Like shirts flapping on a clothesline

Reading time: About 1 minute

I like to share interesting pieces of figurative language I encounter in my reading. I write today about a simile from Kim Echlin.

Going on holiday, for me, is all about reading. Why then, did I go out of town a few weeks ago with no books and a mostly empty Kindle?

I don’t know what I was thinking! Fortunately, there was a bookstore on the island. And the cottage in which we were staying had plenty of excellent reading. One of those books included The Disappeared by Kim Echlin.

Echlin’s novel tells the story of a young Montreal student who falls in love with a Cambodian musician who is temporarily stranded in Canada when his border is closed in the mid-1970s. He disappears (back to Cambodia) and years later she goes to track him down.

Of course I was familiar with the Cambodian genocide. In fact, back when I was a student of political science, one of my classmates had written his thesis on Pol Pot. But I had never before truly comprehended the state of the horror. About 25% of the population was wiped out.

Despite the grim facts, the novel is lyrically written. Here is my favourite simile — nothing to do with war — from the book.

Charlotte and the girls at my table were putting on their coats, puling bags over their shudders, flipping their long hair from inside warm collars like shirts flapping on a clothesline, and I said to them, See you. 

From my own high school days, I can recall girls flipping their long hair outside of their coats and it was exactly like shirts flapping in the breeze. A perfect simile.