July 2, 2010

Metaphors

I've been drawn to the good, the bad and the ugly of metaphors lately. I admit, I am jealous of those that can write amazing metaphors. In a writing excercise at school, I sat, staring into space for fifteen minutes, unable to come up with a single metaphor from scratch. So, if the odd decent one comes through my pen I am happy.

I read The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy. There were often three, four, sometimes five lengthy metaphors on one page. I thought, give me a break, does everything have to sound, look, smell, feel, or taste like something else? Can't some things just be? I did finish the book.

There are metaphors that stand out, not because they are good, but because they sound like the writer was trying to be clever. A good metaphor is seamless. I read Danielle Egan's short story "Strange Attractors". I shook my head and stopped reading at this one. 'You clear your throat and I picture fossils of tiny seahorses dislodged and swallowed.'

Good metaphors stay with you. Anu Jindal's short "Saul and Millie are Sisters" has this gem. 'She could hear voices from the kitchen, though they were muffled by the walls: the bugle call of her mother, the low bassoon of her father, and her grandmother's french horn.'

I worry I will become a writer that has difficulty reading fiction as I am too busy picking away at the construction to enjoy the story.

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