Like a game of badminton…

Reading time: Less than 1 minute

I like to share interesting pieces of figurative language I encounter in my reading. I write today about a simile from Martin Cruz Smith…

I read, a lot — a minimum of 52 books each year. (See my latest summary here.) That’s why I find it relatively easy to round up figurative language every Thursday. But I always appreciate it when readers or colleagues send me their own examples of evocative language.

Today’s comes from my colleague Yehudit Reishstein. She found it in the 2007 suspense novel Stalin’s Ghost by Martin Cruz Smith. Here is the simile Smith employed:

His relationship with Zurin had deteriorated to a game like badminton, in which each player took mighty swings that feebly propelled loathing back and forth.

I know that badminton is a serious sport. The son of a friend of mine plays it competitively. Still, I also know how the game looks. The shuttlecock or birdie is so light and aerodynamically stable that the game appears easygoing, almost desultory.

For this reason, the image resonates for me. And I particularly like the clever way Martin Cruz Smith juxtaposes the word “feebly” with “propelled.” And I also enjoy the way he personifies the emotion of loathing, comparing it to something that be be tossed back and forth over a net.

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