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Tag: Ian McEwan

More metaphors

Here are some more metaphors and phrases I’ve discovered in my reading:

Leaning forward into Bastien’s breath Alan Hollinghurst: The Sparsholt Affair, p.121
The soft jolt of happiness Alan Hollinghurst: The Sparsholt Affair, p.179
The moment … to act moved stiflingly closer Alan Hollinghurst: The Sparsholt Affair, p.222
Later in the night, spooned into Suzy’s back Richard Flanagan: First Person, p.43
His gaze skidding around the room Richard Flanagan: First Person, p.128
Describing musical improvisation: to cast off from the notated shores Virginia Lloyd: Girls at the Piano, p.160
That springtime fragment of a boy’s youth Michael Ondaatje: Warlight p.44
Expressionless as royalty Michael Ondaatje: Warlight p.86
The howl of a train Michael Ondaatje: Warlight p.230
My maths was rusting up Ian McEwan: Enduring Love p.76
Astonishment loosens the hinge of her jaw Ian McEwan: Enduring Love p.83
You are in love, at a point where pride and apprehension scuffle within you Julian Barnes: A History of the World in 10 ½ Chapters p.238
History just burps, and we taste again that raw-onion sandwich it swallowed centuries ago Julian Barnes: A History of the World in 10 ½ Chapters p.241
He was dying, just a whisper of himself. Germaine Greer on the death of Harry Hooton, cited in Elizabeth Kleinhenz: Germaine, p.75
Brooding like a storm Toni Jordan: The Fragments, p.20
An underlying spine of melody Toni Jordan: The Fragments, p.203

It’s been a while since I’ve added some favourite ‘metaphors’ (or great descriptions) to this section. Lately I’ve been very busy with a writing class but have read some great books, so here are some more metaphors/ descriptions that I’d like to share:

Pale amniotic light Simon Mawer: The Glass Room, p. 400
His gaze slid away Ian McEwan: The Children Act, p.160
The whole landscape is holding its breath Helen Garner: True Stories, p.95
The house hunches itself in the deepening dark Helen Garner: True Stories, p.97
A shadow of betrayal Jane Harper: The Lost Man, p. 178
Brutal heat Jane Harper: The Lost Man, p.323
Dead Hector: I spread the linen sheet gently over his poor ruined face and tiptoed away, leaving him alone under the indifferent stars. Pat Barker: The Silence of the Girls, p.227
After Achilles’ death: the great roar of absence Pat Barker: The Silence of the Girls, p.308
The cicadas stitch their song into the day Carrie Tiffany: Exploded View, p.167
I felt a rope of fear uncoil in my stomach Esi Edugyan: Washington Black, p.70
His face vacant as a freshly washed plate Esi Edugyan: Washington Black, p.387
He changed his clothes and grunted off to his shed Jen Hutchison: Motherling, p. 28
An unmoving clotted silence Stanislaw Lem: Solaris, p.188
As quiet as cancer Adam Roberts: The Snow, p. 1
A big 600 page thudder of a book Adam Roberts: The Snow, p. 202
Sheep dog my thoughts back into their pen Adam Roberts: The Snow, p. 227
Amplified silence Adam Roberts: The Snow, p. 234


Ian McEwan: Nutshell

The central idea for this short novel is from Hamlet: ‘Oh God, I could be bounded in a nutshell and count myself a king of infinite space – were it not that I have bad dreams.’ The story is narrated (soliloquized) by a foetus Hamlet, whose mother is Trudy (as in Gertrude) and her lover is Claude (as in Claudius). The foetus  eavesdrops on the plot of the lovers to do away with the father (a poet), so that the two can be together without his intrusion.  It’s a clever idea. I’m sure that McEwan did his usual painstaking research so that the cramped environment from which the foetus narrates the story is accurate. Although, how a foetus could have any brain cells left after the huge amount of alcohol (including spirits) consumed by his mother, I don’t know. The whole thing is referenced, perhaps too nicely, to the play – the foetus makes the decision of whether ‘to be or not to be’, and ultimately decides it is best ‘to be’ and chooses to be born 2 weeks early thus intentionally , it seems, stuffing up the escape plans of the guilty murderers. It’s clever – but I found the whole thing a bit too much of a conceit. The father is a poet – giving McEwan opportunities to say things – through the foetus – about particular poets. The foetus is extraordinarily well informed about world events from hearing the podcasts that Trudy listens to – thus giving McEwan opportunity to make comment. Can you have Hamlet without a ghost? In this case, the ghost really does seem clumsy as the rest of the story is cast in 21st Century reality (the father succumbs to poisoning on the side of a freeway). The murderers are planning their escape when there are heavy footsteps on the stairs. How does the foetus know that his father’s face is bloodless and his lips greenish black? The ghost almost throttles Claude, embraces Trudy then returns up the stairs ‘and begins to fade’. The police are onto the murderers who overlooked DNA testing of a hat, significant to the crime. Baby Hamlet’s decision to be born disrupts the escape. He anticipates that he and his mother will go to prison and he looks forward to a world of sorrow, justice, then meaning. The rest is chaos – and with that, the book ends.

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