The Simile Museum

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“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

“She, Laura, likes to imagine (it’s one of her most closely held secrets) that she has a touch of brilliance herself, just a hint of it, though she knows most people probably walk around with similar hopeful suspicions curled up like tiny fists inside them, never divulged.”

-Michael Cunningham

“She helped her friend Timo gut his house, ripping pipes and wires out of the walls, like popping the bones out of a corpse. They’d pried out windows like scooping eyeballs, leaving the house staring blindly across the street at equally eyeless homes, and she’d written up the experience — a family home of three generations made valueless because the suburb’s water had gone dry and Phoenix wouldn’t allow a hookup.”

-Paolo Bacigalupi 

“He wears wire-rimmed glasses, and is shy and flushes easily, pink as a peony.”

-Jill Lepore

“stay sucking on my tongue which is a problem this very moment cuz of a canker sore on the roof of my mouth. the foam earplugs are a similar color to my earwax just less toasty. half-dreaming about the plane doing circles and halfnightmaring three separate planes nosediving. this my mandatory time to thinkaboutdyin. underneath us the scenery is flat and carved into squares like lemon bars.”

-marcus scott williams

“And so, in those places left vacant by the erroneous reassembly of our selves, the remnants of our amnesias lived like a brood of wasps.”

-Ingrid Rojas Contreras

“The first café I came across looked glassed in at first, plasticked in at closer inspection. It would be open-air in summer, but this evening, through the not fully transparent plastic, with the fluorescent light and the cigarette smoke, the patrons looked embalmed, as if submerged in amber. And among the preserved sat Emma.”

-Rabih Alameddine

“I looked down the length of the Vine. It was a long, narrow place, like a train car that wasn’t going anywhere.”

-Denis Johnson

“When I had been there a little longer, and had seen this phase of crystal clearness followed by long stretches of sunless cold; when the storms of February had pitched their white tents about the devoted village and the wild cavalry of March winds had charged down to their support; I began to understand why Starkfield emerged from its six months’ siege like a starved garrison capitulating without quarter.”

-Edith Wharton