The Simile Museum

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“They are beautiful and composed, like a house where no one lives, but which a staff cleans daily.”

– Amal El-Mohtar, Max Gladstone

“Maria sits on the pallet, hands in her lap like broken sparrows.”

-Anthony Doerr

“You want to write a sentence as clean as a bone.”

-James Baldwin

“The operatic tradition had always been divided over the relationship between music and drama, and this debate had reemerged in Lloyd Webber’s day. His contemporary Stephen Sondheim was a studied modernist who brought dramatic heft to musical theater in the 1970s. By contrast, Lloyd Webber had no ear for drama; his characters simply declaimed their emotions directly into the audience, as if by T-shirt cannon.”

-Andrea Long Chu

“And here, the baptismal gowns of lost children, like limp little ghosts.”

-Kirstin Valdez Quade

“Corresponding with him was like playing squash with an opponent who pockets your serve, walks off the court and returns four months later to fire it back.”

-Dwight Garner

“I drove home, weeping out of helplessness. My hands were shaking, and now I knew this would end badly. With a sigh of relief, the Samurai stopped outside the house, as if it were on my side in everything, I pressed my face against the steering wheel. The horn responded sadly, like a summons. Like a cry of mourning.”

-Olga Tokarczuk

“She looked to be in her midthirties, about fifteen or so years behind him, and rather tall, with long straight hair parted to the right and rounded eyes like the portholes on a ship.”

-Pitchaya Sudbanthad

“What mattered was the breeze. The mournful sigh of the Atlantic washing over her, only ever heard in branch rattle and casuarina shivers. And she could hear them. Each green strand swept up in 1,000 breaths of wind and all its loosest fruit dropping from the sky like an emptied nest of sea urchins. She was careful never to walk barefoot under casuarina trees. The unwary shock of their fruit under heel could feel like glass thrust into bone … like lionfish barbs … the thorns of a blowfish … stepping on the fangs of a reef — the wind! Remember the wind! She can’t afford to drown herself in similes.”

-Ada M. Patterson

“Suddenly Wally stooped, reached down, and heaved Sir Arthur out in a fireman’s lift. He flung him over his shoulder like an old bag of oats.”

-Samuel Steward