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"In any case — although I did not know it then — to fall asleep on Ifat's bed was milk enough, to sleep in crumbling rest beside her body. Sometimes like water she runs through the sentences of sleep, a medium something other than itself, refracting, innocent of all the algae it can bear and capable of much transmogrification. Her water laps around me almost in reproach: '"You were distracted, when I requested your attention. You were not looking. I was milk."'

The elegiac immediacy of this passage, the elaborateness of its metaphor, the language teetering on the edge of overreach — these are hallmarks of Meatless Days. Here, she describes her stubborn grandmother dragging home to her appalled family a live goat to be butchered for the festival of Eid: "Like a question mark interested only in its own conclusions, her body crawled through the gates ... moving in her eerie crab formations, [she] ignored the hangman's rope she firmly held as behind her in the gloaming minced, hugely affable, a goat."

Comedy and tragedy, tenderness and horror, sit close to one another in this remarkable book, doing justice to the piecemeal, intimate ways memory actually lives in the mind.

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