The figurative language of Meg Mason…

Reading time: About 2 minutes

I like to share interesting pieces of figurative language I encounter in my reading. I write today about a series of similes from Meg Mason…

Meg Mason began her writing career as a journalist. She started with newspapers including The Financial Times and The Times, London. Then, she moved to magazines such as Vogue, ELLE, Marie Claire, GQ, Sunday Style and The New Yorker.

Now, she writes novels, the most recent of which, Sorrow & Bliss, was published in 2021. Despite being very funny, and a bestseller, it is a (sensitive) novel about mental illness.

For me, the remarkable aspect of Meg Mason’s writing is her skill with figurative language. Here are my favourite examples:

  • But neither of us cared much that things that broke were never repaired, that the towels were always rarely changed, that every night my father cooked chops on a sheet of tin foil laid over the piece from the night before, so that the bottom of the oven gradually became a mille-feuille of fat and foil.
  • …she began wearing sack dresses; waistless, muslin or linen, invariably purple, layered over one another, so that their uneven hems fell around her ankles like corners of a tablecloth.
  • Normal people say, I can’t imagine feeling so bad I’d genuinely want to die. I do not try and explain that it isn’t that you want to die. It is that you know you are not supposed to be alive, feeling a tiredness that powders your bones, a tiredness with so much fear.
  • They [medications] felt like plastic in my mouth and leave behind the paste of shampoo.
  • The music was extraordinary. The sensation was physical, like warm water being washed over a wound, agonizing and cleansing and curative.
  • The first person to say anything aloud was Rowland, who had come in last and was standing in front of the fireplace with his elbow on the mantle like someone posing for a full-length portrait in oil.
  • I worked out how to eat an apple in absolute silence – by cutting it into sixteenths and holding each piece in my mouth until it dissolved like a wafer.
  • [She] sent me home with a sample of herbal sleep tonic that tasted like supermarket salad leaves that had decomposed in the bag.
  • Patrick had been so concerned not to hurt me it was like having an adhesive bandage removed from a wound, peeled away from the corner too slowly, with such excessive care that before the wet flesh is halfway exposed you want to rip it off yourself.
  • I had cried enough that the skin on my cheeks felt sore and tight like it had been soaked and over scrubbed.
  • My mother was sitting on a chair, straddling it like Liza Minnelli, and doing some sort of performance.
  • I meant Ingrid for lunch in Primrose Hill. It was the first time she had left the baby, even though he was eight months old. I asked her if she missed him. She said she felt like she had just got out of a high-security prison.
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