Rachel Neumeier

Fantasy and Young Adult Fantasy Author

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Metaphors

Here at Kill Zone Blog, an interesting post about metaphors:

I don’t want to burst your bubble, but coming up with metaphors and similes is hard. Bad ones are a dime a dozen and coming up with good ones is like banging your head against a brick wall. You will be tempted to farm the over-tilled soil, tread the road already taken, resort to the tried and true. But you have to look through the rain to see the rainbow.

The author of the post, PJ Parrish, draws especially on TS Elliot for examples of metaphors — also Carl Sandburg:

Elliot’s fog — “a yellow smoke that rubs its muzzle on the window-panes, licked its tongue into the corners of the evening.”

Compared with Sandburg’s fog, which — “comes in on little cat feet and sits looking over the harbor on its haunches before it moves on.”

I remember that last line, which stood out for me in high school. In general I didn’t care for anything assigned in high school, but I did like poetry. I still do, though I don’t often seek any out.

You know what stands out to me for beautiful use of metaphor and simile in a contemporary work? The Sky is Everywhere by Nelson. The whole story is like one extended poem about grief and recovery. If that doesn’t instantly appeal to you, let me add that it’s one of best books I’ve read in the past decade. The use of language is definitely one reason why that’s true:

His face is more open than an open book, like a wall of graffiti really.

According to all the experts, it’s time for me to talk about what I’m going through….I can’t. I’d need a new alphabet, one made of falling, of tectonic plates shifting, of the deep devouring dark.

Silence tick-tocks between us, as it does lately.

My eyes move from the lilacs cascading down the path to the several parties of daffodils gossiping in the breeze to the indisputable fact that springtime has shoved off its raincoat and is just prancing about.

I can’t say I’d want to read prose like this all the time — it’s certainly not suitable to every kind of story — but it’s perfect in Nelson’s lovely book. I’ve bought two extra copies to give away so far, to people who were dealing with grief, but you certainly needn’t have suffered a recent bereavement to read The Sky is Everywhere.

In fact, you might enjoy Nelson’s novel more during a happy springtime when the very possibility of bereavement seems inconceivable.

Here at the start of winter, you might prefer this one:

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