Metaphors Can Be Tricky! (or: You're Doing It Wrong, Part II)

Metaphors, like similes, can do great work for a writer. However, they often offer certain pitfalls. It is key to know about both members of your metaphorical construction! Otherwise, you end up saying the opposite of what you mean. Here to demonstrate this concept for us is Pierre Ruhe, critic for the Altanta Journal-Constitution.

Soprano Kate Royal’s Atlanta Debut

English soprano Kate Royal arrived in Atlanta for her U.S. recital debut Friday evening, the opening salvo in her all-but-inevitable conquest of America.



Um. That’s what I…

Almost no one on this side of the pond has heard, of yet heard of, the appealing 28-year-old, who’s already a star in Britain.

I’m going to go ahead and chalk “heard, of yet heard of” up to a typo. It is, however, hilarious. But let’s keep our eyes on the prize!

Her debut CD — “Kate Royal” on EMI — was well received among opera specialists, although it didn’t gain much attention in the wider world.

Sounds good!

Yet Royal arrives as an almost-complete package, where her only serious shortcoming happens to be the one thing that American audiences don’t seem to miss from a singer’s arsenal: a crisp, theatrical sense of words and language.

This is, I think, an interesting and very specific criticism. Can you elaborate?

Streams of lustrous sound is what Royal offers in abundance. It’s an oaky, buttery-smooth voice, a glass of the best Chardonnay in the world — a taste that will appeal to many, even as it leaves others craving more complexity and nuance from their pleasures.

No. Oh, no no no no no.

I almost hate to do this, but your metaphor, sir, is not apt.

You just said her voice is this:

Which, at $13 and approximately 8 bazillion cases produced, is the “best chardonnay in the world” in your estimation. (Or something like it. Also, why did you capitalize “chardonnay”?) While it does appeal to many, as you say, it does lack complexity and nuance. Complexity and nuance are hallmarks of the best chardonnays in the world. I would nominate something like this:

Your broader point is well-intended, and taken, sir. But why would you assert that the best Chardonnay [sic] in the world is the one with broad appeal, but laks complexity and nuance (and, one could argue, balance)?

All in all, though, a thoughtful review. Perhaps I could find work as a metaphor editor, a specialist. A meta-editor. A…meditor?

All the world’s a stage, and metaphors are a bull in a china shop.


Empiricus said...

The pictures are fun to look at, too.

Good point. Metaphor use can be tricky, but come on. This one is a morsel of steak on a mustache, still tastes good but looks unkempt.

Sator Arepo said...

All I mean to say is that if you're going to use metaphor, do it right.

Agreed, though, not a bad piece. But--come on!

For me, at least.

Chablis rules, by the way.