The figurative language of Curtis Sittenfeld…

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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 metaphors by Curtis Sittenfeld…

A graduate of Stanford University and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, Curtis Sittenfeld is the bestselling author of seven novels. Several years ago, I had particularly enjoyed her 2008 novel, An American Wife which tells the story of Alice Blackwell. This fictional character shares many similarities with former First Lady Laura Bush, including a tragic 1963 car accident when she was 17 years old. (Bush had run a stop sign and struck another car, killing its driver, who happened to be a close friend and classmate.)

But Sittenfeld’s latest book, Romantic Comedy, is not a roman à clef. The story of a romance between a comedian and a pop star, the book takes the popular show Saturday Night Live as its model and presents a charming story with impressive dialogue. She also has a deft hand with figurative language. Here are my favourite examples:

  • Prior to joining the show, I’d kept typical sleeping and walking hours, but TNO truly had rewired my biology, as if I were a third-shift factory worker except vastly better paid, or an ER doctor except not saving anyone’s life.
  • Hearing the famous line never failed to release something in me, some ecstasy that was like lifting the tab on a soda can.
  • I often thought that TNO was like a sped-up version of life itself, and that whether something proceeded magnificently or disastrously, time always kept rushing by and the next moment was happening.
  • It was like swimming in the ocean and feeling something shift under you and the next thing you know, a gigantic magical sea creature that you never knew existed is rising out of the water with you on its back.

Incidentally, Sittenfeld did not adopt a man’s name. Curtis is her given name, and she has been known by it throughout her life.

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