The figurative language of Sara Baume…

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 Sara Baume…

When I finished the very fine novel Spill, Simmer, Falter, Wither  earlier this month, I was electrified by the figurative writing of author Sara Baume (pictured above). Her ability with language is amazing. Here are some of my favourite examples from her remarkable book about an older man and his dog:

  • He’s a triangular man. Loafy shoulders tapering into flagpole legs, the silhouette of a root vegetable.
  • There was a time when my hair was black as a rook with flashes of electric blue in certain lights at certain angles, now it’s splotched with grey like a disheveled jackdaw.
  • Now if your lost eye was inside your maggot nose you’d see a field of rape (canola) at its yellow zenith against a backdrop of velvet grey, which is the sky.
  • This curtain of wooden beds hides the bathroom, and when they get stirred up they make a noise like a landslide of Tic Tacs, like a leak in a button factory.
  • There is singing, singing, singing. It is sweet and undulating, like a finger licked and drawn around the rim of a wine glass, like a whole chorus of glasses similarly molested.
  • All along the road through the forest to the refinery, see how foxgloves split from their buds and tremble over the ditches.
  • You yap with your whole body, as if each yap were a volt of electricity, cracking through you from whiskers to tail.
  • My father had a laugh like a rainstick, like a thousand grains of raw rice bounding about inside his throat.
  • Caring for you is like keeping a nettle in a pretty porcelain flowerpot, watering its roots and pruning its vicious needles no matter how cruelly it stings my skin, until I’m  pink and puffy all over yet still worrying the old welts back to life.
  • See how all the cars have car faces, headlamp eyes and a shiny-toothed number-plate smirk.


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