I recently read and adored It Chooses You by empathy superhero Miranda July, and it contained this passage:
The address was a giant old apartment building on Hollywood Boulevard, the kind of place where starlets lived in the '30s, but now it was the cheapest sort of flophouse. It's not that my world smells so good--my house, the houses of my friends, Target, my car, the post office--it's just that I know those smells. I tried to pretend this too was a familiar smell, the overly sweet note combined with something burning on a hotplate thirty years ago. I also tried to appreciate small blessings, like that when we pressed 3 on the elevator, it went up and opened on a floor with a corresponding number 3.
Now I'm reading Carol Anshaw's Carry the One and have already encountered some great smell moments, particularly when it comes to Alice, and her consuming desire for Maude:
...Standing in the shadows between streetlights was a tall blonde who, as she looked up, revealed herself to be Maude.
Alice got stuck for a moment, then went to buzz her in. This was a completely surprising event. Since the accident Alice had only seen her once, at the baptism of Carmen and Matt's baby, Gabriel. They gave each other a wide berth. Now here she was in some agitated state, in jeans and a sweatshirt turned inside out. Ten feet tall. Hair a tangle, expression feverish, smelling like lilac and biscuits. If Alice believed in a God she would have asked him: Please give me this.