Every hair terrified into place…

Reading time: About 1 minute

I like to share interesting pieces of figurative language I encounter in my reading. I write today about a series of metaphors from Elizabeth Renzetti.

I’m a big fan of the journalist Elizabeth Renzetti who writes for the Globe and Mail newspaper. She’s funny, opinionated and articulate — all qualities I seek in a columnist.

I’ve admired her output enough to have written before about it, so I was thrilled to learn that she’d recently produced a novel, Based on a True Story. (Terrible title, although the fault for that belongs to the publishing house.)

The novel describes an aging, alcoholic British soap opera star and a young, insecure American journalist who becomes her ghost writer. Much hilariousness ensues. The story isn’t deep (I read it while on holiday) but it’s engagingly told and stuffed with metaphors. Here are a few of my favourites:

Augusta had never understood this male drive for territoriality, the way they spread their arms and legs as if they were ferns battling for every inch of sunlight.

The Church of England knew how to build a gateway to the afterlife: moss glowed green on the headstones, the branches of chestnut trees were laced like penitent hands above.

It had thrown her into the past to see his comic-book expression eyes out on springs, tongue practically unrolling like carpet at her feet.

He looked like a bobble-headed doll sitting on a car dashboard.

Augusta examined her neck in the gauzy reflection of her favourite mirror, which hung in the hallway of her flat. She had chosen the mirror because it was ancient and scratched and kind; Vaseline on the lens of her life.

My favourite Elizabeth Renzetti metaphor, however, is this one:

The women from magazines displayed military precision in their grooming, every hair terrified into place, shoes and nails gleaming.

I like the way she personifies hair. Now that’s a metaphor that many people will quickly grasp.

Scroll to Top