The figurative language of R.O. Kwon….

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 similes and metaphors from R.O. Kwon….

R. O. Kwon (pictured above) is an American novelist. She was born in Seoul, South Korea, and grew up in Cerritos, California. She graduated from Yale University and Brooklyn College and had her debut novel The Incendiaries published to laudatory reviews earlier this year.

Here, for example, is how novelist Lauren Groff described the novel: “A God-haunted, willful, strange book written with a kind of savage elegance.” I agree with the savage elegance bit. The story of a misfit scholarship boy and his glamorous but grieving girlfriend who ends up being subsumed by a cult, the book is intense and just a little bit odd.

That said, I found the figurative language of R.O. Kwon to be entrancing. Here are my favourite examples:

  • The lax blue of L.A., heat-rippled, veiled the horizon. Like curtains, I thought, poised to rise.
  • Punch-stained red cups split underfoot, opening into plastic petals.
  • The room clattered into motion, rising to spin.
  • It [depression] is a crack across the brain, she explained. It lets sadness in.
  • A torn roll steamed; butter liquified. Oil dropped, gilding white porcelain.
  • Tall lindens stood bare, stripped by the cold, but still they raised their limbs in hallelujah.
  • Winter softened into spring, and mossed obelisks pointed on high.
  • I watched him smile, each wide tooth showing. It was like a picket fence swinging open: his smile invited me inside.
  • I nibbled slices [of apple] between scales, the late-afternoon sun oiling the top of my head like a benediction, a sign of grace.
  • Lines of cars sped past, cutting long scars in the slush.
  • Nights, I was in the habit of spilling the bottle of prescribed sedatives onto the bedside table to look at the pills scattered white, like dice.
  • I drifted the streets in the milk heat of late mornings.

An earlier version of this post first appeared on my blog on Nov. 1/18.

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