Taffy Brodesser-Akner and her figurative language…

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 metaphors from American writer Taffy Brodesser-Akner….

I had never heard of the writer Taffy Brodesser-Akner, then I started seeing her name everywhere. On blogs. In podcasts. In newspapers. On radio interviews. Taffy Brodesser-Akner was suddenly the “it” writer.

The reason? Her first novel, Fleishman is in Trouble, was published by Penguin/Random House in June 2019 to rave reviews from Entertainment Weekly, National Public Radio, the New York Times and People Magazine. 

While I mostly enjoyed the book, I found she lost control of her plot early in the story. Her narrator puzzlingly appeared and disappeared multiple times, leaving me disoriented and confused. Nevertheless, Brodesser-Akner has a terrific way with words (she’s a staff writer for New York Times Magazine) and a fine ear for figurative language.

Here are my favourite examples:

  • Rachel wasn’t there. She was not in his bed. She was not in the bathroom, applying liquid eyeliner to the area where her eyelid met her eyelashes with the precision of an arthroscopy robot.
  • Hannah was his, too, yes, except that she had Rachel’s straight blond hair and narrow blue eyes and sharp nose — her whole face an accusation, just like her mother’s.
  • All Toby knew was that Hannah could barely look at him without her lake-water eyes narrowing even further into lasers and her nose becoming somehow pointier than it was and her lips turning white with purse.
  • Her eyes were searching his face the way soap opera actors looked at each other in the seconds before commercial breaks.
  • [Clay] had a slightly lazy eye, which would stray only when he’d been staring at you for a long time, as if the eye were done with the conversation and was hinting at the rest of him that it was time to go.
  • Toby love her so much his heart was permanently on its knees.
  • Today and Rachel sat in the audience behind a man who was asleep across a bench in the front row and spooning with his cane.
  • He once heard Joanie describe Lintz’s eyes to Clay as being like melted coffee beans.
  • She had a face so narrow it was hard to believe it could accommodate both eyes. Her nose protruded so much that she had the countenance of a toucan.
  • She turned to Seth with a look on her face like she’d discovered gravity.
  • Seth draped his arm around Vanessa like she was a bannister.
  • It [the temperature] must have been a thousand degrees, and his air-conditioning had the equivalent cooling power of a cat yawning.
  • He’d grown up in Los Angeles, where everyone bragged about the sun like they invented it and all he could ever think about was how the lack of tall buildings meant the sun was forever rising and setting in his eyes.