The figurative language of Paul Theroux…

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 metaphors from Paul Theroux…

I have not read a great deal of Paul Theroux. When younger, I devoured his very funny non-fiction book The Kingdom By The Sea, the story of his travels — as an American — in Great Britain. Later, I enjoyed his novel The Mosquito Coastthe fictional story of a cantankerous father who moves his family to the jungles of Central America. (In truth, however, I thought that Barbara Kingsolver handled a similar theme more skillfully in The Poisonwood Bible.)

More recently, I picked up Theroux’s rather thin 1969 novel, Murder in Mount Holly, and while I found it mildly amusing, it also reminded me why I don’t usually bother reading murder mysteries (even ones that are meant to be lampoons). Still, Theroux had some fine figurative language in this very short book. Here are my favourite examples:

  • His laughter came in bursts, like a tire-pump being plunged very quickly.
  • “I’ve raised you good, she would say in her suety voice, her lips never touching.”
  • It took nearly the entire night to alter the jacket and trousers, but by morning —and a beautiful morning it was, the sun shining, the nasturtiums about ready to burst and bleed they were so full of color and sun — she was finished.