The figurative language of Robin Sloan

Reading time: Less than 2 minutes

I like to share interesting pieces of figurative language I encounter in my reading. I write today about a series of metaphors and similes from Robin Sloan….

I’ve been a moderately serious home cook for many years — always baking cakes from scratch and putting up annual preserves. But I’ve never made sourdough bread.

That de rigueur item of the COVID pantry has been taken over by one of my daughters. But I’m interested enough in baking not only to want to eat the product, but also to read about it. That’s when a friend of mine recommended the novel Sourdough or Lois and Her Adventures in the Underground Market by Robin Sloan (pictured above).

I found the book to be both charming and engaging; it’s the wacky tale of a software engineer who becomes a baker. And I thought the author displayed a remarkable ear for figurative language.

  • The sky above the Crowley parking lot was gray and drippy like the undercarriage of a car.
  • I had the feeling of being sucked into a pneumatic tube.
  • Twelve minutes after I had called it in, my order from Clement Street Soup and Sourdough arrived, carried to my door by a young man with a sweet face half hidden inside a ketchup-colored motorcycle helmet.
  • The soup was so hot it burned the frustration out of me, and I went to bed feeling like a fresh plate, scalded and scraped clean.
  • There was dough on the cupboards. Dough on the faucet Dough on the floor. It looked like the scene of a glutenous murder committed by a careless killer.
  • The I pushed the oven’s rack back into place and slammed the [oven] door, just as a warden might slam the door on a prisoner, supremely evil and objectively irredeemable, banishing him to solitary confinement forever.
  • This face was long and twisted, wide-eyed and open-mouthed, Edvard Munch-like.
  • Garrett operated at a level of abstraction from food that made me look like Ina Garten.
  • My hair was longer than it had been in years, and it glowed in the sunset, the ends alight like burning filament.
  • One gray-haired goddess held it up to the light, peering through the crumb of the bread as if it were a stained-glass window.
  • I knocked, or tried. My best effort produced barely any sound; it was like knocking on a mattress.
  • Wire shelves ran straight down the long space, like an art school demonstration of perspective and foreshortening.