She dimmed her eyes to fine crystal points…

Reading time: Less than 2 minutes

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

I read the novel To Rise Again at a Decent Hour — by Joshua Ferris — on the strength of a recommendation by a friend whose judgement I trust implicitly. Regretfully, I found the plot laboured and confusing and not very interesting.

But the writing, oh, the writing! Even though I didn’t like this book very much, I’m eager to read more of what Joshua Ferris has to say. Here is some of his writing that should illustrate why…

  • We were running hand in hand at breakneck speed toward the cliff of endless love, but she stopped short just as I upshifted, so that I ran straight off without her and hung there for a second like in a cartoon, trying to find the ground beneath me, but there was no ground, and I plummeted.
  • She dimmed her eyes to fine crystal points, trying to discern my motive.
  • Even the bankers of Wall Street look like infants when they are reclined in the [dentist’s] chair and bibbed in blue. It would not be unreasonable to pick them up and rock them in your arms, if that were only part of the early training.
  • He was reading his me-machine [smart phone] when I sat down chairside. His fingers swiped and daubed at the touchscreen, coloring in all the details of a fine landscape of self.
  • A glitch in the soul produced that delay between his breaking off from the machine and his return handshake. He tucked the thing away in his pants pocket where it buzzed and trilled with approximations of nature.
  • The heat wave rippled and steamed in the atomic air. The sun, everywhere and nowhere, panted down the shafts and corridors of the city filling the streets with a debilitation throb. It produced pore-level discomfort in me and my fellow pedestrians. Sweat clung to every lip and pit. Taxis thrummed with sunlight. Awnings crackled with it. Tar fillings ran soft and gooey down the streets, while every leaf, stunned into a perfect stillness, lay curled up in terror.
  • The only signs of age on him [a billionaire] were the Earl Grey bags under his half-moon eyes and a neck just starting to loosen. He looked just like you or me, except he had enough money to buy all of Manhattan south of Canal.

Similes, metaphors and personification. Some of the most useful tools in the writer’s arsenal, shown here with great skill. My favourite? I like the one comparing the bankers of Wall Street to babies, when they are in the dentist’s chair.

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