High art

While catching up on a stack of long-neglected New Yorkers (I truly am my father’s son in that regard), I finally encountered this splendid simile:

“… the Hearst Tower, not long after sunrise on a Saturday morning, the offices had been as empty and lifeless as an inexpertly kept aquarium.”

While not quite as pert as the example of metaphor my sister would use with her science fiction students at Rutgers (“My car is a piece of shit.”), I was nevertheless entranced by its appearance in a protracted — but not too long at all — profile of Manhattan skyscraper window washers. On one hand, a slacker kills his fish by neglecting their artificial habitat. On the other, middle-aged men (almost always men) risk their lives to shine up the windows of some of the world’s most impressive buildings.

The whole article is worth a look, but that “aquarium” simile stuck with me, both because of its novelty and its being a deft, subtle rendering of irony: a couple things I’m trying to shoot for in my writing.

Seen any great similes or metaphors lately? Lay ’em on me in the comments section below, if you’re so inclined.


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