The figurative language of Katie Williams…

Reading time: About 1 minute

I like to share interesting pieces of figurative language I encounter in my reading. I write today about a series of similes from author Katie Williams…

How is technology changing your life? Perhaps you’re walking more because of your Fitbit? Maybe you’re able to take away more books with you when you go travelling, thanks to your e-reader? You’re almost certainly spending more time on your phone, even if you’re not really talking to anyone.

The impact of technology on our lives is the theme of a wonderful new science fiction novel by Katie Williams, Tell the Machine Goodnight. I rarely append adjectives like “wonderful” to nouns like “science fiction,” (I’m not a fan of the genre) but this book is quite marvellous.

It tells the story of a new technology that is able to predict which specific actions will make people happier. Predictable chaos ensues.

But what appealed most to me was the figurative voice of the author, Katie Williams, who has a great ear for simile. Here are my favourite examples:

  • The Home Management System interrupted Pearl’s focus, its soft librarian tones alerting her that Rhett had just entered the lobby.
  • Her arms were plump and liver-spotted with a fine mesh of lines at elbow and wrist, as if she wore her wrinkles like bracelets, like sleeves.
  • What they don’t understand is that my condition is a symptom of me. That I am a stone buried deep in the ground, something that will never grow no matter how good the dirt.
  • It hadn’t been the divorce, which Elliot and Pearl had made sure was amicable, donning their mutual politeness like flak jackets.
  • The lawyer my father hired was expensive, his neckties in soft colors, like paint swatches selected for the nursery walls.
  • As she walked past the photographers, Calla’s fear unfolded like a sheet shaken out and lifted so that it caught the air.
  • When Dad told me she’d left the news was a quick throb and fade, the emotional equivalent of hitting your thumb with a hammer.
  • The grass is uncut, whispering at my calves, and every few strides a flock of tiny yellow birds rises from it in a puff.
  • It used to be precious, Elliot’s sleeping face unclothed of its ceaseless charm, like a peeled lychee, something pale and vulnerable only she was allowed to see.
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