Anthony Lane’s figurative language…

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I like to share interesting pieces of figurative language I encounter in my reading. I write today about a series of similes and metaphors from Anthony Lane…

I don’t drink much, even at dinner parties. But in the summer I do love a weak gin and tonic, particularly if the gin is a good one. (My favourite is the hard-to-find but delicious Uncle Val’s Botanical.)

For this reason, I read a recent New Yorker piece by Anthony Lane and headlined, “The Intoxicating History of Gin,” with particular interest.

Lane is one of my favourite New Yorker writers and I’ve blogged before about his spectacular use of figurative language. But he outdoes himself in this amusing and instructive tale of gin.

Here are my favourite examples of similes and metaphors:

  • The suave and bearded Federico is one of the high priests who, clad in white jackets, serve bind the bar, and I watched in reverence as he aerated the egg white that would soften the blow of my White Lady. I took a sip. It was like being kicked by a cloud.
  • This was duly delivered, and the result, featuring a cameo role by Fernet Branca, has a rich brown tinge, hinting at the medicinal. Nothing is more cunning than a drink that gulls you into the false, sort-lived, but delicious belief it that might be good for you.
  • And now look. Gin is on the rise and on the loose. It has gone forth and multiplied. Forget rising sea levels; given the sudden ascendancy of gin, the polar gin caps must be melting fast.
  • I am no in possession of a board game all about gin, a pack of gin playing cards — for gin rummy, I guess — and, grimmest of all, a bag of crumbly Pink Gin Fudge, which is slightly less appetizing than a bar of soap but costs five times as much.
  • Some of these [botanicals] were fairly mainstream, like pink grapefruit and chamomile; others were more recherché, like aniseed and cassia; and one, Grains of Paradise, sounded like a gnarly and sardonic rock band from Hawaii.
  • However funky the flavorings that you insert after distillation, and whatever the fizzy mixers you pour on top, you can never add anything of genuine meaning and substance to gin. All you can do is bring out what is there. (Directors of Shakespeare, I suspect, feel much the same way.)
  • I made a few cocktails from each, and there was no denying the melancholy truth: my Hanky lacked Panky.
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