I feel like the ruler of a small, rumpled country…

Reading time: Less than 1 minute

I like to share interesting pieces of figurative language I encounter in my reading. I write today about a series of similes from Abigail Thomas…

When I heard about the memoir What Comes Next and How to Like It by Abigail Thomas, I knew I had to read it. Her father, Lewis Thomas, was a physician and essayist and author of the magical book, The Lives of a Cell. (I highly recommend it to any “artsies” like me, who think they are not the least bit interested in science.) My husband, a sciences guy, introduced me to that book shortly after we met and it still holds a place of honour on our bookshelves.

I didn’t fall in love with What Comes Next in the same way. Still, I was impressed by the ear Abigail Thomas has for figurative language. Here are three examples I especially admired:

  • The mattress I picked out is as high as a wedding cake. When I’m up there I am thirty-eight inches off the floor. I feel like the ruler of a small, rumpled country.
  • Catherine is making a garden now. A friend asked her what the difference is between skunk cabbage and hostas. “Hostas look like skunk cabbage that went to private school.”
  • I think about time differently since it got to be this old. I think of each moment as a big La-Z-Boy, or perhaps a hammock, and the only direction is a little back and forth, or side to side.

The comment about hostas looking like skunk cabbages that went to private school is still funny enough to make me laugh.


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