The figurative language of Mary Choi…

Reading time: About 1 minute

I like to share interesting pieces of figurative language I encounter in my reading. I write today about similes and metaphors from Mary Choi….

I have three sisters so I’m always up for novels exploring the often-crazy dynamics of family relationships. The delightful novel Yolk, by Mary Choi falls into this category.

The story focuses on Korean sisters Jayne and June Baek who moved from Seoul with their family, to San Antonio, Texas, then, together, to New York. After that, they don’t want anything to do with each other. That is, until June gets cancer. And Jayne becomes the only one who can help her.

While I didn’t like the end of the story as much as the beginning or middle, Mary Choi’s enormous facility with figurative language deeply impressed me. Here are my favourite examples:

  • “I can,” she says through her teeth, crinkling her eyes and nodding in a way that suggests she’s garroting him in her mind.
  • She has bleached blonde hair, brown eyes, and is the kind of pale where the blue tributaries of her veins are so close to the surface that her forehead reminds me of those glowing babies in fetal development pictures.
  • Growing up in Texas means that you only ever need denim jackets and hoodies and maybe a peacoat if you want to be pumpkin spice latte about it.
  • She has Vantablack hair. It’s the kind of black where no light escapes. Its blackness is as eye-catching as neon.
  • It’s that clattering mayhem of a fifteen-year-old Eastern European couture model on a catwalk, were the hips and knees slice through the air several feet ahead of her chest and arms, which dangle way back. From the side she looks like she’s limboing.
  • She scoops up the escaped peppercorns. They look like tiny cannonballs.
  • Behind it [in the fridge] are stacks of takeout containers and a petrified slice of red velvet cake in a plastic clamshell that hasn’t’ been shut. It looks like a wax sculpture.
  • We are not big criers in our house. Once, a long time ago, Dad burst into tears, and June and I just backed away from him as if he were plutonium.
  • The bottoms of the produce drawers looked like the contents of a shark’s stomach during an autopsy.
  • My brain may as well be an animal in a carrier. I can sense that I’m going somewhere and that it’s most likely going to be unpleasant, but there’s nothing I can do about it.
  • Compared to how she’s looked I the past month, it’s almost as if she’s wearing a prosthetic face.
Scroll to Top