Shelf Awareness for Friday, October 2, 2015

Random House Worlds: Damsel by Evelyn Skye

St. Martin's Press: The Girls of Summer by Katie Bishop

Soho Crime: The Rope Artist by Fuminori Nakamura, transl. by Sam Bett

Flatiron Books: Once Upon a Prime: The Wondrous Connections Between Mathematics and Literature by Sarah Hart

Grand Central Publishing: Goodbye Earl: A Revenge Novel by Leesa Cross-Smith

Texas Bookman Presents Texas Remainder Expo

Steve Madden Ltd: The Cobbler: How I Disrupted an Industry, Fell from Grace, and Came Back Stronger Than Ever by Steve Madden and Jodi Lipper

St. Martin's Griffin: The Bookshop by the Bay by Pamela M. Kelley


Gala at the NYPL: Knopf Turns 100

Jean-Luc on the red carpet

Last night at the New York Public Library, some 1,000 people celebrated the 100th anniversary of Alfred A. Knopf--an event that featured spotlights on Fifth Avenue shining into the rainy sky and a pair of real live borzois (Knopf's logo) at the entranceway. After Knopf editor-in-chief (and Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group chair) Sonny Mehta greeted guests, a striking variety of Knopf authors--and Mitchell Kaplan of Books & Books--spoke, and the common theme was praise for Knopf and its century of publishing exceptional books.

Robert Caro talked about the pleasure of having his "very long books" published by Knopf, where "old values endure." Toni Morrison recalled how she went from being a textbook editor at L.W. Singer, which was bought by Random House, to being an editor at Random House and being published by Knopf.

Patti Smith performing

Sharon Olds recited a Chaucer poem in Middle English--and modern English. James Ellroy paid electric homage to Knopf and its borzois.

And Patti Smith closed out the festivities with "a little song, a little prayer," and said, "It's been a great ride in this company, and there's more to come."

Introduced by Knopf's Paul Bogaards as "a little man-candy from Miami," Kaplan spoke of his admiration for Knopf and its books. He noted that he still does buying, and "with Knopf, it's never a question of whether to buy but how many."

Blackstone Publishing: What Remains by Wendy Walker

NOLA's Maple Street Book Shop to Close

New Orleans "literary landmark" Maple Street Book Shop, which celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2014, will close later this year, the Times-Picayune reported, noting that in the time since sisters Mary Kellogg and Rhoda Norman originally opened their bookstore in 1964, the "tiny, book-stuffed shotgun house has become a beacon for readers, local and visiting alike."

"We still have many loyal customers who visit us on a regular basis and we still see new faces coming in, but sales are just not enough for us to operate on a break-even basis," said owner Gladin Scott, who bought Maple Street Book Shop and several satellite locations in 2013. "I just want these last three months to be a celebration of the store."

GLOW: Flatiron Books: Bad Summer People by Emma Rosenblum

BookBar to Open BookBed B&B

BookBar in Denver, Colo., will open BookBed, a book-themed bed and breakfast that "will serve as stylish and comfortable lodging for book lovers, authors and writers" visiting the area, Bookselling This Week reported. The one-bedroom, 750-square-foot apartment will be available for rent via Airbnb or through BookBar's management. Plans call for the space to be "mostly completed" in time for the Mountains & Plains Independent Booksellers Association's Fall Discovery Show this month, with a formal open house scheduled for November 6.

"BookBed will complement BookBar by giving our out-of-town authors a place to stay, while hopefully at the same time luring in authors who might not otherwise know of us," said owner Nicole Sullivan. "It will also be available to writers- or authors-in-residence and book lovers, as well as those who need lodging on our street, which is a cultural district full of vibrant, independently owned shops, restaurants, and bars, but where there are virtually no lodging opportunities."

Tonight, BookBar is hosting its Grand Expand Party to celebrate the new children's, middle grade, and young adult rooms as well as a new reading room and garden patio space. 

William Morrow & Company: The God of Good Looks by Breanne Mc Ivor

Greenlight Bookstore Adds Kids' Books Pop-Up Shop

Greenlight Bookstore, Brooklyn, N.Y., is opening a children's book pop-up shop inside Play Kids, a toy store at Flatbush Avenue & Westbury Court in Prospect Lefferts Gardens.

