Pedigreed, boastful, overschooled eccentrics…

Word count: 254 words

Reading time: About 1 minute

I like to share interesting pieces of figurative language I encounter in my reading. Today’s comes from Walter Kirn in the New Yorker.

I cannot remember where I first read about “Clark Rockefeller”. Perhaps it was in Vanity Fair. That seems the right place to have learned about a villain (real name: Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter) who moved in charmed social circles and assumed a multitude of aliases, abducted his own daughter and was charged with and convicted of the murder of a California man.

A more recent account of  the scoundrel’s life, however, offered a far more stylish and intelligent description. Penned by American novelist Walter Kirn (pictured above) and published in the June 10 and 17/13 issue of the New Yorker, the article appeared under the headline Pedigree. Subhead: “My Rockefeller friend was neither a Rockefeller nor a friend. Why was I taken in?”

Why, indeed? I read the article in more or less one “gulp” to try to find out. I was hooked, not just by the story but also by the writing. Here’s a sample:

I’d met a few people like him [“Rockefeller”] during college — pedigreed, boastful, overschooled eccentrics who spoke like cousins of Katharine Hepburn and always seemed to have prematurely thinning hair and delicate, intestinal-pink skin.

The simile “who spoke like cousins of Katharine Hepburn” (isn’t that precise?) and the metaphor comparing skin to the colour of intestines are only two of the bits of figurative language that charmed me. It’s worth reading the whole article. Quick, find a copy of the New Yorker before it disappears from the newsstands. (The article is “locked” so I’m afraid I can’t provide you with a complete link.)

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