On K.’s recommendation, I’m reading the first Mortal Instruments book, which has sucked me in, in spite of my predisposition to view it as stupid. It’s very entertaining. I’m a little disturbed by all the slapping the main gal does and some of the teenage angst is something I think would have appealed to me as a teenager, but kind of doesn’t now.
But one thing the author does that drives me bonker is that things “smell of” all over the place. “This blanket smells of elderberries, rabbit stew, and loneliness.” Or “he smelled of blood, sweat, and iron ore.”
Here’s the thing. I think there’s a difference between “like” and “of.” If I write “he smelled of lilacs” it’s because I want you to imagine that he’s just come from the lilac bush. But if I write, “he smelled like dirt” I want you to imagine that he had some earthy scent that was kind of similar to the smell of dirt. You smell of something you’ve recently been in contact with. You smell like something that is a metaphor for how you smell.
And yet, I think the author uses “smelled of” to mean both things. So, I don’t know if a character literally smelled like monkey poop–meaning it’s an indication he’s just been near a monkey–or if he just kind of has a weird, unpleasant odor.