What is a metaphor? It’s a “this” for a “that.” My love is a “this.” A rose is a “that.” My love is a rose.

So, there are two parts to a metaphor. The “this” part is called the tenor. The “that” part is called the vehicle. Or is it the other way round?

Metaphors are helpful, of course, in re-imagining something, or describing it in a shorthand way. The clouds are cotton floating in the blue. They work best when multiple aspects of the tenor and the vehicle are shared. The more aspects shared, the more evocative the metaphor.

My love is a rose. Sure, that works because a rose is lovely, beautiful, delicate, one of kind, etc. But roses have thorns? That works, too, since love certainly can be prickly and sticky and painful. So this metaphor is evocative and durable. Heck, it’s been around forever.

What’s the point I’m driving at?

Well, I find that my mind is lost in metaphor more than might be healthy. I see just about everything as something else, or representing something else. It’s as if there is another Thing behind the surface reality, and that’s the real-real for me.  The vehicle is often stronger than the tenor.

Of course, that brings me to my book, A Family Garden. To be honest, just about all things these days bring me back to the book. And that’s certainly a metaphor for something, right?

The story of A Family Garden is a metaphor (The Garden of Eden? Perhaps. Or simply something very important that was lost?) The characters are themselves metaphors, and the novel’s theme is both tenor and vehicle of the metaphor at once. Too tricky for you?

Okay, then let’s just relax and enjoy the tenor and forget the vehicle, forget the subterranean life for awhile.

When I summarize the surface plot quickly, here’s what I get: An unlikely trio are chased up California’s coast by drug dealers and fanatics to British Columbia where an impending lover’s reunion will be their last chance to recover what they’ve lost and their first chance to find the life they desperately seek.

Boy, you can feel the metaphors bristling to get free in that precis, can’t you?

Be careful because when you enter the garden, they will envelop you. Or at least that’s what I’m imaging in my own metaphorical way.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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