Maria Semple and her figurative language…

Reading time: Less than 1 minute

I like to share interesting pieces of figurative language I encounter in my reading. I write today about similes and metaphors from American writer Maria Semple…

American novelist and screenwriter Maria Semple (pictured above) earned her first writing credit in 1992 for the television show Beverly Hills, 90210Later, in 1997, she won a Primetime Emmy, for Outstanding Television Series, for Mad About You.  I knew none of this when I read her very funny novel, Where’d You Go, Bernadette? while on a brief holiday earlier this summer.

If you are still looking for a good beach read, grab this book. It’s the amusing story of a whip-smart 15-year-old whose opinionated mother goes missing right when the Seattle-based family is supposed to be heading off to an Antarctic junket. The New York Times‘ Janet Maslin calls the book “comedy heaven,” and she’s right on the money.

Maria Semple also knows how to spin some fine figurative language. Here are my favourite examples:

  • Bernadette and her enthusiasm were like a hippo and water: get between them and you’ll be trampled to death.
  • I love the gray-green-putty colors against the leafless cherry trees and Japanese maples.
  • It looked like a wax museum diorama of an origami presentation.
  • An iceberg means it’s tens of millions of years old and has calved from a glacier…I saw hundreds of them, cathedrals of ice, rubbed like salt licks; shipwrecked, polished from wear like marble steps at the Vatican…
  • The sky in Seattle is so low, it felt like God had lowered a silk parachute over us.

I saw the movie (starring Cate Blanchett) a few years after reading the book and found it to be a surprisingly unfunny film. If you found the movie disappointing, don’t let it stop you from reading the book. Maria Semple’s book is terrific.

An earlier version of this post first appeared on my blog on July 17/17.

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