One’s own family and situation are all one knows as a child. Therefore they are, by default, normal. I thought everyone had a papa who sometimes stayed awake all night writing philosophical papers, only to burn them all in a rage in the morning. It was only when I was old enough to notice that other fathers didn’t act like my own that I realized the truth.

Shah Ismail had fallen victim to the rarely used, great Uzbek anti-Shiite potato and sturgeon curse, which required quantities of potatoes and caviar which were not easy to amass, and a unity of purpose among the Sunni witches which was likewise difficult to achieve.

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