The figurative language of Jill Lepore

Reading time: Less than 1 minute

I like to share interesting pieces of figurative language I encounter in my reading. I write today about some figurative language from Jill Lepore…

I am so profoundly tired of the American election that when I rediscovered a note I’d written to myself about it back in August, I sighed. Isn’t it over, yet?

But it’s not. And strangely enough, given recent turns of events, the July reporting from the Democratic and Republican convention makes those days — just over a month ago — seem like almost halcyon times. The candidates loathed each other then, of course, but perhaps because it was still the summer, their performances seemed more remote, less affecting.

Back in the August 8 and 15/16 issue of the New Yorker, Jill Lepore, pictured above, reflected on the two conventions. (The note I’d written myself about it lay forgotten on my desk until this week.) Here is part of what she said:

They perched on bar stools, their bodies long and lean, like eels, the women in sleeveless dresses the color of flowers or fruit (marigold, tangerine), the men in fitted suits the color of embers (charcoal, ash). Makeshift television studios lined the floor and the balcony of the convention hall: CNN, Fox, CBS, Univision, PBS. MSNBC built a pop-up studio on East Fourth Street, a square stage raised above the street, like an outdoor boxing ring. “Who won today? Who will win tomorrow?” the networks asked. The guests slumped against the ropes and sagged in their seats, or straightened their backs and slammed their fists. The hosts narrowed their eyes, the osprey to the fish: “Is America over?”

I’ve written before about  the figurative language of Jill Lepore, and I repeat my claim: This woman is a superb writer. I like the way she compares the women to eels and matches the colour of their dresses with fruit and flowers and likens the men’s suits to the colour of embers. And I particularly admire her elegant metaphor: The hosts narrowed their eyes, the osprey to the fish: “Is America over?”

As for that question, I decline to try to answer it right now…

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