on the accelerator, inching forward so the front of her Audi and the bumper of the Prius ahead were practically kissing.
  • ‘Well, perhaps,’ admitted Wilkes, sounding a little crestfallen, as if he’d been told that the Tooth Fairy didn’t exist just after he’d lost a particularly impressive molar.
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