Reading Gonçalo M. Tavares, the Portuguese novelist who writes in detached, hyper-objective prose, can be like eating from a brilliantly curated cheese sampler. Each carefully cut wedge of cheese on the plate is given ample space from the others so that it can be savored distinctly, and ultimately ranked according to preference. In the more sophisticated restaurants, the chef will pair each cheese with a precise analog — a flavor of honey, a warm fig, a sprig of rosemary, a sliver of almond. Your enjoyment in consuming the cheese sample springs from this scientific arrangement, the grace and beauty of the experience assured because the chef’s palate is at once so elemental and so refined.
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