Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Annoyed by Metaphors

I've started to read another Indie Australian novel—Let Sleeping Dogs Lie by Dianne Gray.

I might end up liking it or even loving it. But, so far, I'm not having a good time with it. That being said, I'm only on the first chapter.  There's time for the book to grow on me.

What's bothering me about the book, so far, is there are a lot of metaphors. This is totally a personal thing. I imagine some people love metaphors. I'm not one of them; at least when it comes to physical descriptions. And on that note, I should add I'm not a big fan of physical description period. A little bit is fine...good. I don't like when it's excessive.

The first metaphor in Let Sleeping Dogs Lie is The corpse of a rock wallaby lay on the side of the road like an old brown blanket draped over door knobs.

I totally don't get that. Why would multiple door knobs be covered with a brown blanket? Is it like in a hardware store? Someone's attic? I can tolerate, and even enjoy, an occasional metaphor because sometimes they help you picture things you wouldn't be able to picture otherwise. But I'm not personally familiar with covered door knobs. I think I'm more likely to be able to visualize road kill.

I might be better off with a book that talks about a guy going into his attic. There's a bunch of unused doorknobs covered in a blanket. And the author says, The covered doorknobs looked like a dead marsupial on an Australian highway. 

I have less problems with the next metaphor. Actually, I kind of like it. His dark eyes held a sense of danger; like a campfire that could easily flare at any moment and ignite the countryside.

The reason I like that metaphor might because it's less about appearances and more about feelings.

I'm not sure I like this one. He watched the birds explode into the sky like coloured fireworks before they settled, slapping, and gossiping their way back to the fruit for another season of drunken oblivion.

I can kind of visualize it. It's like when a bunch of birds suddenly leave the trees together. When that happens, it IS kind of like fireworks. I think I'd just leave out the word explode. Because with that word, I end up imagining a bunch of dead birds being shot out into the sky.

The next metaphor: Holding disembodied eyeballs up to the light like diamonds. I think what she's trying to say is that the character studying eyeballs is like diamond-expert-people holding up diamonds to study them. I can totally picture someone examining a diamond. But the way the sentence is phrased, it sounds to me like she's saying eyeballs are like diamonds.

Then we have a guy spitting into the some water. It's...ripped away with the current like a child on a waterslide. That's kind of cute. And gross.

I'm not sure I get this one. The bike roared with a twist of his wrist before rattling over the wooden planks of the bridge like a child's fingers over piano keys. Is the visual like the kid's fingers on the piano? Or the audio? I don't think it would sound like a piano. But I don't think a bike on a bridge would strongly resemble small fingers on a keyboard.

One thing I should add is I'm not a fan of poetry. I think fans of poetry would be more likely to enjoy metaphors in prose.

 I'm also not someone who pays attention to how words are put together. To me, writing is about the story. I want to get lost in the book. I want to forget that I'm reading words created by an author. Now there's something not quite right or true with what I said. Because, in order for me to get lost in a book, the writer has to write well. They have to be good with words. I just don't want to notice that they're good with words.

Sometimes I will love a passage in a book because it expresses a deep thought or some humor that I can relate to. Or it makes me say, Wow! I never thought of that before.

Other people like passages in books because the language is beautiful. They love the choice of words used, and they notice the words. I usually don't...if I'm enjoying the book.

Speaking of quoting books, at times I've been on hiatus, I kept up a little bit with this blog by creating a collection of Aussie quotes. Most of it's from books, but there are other things as well.

I'm actually curious if I have any metaphors on it.

Ah! There is one. It's from David Malouf's Fly Away PeterIt was at first the voice of a child, and then, with hardly a change of tone, it was the voice of a querulous old man, who had asked for little and had been given less and spent his whole life demanding his due. 

I love this one. It's from Passing Remarks by Helen Hodgman.font-family: You know how it is when you break up with someone and they vanish from your life. To all intents and purposes they might as well be dead, don't you reckon? I do. It's weird. Like having a cemetery on the outskirts of your mind.

Well, I'll stop cutting and pasting from my own blog. If anyone is interested, they can just go to the quote page themselves.  

So...what about you? Do you like metaphors? How about description in novels? Do you like a lot? A little? A moderate amount? If there's too much description, do you read it carefully or do you skim through it?  


  1. They are truly dreadful. I don't think you'll get much farther with that book if those figures of speech keep smacking you in the face like the wings of a falconer's shackled bird anxious to fly.

  2. Kitchen Hand: LOL.

    Hopefully there will be some good parts.

  3. Off topic, but I note I now show, not as a visitor from South Yarra, but a visitor from Australia. I am almost anonymous.

  4. Oooh you're making me think about 'real' things that I don't normally think about when I'm reading. Maybe that's why my reviews are average!! I'll keep reading your blog you can teach me lol. Usually I fight for reading time and don't think of such things.

  5. Andrew: Well, if you turned your observation into a metaphor it would be totally on topic.

    I'm joking. What's the point of staying on topic? Not much.

    It's maybe sad that you've lost your South Yarra status. You're not even from Melbourne anymore. At least you're still Australian.

    Suzanne: I like your reviews...at least the ones I've read. They're nice and fairly short. I like short reviews. What about you? And what kind of real things were in this post? I just like to read and enjoy the book. If I'm noticing a lot of things...it's probably not a good sign.