Michael Crummey’s figurative language

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

I’m not a fan of the way celebrated Newfoundland writer Michael Crummey plots his novels. Still, I really like the way he writes. I think my affection comes from the way he handles his figurative language.

In his book The Wreckage, which I wrote about three years ago, I disliked the plot while appreciating his imagery. And again, with his more recent book, The Innocents, I also found the plot (about an orphaned brother and sister in rural Newfoundland) off-putting, yet admired his poetic language — particularly his use of simile.

Here are my favourite examples: 

  • But nothing apparent happened for the rest of the morning and into the afternoon, the recurring contractions like knots in an endless string unwinding through the day.
  • She had the air of a badly made doll stuffed with sawdust that had suddenly come to life.
  • Whenever he happened to glance up at the tilt the bewildering enormity of what his sister was witnessing first-hand caught him unawares, like taking a gale of wind broadside to the boat as it cleared a point of land.
  • The could feel the cold razoring off the frigid surface through the little clothes they wore and Ada shivered against it.
  • He read periodically from the black book in his hands his voice like a spadeful of gravel against wood.
  • But even days of stomach cramps and the bedevilment of diarrhea weren’t enough to make them swear off eating the dark fruit, their lips and teeth blackened like the mouths of ghouls in a medieval painting of hell.
  • He was a smallish man and their mother just a skiver of bone and sinew, both of them tough as corded rope.
  • Backed away like someone trying to exit a room without disturbing a sleeping dog.
  • He took an elbow across the bridge of his nose and the shock of it made his head buzz like a a hive of bees.
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