Tag Archives: punctuation


I came across two punctuation metaphors last week.

Police life: a series of punctuation points. Mostly full-stops at the end of partial outcomes, doubtful outcomes and unfinished stories.


Wendy knocked. Clara appeared, hectic and warm. ‘Come in out of the cold!’ She speaks in exclamation marks, Hirsch thought, following both women into a small living room. Clara gestured. ‘Sit, sit.’

Both quotations are taken from Garry Disher’s book Consolation, the third of his Tiverton books. The main character of the Tiverton books is policeman Paul Hirschhausen, who has been transferred from Adelaide to a one-man police station in Tiverton in rural South Australia. He’s a likeable character but what I particularly enjoyed in the three books was the way in which the landscape, and the local climate, are described.

ruin of a building in a dry landscape with dry mountain rage in the background

Old Burra Road. Image © Royston Rascals, reproduced under a CC BY-NC 2.0 licence.

a little life


Boy with hand to face (1910) by Egon Schiele. Watercolour held in a private collection. Public domain.

I’ve finished reading Hanya Yanagihara’s novel A Little Life. Oh my, what a book. Such compelling reading. I don’t know what else to say, except: Just read it.

I found two punctuation metaphors this time.

Willem always thought they clearly looked like brothers — they had their parents’ light, bright hair, and their father’s gray eyes, and both of them had a groove, like an elongated parentheses, bracketing the left side of their mouths that made them appear easily amused and ready to smile — but no one else seemed to notice this.


He was so discombobulated that he forgot that Willem was already onstage when he called, but when Willem called him back at intermission, he was still in the same place on the bed, in the same comma-like shape, the phone still cupped beneath his palm.


Rijksmuseum AK-RBK-16106-C

Japanese stone figure of a swallow with opened beak (c. 1925–48) by an anonymous artist. Held in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Public domain.

I went to a literary dinner with Danish author Sissel-Jo Gazan at Denmark House here in Melbourne a while back, and I’ve been reading a couple of her novels since — The Dinosaur Feather and The Arc of the Swallow. These two novels have some characters in common and they both mix crime with science and academia. I’m not keen on the author’s writing style but the storylines have kept me reading.

The ‘swallow’ of the second novel is a little wooden sculpture Marie, one of the main characters, receives as a gift because, when they first met, she had reminded the giver of a baby swallow he had rescued as a child. But he had also quickly learnt that swallows are tough birds, trekking the distance from Africa to Europe and back again every year.

I had only just started reading the book when I stumbled upon another punctuation metaphor

Søren scooped Lily up, placed her on the sofa next to Anna and left to hang up his jacket in the hallway. In the doorway he turned and said, ‘By the way, we don’t need to organise someone to look after Lily until she’s better. You can go to the faculty whenever you like. I’ll take care of her.’ Anna looked like a question mark, but when Søren added, ‘I’ve just quit my job,’ her expression turned into an exclamation point.