Sensuous evocation of the climate and geometry of desire—the amorous dreams people evoke all unknowing in one another—set in Morocco, by the Mexican critic and writer. Mogador could well be one of the Invisible Cities of Italo Calvino's invention—a place in which architecture is metaphysics in solid form but where everything is nonetheless as mutable as salt sediment deposited on the city walls only to be lifted off by the wind in sheets, caught by children, and then disintegrating again into the air. In this world where light, wind, and mist take on the carnality of bodies while physical sexuality often dissolves into metaphor, a young woman named Fatma becomes the center of attention: she is caught in a languorous yet desperate dream of forbidden desire; the people of Mogador interpret her revery and strange gaze to suit their own fantasies. Fatma's secret has its origin in the public bathhouse—the Hammam—which is open to women and men during separate hours of the day: ``But while the arrogance of the afternoon and the hysteria of the morning are two rigid extremes that keep the walls of the Hammam taut, its many rooms and fountains let loose, morning and afternoon, the labyrinths that favor the existence of intermediate souls and sexes.'' What happens in the Hammam is without conventional moral consequence, and so Fatma's single morning of passion with a woman named Kadiya is as lost and ahistorical as endlessly overwhelming. Memorable novella about being both untouched and seized—all described in prose that mixes dreamy arabesque with crystalline precision.
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