The figurative language of Mark Salzman

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 metaphors and similes from Mark Salzman…

There are two reasons to read the excellent 2012 book The Man in the Empty Boat written by Mark Salzman.

First, it tells the story of one professional writer’s struggle with writer’s block (and it has a happy ending).

Second, it contains some marvellous figurative language. Here are my favourite examples:

  • Anxiety and depression run so strongly through our family that if you were to draw our family tree, it would look like a weeping willow.
  • In some of us, however, the anxiety doesn’t know when to quit. It becomes like a software virus that replicates itself endlessly.
  • This is where the phrase “have a little faith” would seem to apply, but if Godless Universe 4.0 is your operating system, your hard drive will reject most faith-based programs, and there are times when that can seem like a major disadvantage.
  • Welcome to Paradox World, the theme park that you can never leave, because you carry it around with you!
  • Come to think of it, education in general often seemed to me to be like a giant spanking machine. You crawled your way through it simply to prove that you could make it through; at the end, you got your diploma and your life could finally begin.
  • She [Salzman’s wife] is to creativity what Old Faithful is to geysers: bountiful, inexhaustible, and…well, faithful.
  • There is no muscle you can squeeze in order to produce better ideas or come up with good ideas faster.
  • It [having children] would be, I had insisted, like throwing a drowning man a life vest made out of concrete.
  • If anguish is like a software virus, then the feeling you get when you hold your own baby for the first time is like a software vaccine.
  • Being around her stilled my own mind in a way that deliberate exercises like mediation never could; the sight of her shone so brightly in my mind that ideas and inner conflict all got lost in the glare.

Mark Salzman is an interesting and exceptionally clear writer who has given a great deal of thought to the writing process. Read his book to learn more about how to face your own struggles.

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