Eric’s Writing Blog

The writing blog of Eric Rosenfield

Chabon’s Parade of Similes

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Reading The Yiddish Policemen’s Union by Michael Chabon. One of his great skills as a writer is the ability to turn a good simile or metaphor, and he clearly enjoys creating them, however sometimes he can get a little carried away. Consider the following passage from page 172:

He rides down in the elevator feeling as if he has stepped out from under the onrushing shadow of a plummeting piano, some kind of jazzy clangor in his ear. The knot of his gold-and-green rep necktie presses its thumb against his larynx like a scruple pressing against a guilty conscience, a reminder that he is alive. His hat is as glossy as a seal.

The sentences, three similes, all in a row. And they’re wonderful similes (though I’m not sure what his hat being glossy has to do with much), and the first has a wonderful subordinate clause that makes the comparison much more vivid (“some kind of jazzy clangor in his ear”). But I can’t help but feel a little simile fatigue when I read so many in a row, and think perhaps the second two sentences could have been simply struck out.

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Written by ericrosenfield

June 25, 2010 at 12:09 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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