"Greenlight is excited to partner with Play Kids," said Greenlight co-owner Rebecca Fitting. "It's not only a great opportunity for two small businesses to collaborate on a project, but having this pop-up shop inside of their toy store makes it possible for us to bring books to the neighborhood in a way that feels special."

Play Kids co-owners Carl Black and Shelley Kramer noted that "shopping small and shopping local is near and dear to our heart. Greenlight has always been our favorite bookstore to shop for ourselves and our kids, and we've often referred customers to their Fort Greene location. It's so exciting for us to now have their well-curated selection of kids books at Play Kids. We've brought the best of Brooklyn together at one location."

G.P. Putnam's Sons: The Celebrants by Steven Rowley

ABA on N.Y. Minimum Wage: Give Indies a Voice

In a letter to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, American Booksellers Association CEO Oren Teicher requested that independent booksellers be included in any discussions regarding how the minimum wage is increased, Bookselling This Week reported. Last month the governor said he wants to increase the state's minimum wage to $15 from $8.75.

Teicher wrote that although indies do not oppose increasing the minimum wage, ABA members in New York state "want to work with your office to help craft a solution that raises wages based upon sound economic principles.... If the state raises the minimum wage without including New York's independent bookstore owners in important policy discussions, they risk harming the people they are seeking to help by forcing independent businesses, which work on very small margins, to cut benefits or staff hours--or worse, to go out of business."


Image of the Day: Tracey Stewart and Do Unto Animals

With Jon at home, Tracey Stewart visited [Words] in Maplewood, N.J. (and several other New Jersey bookstores, including Clinton Book Shop and Watchung Books) to tell staff about her uplifting new book about to be released, Do Unto Animals. Pictured (from l.): Liz Zimiles, owner Jonah Zimiles, Tracey Stewart, Workman rep Joe Ginis, Louise Venokur, Carrie Harmon, Lisa Matalon, Robin Levine and Meghan Gibson. Photo by Lia Ronnen of Artisan Books, Tracey Stewart's publisher.

'Page-Turning Facts About Barnes & Noble'

"They were one of the first stores to pipe in Muzak." This was one of "14 page-turning facts about Barnes & Noble" collected by Mental Floss. Also: "In 1974, the bookstore hired ad agency Geers, DuBois to produce television spots for the New York market, a first for the industry. Their tag line--'Of course, of course'--became a minor sensation in its time."

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Jonathan Eig on Fresh Air

Today on Fresh Air: Jonathan Eig, author of The Birth of Pill: How Four Crusaders Reinvented Sex and Launched a Revolution (Norton, $16.95, 9780393351897).


Sunday on the Today Show: Andy Weir, author of The Martian (Crown/Archetype, $15, 9781101903582).


Sunday on OWN's Super Soul Sunday: Debbi Morgan, author of The Monkey on My Back: A Memoir (Infinite Words, $16, 9781593096427).


Sunday on MSNBC's Weekends with Alex Witt: David Maraniss, author of Once in a Great City: A Detroit Story (Simon & Schuster, $32.50, 9781476748382).

Movies: Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 2

A first clip and new images have been released from The Hunger Games: Mockingjay--Part 2. Indiewire reported that as the film "comes closer to release, Lionsgate is starting to amp up the promotion. This means the main Hunger Games power trio of Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, and Liam Hemsworth are on the cover of Entertainment Weekly, a final new poster has been revealed, and new photos of a final confrontation between Katniss (Lawrence) and the evil President Snow (Donald Sutherland) have been unveiled. And lastly, there's also a new clip." The Hunger Games: Mockingjay--Part 2 opens November 20.

Books & Authors

Awards: Cundill for Historical Literature Finalists

Three finalists has been named for the $75,000 Cundill Prize in Historical Literature, which is "awarded annually to an individual who has published a book determined to have had a profound literary, social and academic impact in the area of history." The grand prize winner will be announced in Toronto November 2. This year's Cundill finalists are Empire of Cotton: A Global History by Sven Beckert (Knopf), The Guardians: The League of Nations and the Crisis of Empire by Susan Pedersen (Oxford University Press) and Eichmann before Jerusalem: The Unexamined Life of a Mass Murderer by Bettina Stangneth (Bodley Head).            

