The figurative language of Jonathan Lee

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 similes and metaphors from Jonathan Lee…

The novel High Dive has an arresting plot. It’s the fictionalized re-telling of an attempt to kill British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in 1984, while she was attending a Conservative Party conference in Brighton.

But more than that, it also has spectacularly rich figurative writing by the British born and New York-based writer Jonathan Lee (pictured above.)

Here are the metaphors, similes and personification that appealed to me most:

  • The weather this morning was storybook pure. Big yellow sun. Smooth blue sky. A single white cloud as drawn by a child.
  • They passed a Labrador walking a lightweight woman.
  • On days when ambition and regret got the better of him, when lost opportunities stuck to his shoes like bubble gum gone to ground and created ugly slouching strings that halted progress, he told himself that all human life was here.
  • Hospitality involved an aspect of surface flattery but also of deep familiarity. It was a peculiar combination of density and gauze.
  • The breakfast crowd parted as she waved her stick on a low axis from side to side, as if it were white and she were blind, the wood knocking at shins and kneecaps, opening a path to where the best table was.
  • A guest asked for his key. He had a thick officious moustache on his clammy top lip. It looked like it had crawled there in the search for a warm place to die.
  • She thought about admitting that up until last month she’d thought Oxbridge was an actual place, rather than two places made to mate as if by way of a posh schoolboy prank.
  • The nails were perfectly attended to, but the flesh around the knuckles was weathered. Slight bumps, pretty gullies, prominent estuaries of faint blue veins around which wrinkles formed.
  • “About what?” Freya said, but no answer came. She watched her friend standing up, her long legs unfolding awkwardly, the motion bringing to mind the setting up of an ironing board.
  • As the man’s face became a plum that ripened and promised to rot as the nurse stood there nodding, smiling, head inclined to the side, as if researching an essay on rage.
  • He looked defeated by this, shoulders sagging around his breastbone like a tent around a pole.
  • The first trickle of dawn was breaking egg yolk in the sky.
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