The figurative language of Caitlin Moran…

Reading time: Just over 1 minute

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 Caitlin Moran…

The Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism calls Caitlin Moran (pictured above) the most influential British journalist on Twitter. Although this recognition sounds a tad oxymoronic to me (what level of journalism does Twitter actually require?) there is no question that Moran is a fine writer. She writes three columns a week for the British daily The Times and she is the author of six books.

I just finished reading How to Build a Girl and I was impressed not just by her storytelling ability, which is considerable, but also by her use of figurative language. Warning: this coming-of-age-tale features lots of swearing and frank talk and won’t be to everyone’s taste.

  • Her sighs were so hard, and despairing, that they made the tinsel on the Christmas tree shimmer.
  • All my siblings were sliding out of the doors, like butter across a hot pan.
  • The city died on their [the older generation’s] watch, and there is a communal sense of misplaced culpability about it. This is what dying industrial cities smell of: guilt and fear. The older people silently apologizing to their children.
  • Tink and Tonk [two Siamese cats] come into the room and coil around my chair legs, like brown smoke.
  • Even with my freewheeling open-mindedness, I couldn’t fancy Dennis — a man whose earls looked like two long pieces of bacon.
  • What you are, as a teenager, is a small, silver, empty rocket. And you use loud music as fuel, and then the information in books as maps and coordinates, to tell you where you’re going.”
  • Planes cruise at 600 miles per hour…Planes have to become furious before they can fly. They kick the ground away, and punch into the clouds, screaming.
  • I think I cry for at least half an hour — the kind of crying that is like rain where it starts without warning, and violently, but eases off into sudden rainbows, and blackbirds calling out in gratitude as they sweep across wet lawns.
  • The arguments always end with Dad leaving the house to go to the Red Lion, where Johnny Jones gets him pissed— leaving Mum to shuffle and reshuffle the bills on the dresser, as if each contact with her hand might rub away at the total.
  • The buildings on the South Bank are pale grey, like dirty bridesmaids; women are in bright dresses, promenading to their next destination.
  • The room is a pigsty—empty cans and vodka bottles, ashtrays humped, Pompeii-like, with ash and dead stubs, and a broken wine bottle, the wine splashed over the stacked plates like blood.
  • Cynicism scours through a culture like bleach, wiping out millions of small, seedling ideas.