Otto Penzler Founds Mysterious Press Award

Otto Penzler

Otto Penzler, president and publisher of Mysterious Press and owner of the Mysterious Bookshop in New York City, is founding the Mysterious Press Award, which will award $25,000 and worldwide publication to an e-book original mystery novel.

"Digitally published books have become a major element of the publishing landscape over the past few years," Penzler said. "Our goal is to acknowledge the outstanding work being produced in this format and reward it appropriately. We expect to have some truly wonderful manuscripts submitted for this substantial prize."'s partner in North America and many other countries around the world is Open Road. For more information about the award, click here.

Attainment: New Titles Out Next Week

Selected new titles appearing next Tuesday, October 6:

The Courage to Act: A Memoir of a Crisis and Its Aftermath by Ben S. Bernanke (Norton, $35, 9780393247213) is the memoir of the former Federal Reserve chairman. (October 5.)

100 Years of The Best American Short Stories edited by Lorrie Moore and Heidi Pitlor (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $30, 9780547485850) includes 40 stories from the past century.

The Best American Short Stories 2015 edited by T.C. Boyle and Heidi Pitlor (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $28, 9780547939407) is the hundredth volume in this short story series.

Rosemary: The Hidden Kennedy Daughter by Kate Clifford Larson (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $27, 9780547250250) is a biography of the Kennedy daughter who was lobotomized.

PT 109: An American Epic of War, Survival, and the Destiny of John F. Kennedy by William Doyle (Morrow, $27.99, 9780062346582) chronicles JFK's World War II service.

Shadows of Self by Brandon Sanderson (Tor, $27.99, 9780765378552) is book five in the Mistborn fantasy series.

Pretending to Dance: A Novel by Diane Chamberlain (St. Martin's Press, $26.99, 9781250010742) follows a woman with a secret past trying to adopt a baby.

Cleopatra's Shadows by Emily Holleman (Little, Brown, $27, 9780316382984) is historical fiction about Cleopatra's rise told through her younger sister.

Bats of the Republic: An Illuminated Novel by Zachary Thomas Dodson (Doubleday, $27.95, 9780385539838) is an illustrated story about two members of the same family separated by 300 years.

The Essential Scratch & Sniff Guide to Becoming a Whiskey Know-It-All: Know Your Booze Before You Choose by Richard Betts, Crystal English Sacca and Wendy MacNaughton (Rux Martin/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $22, 9780544520608) is a smell-based guide to whiskey types.

Fast Forward: How Women Can Achieve Power and Purpose by Melanne Verveer and Kim K. Azzarelli (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $24, 9780544527195) includes a foreword by Hillary Clinton.

Jacques Pépin Heart & Soul in the Kitchen by Jacques Pépin (Rux Martin/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $35, 9780544301986) is a companion to Pépin's final PBS series.

Zahav: A World of Israeli Cooking by Michael Solomonov and Steven Cook (Rux Martin/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $35, 9780544373280) is a cookbook by an Israeli restaurateur.

Sounds Like Me: My Life (So Far) in Song by Sara Bareilles (Simon & Schuster, $28, 9781476727776) is a musician's memoir.

Got to Give the People What They Want: True Stories and Flagrant Opinions from Center Court by Jalen Rose (Crown Archetype, $28, 9780804138901) gives opinions from an ESPN analyst and former basketball player.

Pop Goes the Weasel: A Detective Helen Grace Thriller by M.J. Arlidge (NAL, $15, 9780451475503).

Steve Jobs, adapted by Aaron Sorkin from the biography by Walter Isaacson, opens October 9. Danny Boyle directs Michael Fassbender as the the founder of Apple.

