The figurative language of Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich

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 series of similes from Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich….

A rivetting hybrid of murder mystery and memoir, The Fact of a Body by Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich (pictured above), was named one of the best books of the 2017 by Entertainment Weekly,, Bustle, The Times of London, and The Guardian.

The story of a real life death penalty case (Ricky Langly, charged with the murder of a six-year-old), the book also weaves in the background of the real-life Marzano-Lesnevich as a young law student who had been sexually abused by her own grandfather. The book is rich, complex, multi-layered and troubling. But, wow, Marzano-Lesnevich knows how to write. Originally trained as a lawyer, she now lives in Boston and teaches at the creative writing centre Grub Street and Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.

Here is her figurative language I most enjoyed:

  • The roof has bald spots where shingles have fallen off like fur from mange.
  • Greg scales the pitched peaks of the roof. His friends climb high ladders over the windows. They cut through the air like dolphins through water, not slowed by the tape measures and wrenches that dangled from the belt loops of their cutoffs.
  • The sun spills orange and red streaks across the horizon.
  • House after house she passes has the blinds down, slots pressed together like tight white lips.
  • Over the tree line, the search beams make a cat’s cradle, and she watches the pattern change.
  • Driving at night is even worse than during the day, and she folds her body to clutch the wheel to her chest as if it were a life preserver.
  • The February air is as cold and dry as an empty room.
  • My grandfather is a surgeon of stories. He splices them together to make something new.
  • Around us, the woods thickened into a snarl.

An earlier version of this post first appeared on my blog on May 10/18.

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