The figurative language of Leah McLaren…

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 images from Leah McLaren…

Memoir is my favourite genre. Nevertheless, I knew I was taking something of a risk this summer when I picked up a  new memoir by Leah McLaren, Where You End and I Begin.

Notoriously self-involved, McLaren used to be a columnist for the Globe & Mail in Canada, and is currently the London-based correspondent for McLean’s Magazine. The new book gives her the opportunity to go on, relentlessly, about herself. It’s also worth mentioning that her mother, the author Cecily Ross, has accused McLaren of appropriating her own personal story of sexual assault.

In any case, I did find some of McLaren’s figurative language to be redemptive. Here are my favourite examples:

  • Lucy grew into a big fluffy cat with glittering green eyes who lived in a perpetual state of psychosis. She was seductive and affectionate, with a great plume of a tail, but also violent and unpredictable.
  • I flopped down on the sofa beside her and inhaled the woody scent of the thin Cuban cigars she’d recently taken to smoking, Just one a night, she said, though even one a night soon gave her a cough that sounded like a gravel pit being dredged before breakfast.
  • I shrugged and read the inscription again, a smile buttering itself across my face.
  • I held up my ribbons, grinned lamely, but she breathlessly brushed them aside, and folded me into a hug so tight and familiar, I wished I could move into it and sign a ten-year lease.
  • The buffet is a royal wedding feast: platters of prawns the size of baby fists….
  • The last bit [of the baby’s birth] involved a vacuum and scalpel, forceps and a wailing alarm that summoned a crowd of trainee doctors who piled into the birth room like a somber Broadway chorus line.
  • I close my eyes and dip my head to one side, shaking it gently as if I am trying to drain the confusion like sea water from my ear.
  • It’s cool and cloudy, and the lake is fresh and green as pickle brine.
  • The wife, a TV writer, has short hair that curls owlishly around her temples. Her small mouth shimmers like the inside of a clamshell.
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