Book Brahmin: Rupert Thomson

photo: Alan Pryke

Since Rupert Thomson published his first novel, Dreams of Leaving, in 1987, he has written eight novels, including The Insult, which was shortlisted for the Guardian Fiction Prize, and chosen by David Bowie as one of his 100 Must-Read Books of All Time; Death of a Murderer, shortlisted for the Costa Prize; and The Book of Revelation, made into a feature film by the Australian writer/director Ana Kokkinos. In 2010, Thomson published a memoir, This Party's Got to Stop, which won the Writers' Guild Non-Fiction Book of the Year. According to Philip Pullman, Thomson's new novel, Katherine Carlyle (Other Press, October 6, 2015), is "the strongest and most original novel I have read in a very long time.... It's a masterpiece." Thomson has contributed to the Financial Times, the Guardian and the Independent, and lives in London.

On your nightstand now:

On my nightstand are Baudelaire's Collected Poems, which is a gift from my U.S. publisher; Days of Abandonment, a novel about the breakdown of a marriage by the Neapolitan writer Elena Ferrante; Choices, a memoir by the actress Liv Ullmann (who I met last year, and who signed the book for me!); Madness, Rack, and Honey, a book of lectures on poetry by Mary Ruefle; Drawing Surrealism, which is edited by Leslie Jones, because I sometimes look at images before I go to sleep, and because I'm researching the Surrealist movement; In a Strange Room, a novel about three different forms of love, by the South African writer Damon Galgut; and On the High Wire, by the French tightrope-walker Philippe Petit, which is both a meditation on his craft and a kind of manual for living.

Favorite book when you were a child:

Tess of the D'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy. I read all Hardy's novels when I was young, starting when I was 11 or 12. I was obsessed with his work. Aged 15, I rode all the way from my house to Hardy's house on my bicycle, a journey of 150 miles.

Your top five authors:

Patrick Modiano, Jean Rhys, Isak Dinesen (Karen Blixen), Jayne Anne Phillips and James Salter.

Book you've faked reading:

I sometimes pretend I've read Moby-Dick. It's a lie. I've probably started it three or four times, but never seem to get beyond the first 50 pages.

Book you're an evangelist for:

I used to evangelize about Michael Ondaatje--I can't count the number of copies of Coming Through Slaughter I have given to people--but after he won the Booker Prize for The English Patient he no longer needed my help. Since then, I have done the same with books by Desmond Hogan, Mary Gaitskill, Denton Welch, Yoko Ogawa and Denis Johnson.

Book you've bought for the cover:

I fell for Chronicle of the Guayaki Indians the moment I saw it. Written by Pierre Clastres, translated by Paul Auster and published by Zone Books, it is a detailed record of an encounter with a Paraguyan tribe that has now vanished. That said, I could probably have bought almost anything published by Zone Books. Their covers are famously exquisite.

Book that changed your life:

This may sound strange, but the book that changed my life is one I wrote myself. My memoir, This Party's Got to Stop, helped me to heal the rift with my youngest brother. When I embarked on the book, I hadn't seen him for 23 years, but we're now back in contact, and even though he lives in Shanghai, we talk or write to each other most days. The other book that changed my life is my first novel, Dreams of Leaving. If I hadn't written it, I wouldn't have met my wife. But that's another story.

Favorite line from a book:

Can I have a paragraph? It's from Light Years by James Salter, and it's about a parent's love for a child.

"Of them all, it was the true love. Of them all, it was the best. That other, that sumptuous love which made one drunk, which one longed for, envied, believed in, that was not life. It was what life was seeking; it was a suspension of life. But to be close to a child, for whom one spent everything, whose life was protected and nourished by one's own, to have that child beside one, at peace, was the real, the deepest, the only joy."

Which character you most relate to:

I identify with Marlow, the narrator in Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness. He's a storyteller, an observer and a traveler. He's mysterious, elusive. He has seen extraordinary things.

Book you most want to read again for the first time:

My first reading of One Hundred Years of Solitude, in my early 20s, was a eureka moment (if a eureka moment can last 400 pages). It changed the way I looked at the world. It also changed my view of what could be written. Magical realism is sometimes dismissed as being fantastical or overblown; this misses the point. What magical realism does, at its best, is to see the marvelous in the everyday.

Ten books you wish you'd written:

Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison, Gravity's Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon, Wise Blood by Flannery O'Connor, Fruits of the Earth by André Gide, The Third Policeman by Flann O'Brien, As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner, Journey to the End of the Night by Louis-Ferdinand Céline, The Tin Drum by Günter Grass, Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson and The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov.

