His face was like curtains parting…

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 metaphors and similes from Susan Jane Gilman…

The non-fiction memoir, Undress Me In the Temple of Heaven, by Susan Jane Gilman, was recommended to me by an email book list. It had a title — something like, “45 books you must read this year” — and because I was going to be travelling this fall, I bought it for the plane ride.

I didn’t love the book. I found the writing too uneven. But, wow, Gilman can sure put together a good metaphor or simile. Here were my seven favourites:

  • I’d lived my whole live around mercurial people. My mother was practically her own weather system.
  • I was coughing nonstop now: a deep, tubercular hacking; most of the other passengers on board the bus had it, too. We were a hallelujah chorus of contagion.
  • The man smiled. His brown eyes crinkled; his face was like curtains parting.
  • Her voice is the aural equivalent of a plush toy: velvety, comforting, preposterously cheerful.
  • I’m coughing so much at this point, I can barely complete a sentence; I sound like a truck engine idling.
  • You can sit in a hot tub outdoors and watch the rising steam swirl and dissolve in the mountain air like condensed milk.
  • [The plane] banked sharply to the left, then plunged toward what looked like a tongue depressor, a tiny spit of land jutting into a titanium sea.


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