The figurative language of Carl Bernstein…

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I like to share interesting pieces of figurative language I encounter in my reading. I write today about similes from the journalist Carl Bernstein….

The American investigative journalist and author Carl Bernstein was a hero when I was growing up. When he was a young reporter for The Washington Post in 1972, he teamed up with Bob Woodward, and the two did much of the original news reporting on the Watergate scandal. These scandals led to numerous government investigations and the eventual resignation of President Richard Nixon.

The heady thoughts of being able to break such an important story led to the rise of interest in journalism in the late ’70s. (Most of those people would either be retired now, or squeezed out of the business by the collapse of advertising revenues to digital media.)

In any case, Carl Bernstein didn’t stop with the Watergate news scandal. He is the author or co-author of seven books including most famously: All the President’s Men, and The Final Days, both with Bob Woodward.

His most recent book, Chasing History: A Kid in the Newsroom, recounts his initiation into journalism in the 1960s (predating his Watergate efforts.) While I’m not convinced the book would interest anyone who didn’t work as a journalist, I found some of his figurative language to be captivating. Here are three examples:

  • The man was bent like a parenthesis, with a bald head that shined like the rock that was split open on Rudy Kauffmann’s desk…
  • “Copyyyyy!” the reporter would yell, and whichever of us was next up would run and grab the book of typed copy from the reporter’s outstretched arm like taking a baton in a relay race.
  • Herman could make words jump like trout.
  • She also had this big throaty laugh that kind of rumbled, and her voice had almost as many octaves an an opera singer’s.
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