Book Review

Review: And West Is West

And West Is West by Ron Childress (Algonquin , $26.95 hardcover, 9781616205232, October 13, 2015)

The winner of the PEN/Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction, Ron Childress's first novel pulls together operations in the military and on Wall Street for a look at the disastrous consequences of getting caught up in a corrupt system.

When Jessica Aldridge, an Air Force drone pilot in Nevada, receives the order to fire a missile at a terrorist leader 8,000 miles away in Afghanistan, she hesitates. She joined the military to help combat terrorism, but she sees two young girls in the targeted convoy. After she follows through with the shot, her guilt leads her to confess all in a letter to her incarcerated father, but an alert prison guard tips off the Air Force about the confidential information, leading to Jessica's discharge. Soon she finds herself pursued by federal agents, as her knowledge about the drone strike proves more sensitive than anyone could have predicted.

Ethan Winter's friends call him a mathematical genius, but Ethan insists he's just a Wall Street quant who happened to come up with an algorithm predicting terrorism's effect on currency rates. Average in looks and a workaholic, Ethan's worries that his girlfriend, Zoe, does not love him seem to bear out when she leaves him to work for a nonprofit organization in Washington, D.C. However, when Ethan inadvertently becomes the keeper of Zoe's family secrets, the resultant chain of events distracts him long enough for a coworker to sabotage his algorithm; Ethan loses his job and is left adrift.

Although Childress initially appears to be setting up a political thriller, what evolves is a more personal exploration of life in the wake of colossal mistakes. Regardless of whether the reader considers Ethan's and Jessica's mistakes to be allowing their emotional lives to interfere with their professional decisions or entering into morally ambiguous occupations in the first place, sympathizing with their attempts to dig out of their situations is easy. While Jessica flees for her life, certain the government will make her disappear if she is caught, Ethan lets denial swallow him, continuing to pursue Zoe as well as a dead-end lawsuit against his former employers. Their stories intersect in startling ways, proving that despite the artificial moral distance created by the technology each of them used in their professions, the world remains filled with human connections. Centered on ethical questions but never preachy, Childress's narrative ponders the meaning of conscience in a technocentric world. --Jaclyn Fulwood, blogger at Infinite Reads

Shelf Talker: A Wall Street quantitative analyst and an Air Force drone pilot face harsh realities when they become scapegoats and lose their jobs.


This Year's Kirkus Young Readers Winners

[Editor's note: Wednesday's announcement about the Kirkus Prize finalists erroneously included last year's young readers' nominees. Here are all of this year's nominees.]

Finalists have been announced in three categories for the second annual Kirkus Prize, founded by Kirkus Reviews to recognize outstanding writing by authors whose books have earned a review star in the categories of fiction, nonfiction or young readers' literature. The winners, each of whom receives $50,000, will be named October 15 in Austin, Tex. The shortlisted titles are:

The Incarnations by Susan Barker (Touchstone/Simon & Schuster)‬
A Manual for Cleaning Women by Lucia Berlin (FSG)
Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff (Riverhead)
The Story of My Teeth by Valeria Luiselli, translated by Christina MacSweeney (Coffee House Press)
The Book of Aron by Jim Shepard (Knopf)
A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara (Doubleday)

Between the World and Me: Notes on the First 150 Years in America by Ta-Nehisi Coates (Spiegel & Grau)
Whirlwind: The American Revolution and the War that Won It by John Ferling (Bloomsbury)
H Is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald (Grove)
The Deluge: The Great War, America and the Remaking of the Global Order, 1916-1931 by Adam Tooze (Viking)
Pacific: Silicon Chips and Surfboards, Coral Reefs and Atom Bombs, Brutal Dictators, Fading Empires, and the Coming Collision of the World's Superpowers by Simon Winchester (Harper)
The Invention of Nature: Alexander von Humboldt's New World by Andrea Wulf (Knopf)

Young Readers' Literature

Picture Books:
The New Small Person by Lauren Child (Candlewick)
Lillian's Right to Vote: A Celebration of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 by Jonah Winter, illustrated by Shane W. Evans (Schwartz & Wade/Random House)

