Julia Phillip’s figurative language…

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 Julia Phillips. 

I think it was the New York Times book review podcast that introduced me to the writing of Julia Phillips (pictured above). What a find! She’s a sharp, disciplined writer who has turned a genre on its head.

In the hands of Julia Phillips, a murder mystery becomes something far more nuanced and literary. (I get many good recommendations from the NYT podcast. You should check it out as well.)

In addition to offering an engaging plot, Julia Phillips’ book, Disappearing Earth, contains some sophisticated figurative language. Here are my favourite examples:

  • Sophia stood to face the water. It was calm, barely touched by ripples that made the bay look like a sheet of hammered tin.
  • Olya was nice even as the words piled up like pebbles in her throat.
  • Diana was still pale blond and oval-faced, and her mouth was red, bright red, exciting like the lacquer of a new car.
  • Her eyelashes has faced from startling white to transparency. In one minute she was lovely and in the next she was a ghost.
  • Valentina had skipped lunch. She was empty as a box bobbing in the sea.
  • In the bright bands of her bikini, her skin below yellowed ivory, her bobbed hair swinging, Masha looked sophisticated enough to have skipped childhood altogether.
  • The night was an immense windowless room.
  • The cold grabbed her lungs in two fists.
  • Her security door stuck into the hallway like a dislocated finger.
  • When she woke up in the silver middle of the night, she turned toward him for comfort. They lay facing each other like two parentheses.
  • She opened the glove compartment, pulled out a sanitizing wipe, and leaned over the kiss her husband on the cheek. The car bloomed with the smell of rubbing alcohol.
  • She pled and sobbed on the evening news in an attempt to bring a breakthrough in the case. She was a fish ripped open for the reporting. Her wet guts spilled out.
  • Alla Innokentevna’s expression broke open, a split fruit, exposing four years of rotten loss.