You are moved by the bond…

Reading time: Just over 1 minute

I like to share interesting pieces of figurative language I encounter in my reading. I write today about some similes from Phyllis Rose.

I am a profligate reader. I told you earlier that a friend of mine had given me a copy of The Shelf: Adventures in Extreme Reading by Phyllis Rose.

Today, I’d like to share some of Rose’s very fine writing. It turns out that Rose is not only a consummate and versatile reader, she’s also a marvellous writer, too. And she has a keen eye for simile and metaphor. Here are four of my favourites from her bravura book:

  • The instant I selected my shelf, I felt an immense tenderness for it. As when a puppy is put into your arms for the first time, or even more so, too much so, a child. The sense of pure potential might be depressing, your sense of your own responsibility exhausting, but it is not. It is exhilarating. You are at the start of something together. You are moved by the bond.
  • Hovering over a work of fiction for merely a lifetime is the job of the literary critic, who is to a book reviewer as a pediatrician is to a midwife.
  • Confronted by the 768-page bulk of Gil Blas, I felt at the edge of a channel I didn’t have the energy to swim. Everyone has his own technique for entering the water. I sneak up on it, get as little wet as possible at first, and even pretend I have no intention of swimming. I trick myself into immersion. With novels, I sometimes read the introduction or find out about the writer’s life or, these days check for interviews on YouTube. I pretend I’m not reading until, suddenly, I find myself in it up to my neck.
  • Hands down the worst book on the shelf is Le Queux’s Three Knots, a mystery that reads as if it were written by an eight-year-old on Percocet.

Read her book. It’s an education in reading. And writing.

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