Middle Grade:
Echo by Pam Muñoz Ryan (Scholastic)
Funny Bones: Posada and His Day of the Dead Calaveras by Duncan Tonatiuh (Abrams)

Young Adult:
The Game of Love and Death by Martha Brockenbrough (Levine/Scholastic)
Shadowshaper by Daniel José Older (Levine/Scholastic)

Deeper Understanding

Robert Gray: The Complexity of Reading for Pleasure

I think of myself as being essentially a reader. As you are aware, I have ventured into writing; but I think that what I have read is far more important than what I have written. For one reads what one likes--yet one writes not what one would like to write, but what one is able to write. --Jorge Luis Borges

So... I saw this London Review Bookshop video... about reading... for pleasure.

Later this month, The Pleasure of Reading: 43 Writers on the Discovery of Reading & the Books that Inspired Them will be released by Bloomsbury USA. Edited by Antonia Fraser and Victoria Gray, the book, first published in 1992 to mark the bicentenary of WH Smith, was reissued with additional contributors as a paperback in the U.K. earlier this year.  

In her essay for the anthology, Kamila Shamsie observes: "Now my reading life covers much wider ground than it did in childhood when writers such as C. S. Lewis and J. M. Barrie simultaneously opened up the universe and circumscribed it--from Tolstoy and Toni Morrison to Ali Smith and Juan Gabriel Vásquez the world sits on my bookshelf. But although I recognize the richness and breadth of my adult library, I miss the deep pleasures of childhood reading, the intensity which sent me back to books--and not just the most loved ones--over and over again."

Sometimes a confession is in order. Here's mine: I have a complicated relationship with the concept of reading for pleasure. Because I "read for a living," sometimes I have to remind myself that there was a long period in my life when I read strictly for pleasure, for enlightenment, for amusement, for solace, for the hell of it. Although this does still happen, after all these years I've sacrificed a little something almost indefinable. I do get pleasure from reading, but when I open a new book, a now instinctive set of goals and expectations cloud my idealism, if that's what it is.

Often I read books people ask me to read. Or I read with a nagging corner of my brain whispering, "Will this sell?" Or I read the surface of a book to get through it just to be able to say "been there, read that." I worry sometimes that even though I encounter good books regularly, I may have lost some of the pleasure principle.

"People who read regularly for pleasure have greater levels of self-esteem, are less stressed, and can cope better with difficult situations than lapsed or non-readers," the Bookseller reported earlier this year. So there's that. But reading for pleasure isn't as simple as it sounds.

In a New Yorker essay last year, Rebecca Mead recalled: "It's a common and easy enough distinction, this separation of books into those we read because we want to and those we read because we have to, and it serves as a useful marketing trope for publishers, especially when they are trying to get readers to take this book rather than that one to the beach. But it's a flawed and pernicious division.... [T]here are pleasures to be had from books beyond being lightly entertained. There is the pleasure of being challenged; the pleasure of feeling one's range and capacities expanding; the pleasure of entering into an unfamiliar world, and being led into empathy with a consciousness very different from one's own; the pleasure of knowing what others have already thought it worth knowing, and entering a larger conversation.... There's pleasure in ambition, too."

For the past few years, I've found the best way for me to "read for pleasure" is a meditative, almost ceremonial morning read. With my first cup of coffee, I also sip from a book--sometimes old and sometimes new. I may read a few pages or a chapter or even the same page a half-dozen times.

This morning, I read: "Through writing what I had thought would be a very short prologue in a place and time I didn't know at all, I discovered the pleasure and deeply satisfying challenge of writing yourself from ignorance into familiarity rather than mining the stories you'd lived your whole life. I didn't immediately realize that I was severing the cord which had connected the most essential part of me--the writerly part--to the country of my birth and upbringing."

The passage is from another essay by Kamila Shamsie, published in the slender yet powerful anthology 1914: Goodbye to All That--Writers on the Conflict Between Life & Art. Reading those words was in itself a "deeply satisfying challenge," even if I was simply exercising my right to a quiet morning read, with a mug of coffee... for pleasure. --Robert Gray, contributing editor (column archives available at Fresh Eyes Now)

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