Saturday, April 18, 2009

Raymond Chandler and the Surprising Metaphor

Detectives Beyond Borders' Peter Rozovsky is reading Raymond Chandler's Farewell, My Lovely and praising the writer's use of figurative language. He asks, "Is surprise the key to vivid description and successful metaphor?"

I don't believe it is. As often as not, extended metaphor and quirky description can distract readers from the image the writer means to present. I think it's more important to deliver a clear picture than one that is surprising or unnecessarily embroidered. Figurative as metaphors are, it's easy to get carried away using them. They should be controlled to lead readers to the intended mental image. One shouldn't use figurative language simply for style or surprise. Some of Chandler's metaphors and similes are great, but their overall impact is diluted by how often he used them.

No comments: