Here at Smart Bitches, I am not one to shrink away from a metaphor. In the past few years, both Candy and I have employed a metaphor, and by “employed” I do mean “beaten into the ground with overuse and obviousness.” Our use of metaphor is completely, and utterly lame compared to some of the opening lines of this novella.
Here, have the plot summary provided by the publisher in the opening pages:
Dusty Roads is a drifter whose down-to-earth
cowboy work ethic has landed him a job in a
Carolina power plant. Honey Barnes is the plant’s
lone but feisty female boss fighting to succeed
despite resistance in a male-dominated workplace.
Both are tormented by tragedies from their
past…tragedies they were helpless to stop. When
a workplace situation evolves into what both
recognize as a potential catastrophe, they are
thrown together by the chance to avert disaster
and find redemption. In the process, their
irresistible attraction for one another turns into the
passionate love that has long eluded them.
That’s right, Dusty Roads and Honey Barnes.
I receive a good many submissions to read and review, from novellas to epic novels that make my inbox attachment folder cry. I usually try to read the first few pages to see if the material grabs my attention. This experience I had to share with you. Why?
The opening paragraph stopped me cold. Mostly because it is two sentences long, but oh, what sentences they are. Here is where I resolve never to use another metaphor or simile again, because clearly I don’t know what the hell I am doing.
Honey would sometimes think of Dusty, and it was like she twisted a dial and opened a steel door to a safe in her heart where she kept her grandest
jewels—bittersweet memories, surrounded by a poignant moat. Some were vivid as fallen red bougainvillea petals, while others drifted by aimlessly, as vague and faded as old photographs in a dark flooded cellar.
I feel like I’m watching one of those informercials about educational programs guaranteed to improve your memory. Safe! Jewels! Poignant moat! Petals! Photographs! Flooded cellar! French drains! Homeowner’s Insurance! Flood Policy!
Wait, I went too far, though perhaps the safe of memories in Honey’s mind could use some additional riders in the event of a flooded poignant moat.
Regardless of the flood plain, however, that many metaphors is not advisable in any circumstance. Really. It’s just too much.
The metaphor-palooza comes to an end with other memories in Honey’s opening recollections:
The safe contained her sixteenth birthday party at the secluded cove she had discovered at Jordan Lake—the one Taylor laughingly called the Honey
Hole. She swam in her sheer undies, staring curiously from the corners of her green eyes while the guys went skinny dipping. Her large breasts floated on the water, the wrinkled, brown, quarter-sized areolas visible through the sheer lace bra.
Yes, that does indeed say “Honey Hole.”
No, wait, I’m wrong: there are more metaphors and similes that crash into one another like cars on the needles of a pine tree swaying in the gale force winds of my attempts to oxygenate my reeling brain, which was reeling like a pine tree swaying in the gale force winds. (How am I doing? Yeah, really, I can’t keep up and need to just quit, right?).
Dusty would strut out to the front of her mind like he owned the place, smiling, dismissing all the other memories like slamming the door on an annoying salesman. That was how she always saw him. That genuine smile that came from his heart, his gentle blue eyes belying his big, gruff exterior. Dusty’s smile could stop a charging pit bull in its tracks. And if that didn’t work, his hands were big and strong enough to snap its neck like a chicken’s.
Aaaaand that’s where I stopped. Dogs with broken necks. Yeah. I’m done. I wish I had the fortitude to keep going, but I am clearly a weak and shameful individual that I cannot persevere in the face of moats, honey holes, brown floating nipples and unfortunate dogs.
I tried, though – literally AND metaphorically.