The figurative language of Roxana Robinson…

Reading time: About 2 minutes

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

Roxana Robinson is the author of 11 books—seven novels, three collections of short stories, and the biography of Georgia O’Keeffe.

I can no longer recall who or what brought me to her most recent novel, Leaving, but I found it interesting — in both the positive and the negative senses of the word. I liked the author’s ability to present compelling, fully fleshed characters. But I disliked the romance-novel “feel” of the book and I particularly disliked the ending.

Still, Robinson has considerable skill with figurative language. Here are my favourite examples:

  • The [restaurant] kitchen is like a silent movie, the workers framed, frenetic, soundless.
  • The dog shows the flexible tip of her raspberry tongue, then closes her mouth politely.
  • Dogs allow you to embrace them with your arms, but they embrace you only in their minds.
  • Then [the dog] spreads herself out on the floor like a flag, her long legs crossed like scissors, finally certain that Sarah will not leave.
  • Now [the post-renovation kitchen] is cold and echoing, black and gray, like an abattoir.
  • On the way home it starts to rain, and the windshield glitters silver.
  • She does all things quickly, her manner perfunctory and condescending, like a math genius asked to do short division at a party.
  • Jeff’s field is string theory. Sarah has asked him about it, but the very idea empties her mind. She can’t manage to hold his answers in her head.
  • She wants to bathe both children before dinner, but this project is like dragging heavy sacks through a swamp.
  • She has seen [this view] at dawn, before the wind comes up, when the water is dark silk.
  • Small children take no responsibility for their limbs; it’s like dressing a noodle.
  • Now there are small barbs embedded in [conversation], like toast crumbs in honey.
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