The figurative language of Ross Douthat

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I like to share interesting pieces of figurative language I encounter in my reading. I write today about similes and metaphors from Ross Douthat…

I always enjoy a good medical mystery story and the true-to-life tale of Ross Douthat certainly falls into that category.

Struck with what he believes was chronic Lyme disease — a diagnosis unrecognized by mainstream medicine — Doutat faced his first symptoms in 2015, soon after he and his family had moved to Connecticut. This is the subject of his memoir, The Deep Places.

The book also contains some fine figurative language. My favourite examples are here:

  • I lay down and tried to sleep, but felt like a tuning fork on the mattress.
  • Behind her questions I could hear the voices of her friends, good and reasonable and sensible people all, to whom she was obliged to explain what was wrong with Ross in a way that didn’t make me just sound crazy, and from whom, I could tell, she was getting advice that maybe didn’t use words like nervous breakdown but certainly tiptoed close.
  • The doctor himself looked a bit like a forest creature, with a trim build and rounded cheeks that protruded slightly, like a squirrel with a nut or two socked away inside.
  • For the young, intense physical suffering was a lightning strike; for older people it gradually became the weather.
  • I would like to say that I kept this in mind when I began dosing myself with these combinations: that I listened to my doctors, who always urged caution, and heeded my anxious wife, who worried about me pouring drugs and herbs like so much gasoline into my burning body.
  • For a long moment I stared at the ghostly buildings, the distance narrowing and widening. Then the fog eddied around the shore and swallowed them, swallowed everything the way I gulped a handful of pills — woods and rocky shore as well as buildings— while a gull screamed and the ferry’s wake boiled, the big boat carrying us northward and away.
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