Welcome to AW and the lit fic thread, Scarywicket, nice to have you here!extremely belated response—hi everyone, love the thread, having thoughts upon thoughts because of this thread—but i think to a certain degree there is room in lit fic to do all of these things! in rooney's conversation with friends, for instance, she uses lots of bodily descriptions to convey feelings. the protagonist bites the inside of her cheek, digs her nails into her palms until she bleeds, etc. on the one hand i think it does lend a certain YA-ish tone to the novel, but on the other hand, if you have a protagonist who feels dissociated from her surroundings, anchored or trapped in her body, etc, it can work. (it certainly does for rooney!) it's all very postmodern—and i think i read an essay once that pointed to how, in lots of literary fiction now, feelings are located in the stomach, or the chest, or the throat.
one way that i sometimes try to convey what a protagonist is feeling, especially if again that protagonist is very repressed, or at least very repressed about a very particular thing, is to determinedly not mention it, not-mention-it so much that it becomes obvious. the protagonist is chopping vegetables as her husband talks. leeks, shallots, peas. she is keeping her hands busy. her movements are quick and strong, but sloppier than usual, more like a butcher than a chef. she is smiling, but it's hard. she can't look at her husband, because if she does—if she does—she won't. she slides the carrots into the pan. she pulls the garlic close to her, and picks up her knife again.
^ we don't necessarily know that she's mad, but there's certainly something boiling beneath the surface, maybe even a hint of threat. not only is she mad, she's trying not to be, or in denial that she is. and then the dialogue reveals further. you know?