My entire childhood felt like a lie…

Word count: 224 words

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 novelist Neil Gaiman.

The book The Ocean at the End of the Lane, by Neil Gaiman, (pictured above), is one of the finest novels I’ve read all year. Gaiman has an uncanny ability to throw himself back into childhood. You’d swear the novel had been written by an extraordinarily articulate seven-year-old.

Take a look at this remarkably crafted 64-word sentence:

When I was much older he [the boy’s father] confessed to me that he had not ever liked burnt toast had only eaten it to prevent it from going to waste, and, for a fraction of a moment, my entire childhood felt like a lie: it was as if one of the pillars of belief that my world had been built upon had crumbled into dry sand. 

A father’s falsehood about how he felt about burned toast, can cause his son’s entire childhood to feel like a lie. Doesn’t that simile perfectly capture the melodramatic nature of seven-year-old reasoning? I also like the way Gaiman was able to construct a 64-word sentence and still maintain its complete readability.

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