The Simile Museum

Category: Fiction

“She was all charm, beauty, perfect grace, with a forehead like the new moon, eyes like those of a deer or a wild heifer, eyebrows like the crescent in the month of Sha’ban, cheeks like red anemones, mouth like the seal of Solomon, lips like red carnelian, teeth like a row of pearls set in coral, neck like a cake for a king, bosom like a fountain, breasts like a pair of big pomegranates resembling a rabbit with uplifted ears, and a belly with a navel like a cup that holds a pound of benzoin ointment.”

-The Arabian Nights

“The idleness of a passenger, my isolation amongst all these men with whom I had no point of contact, the oily and languid sea, the uniform somberness of the coast, seemed to keep me away from the truth of things, within the toil of a mournful and senseless delusion. The voice of the surf heard now and then was a positive pleasure, like the speech of a brother.”

-Joseph Conrad

“When I turn around all I see is the Mississippi Bridge: its great latticework of girders is gridded against the southern horizon like a waffle iron, filled with blue sky as with batter.”

-Bennett Sims

“Human speech is like a cracked cauldron on which we beat out tunes that make bears dance, when we want to move the stars to pity.”

-Gustave Flaubert


“The train, which was black and sleek and elegant, and was called the Fireball, had pulled more than halfway across the bridge when the engine nosed over towards the lake and then the rest of the train slid after it into the water like a weasel sliding off a rock.”

-Marilynne Robinson

“The city, however, does not tell its past, but contains it like the lines of a hand, written in the corners of the streets, the gratings of windows, the banisters of the steps, the antennae of the lightning rods, the poles of the flag, every segment marked in turn with scratches, indentations, scrolls.”

– Italo Calvino

“She sat there naked, propped up on her hands, her mouth open a little, her face like scraped bone.”

-Raymond Chandler

“My great grandmother. I would’ve liked to have known her, a wild horse of a woman, so wild she wouldn’t marry. Until my great-grandfather threw a sack over her head and carried her off. Just like that, as if she were a fancy chandelier. That’s the way he did it.”

-Sandra Cisneros

“Already the moon hung above the yard like a cheap earring.”

-Isaac Babel

“On the doorstep, with the street before her, she felt a mad throb of liberation, intoxicating as the prisoner’s first draught of free air; but the clearness of the brain continued, and she noted the mute aspect of Fifth Avenue, guessed at the lateness of the hour, and even observes a man’s figure–was there something half-familiar in its outline?–which, as she entered the hansom, turned from the opposite corner and vanished into the obscurity of the side street.”

-Edith Wharton