Also published on this date: Thursday, October 17, 2019: Maximum Shelf: The Yellow Bird Sings

Shelf Awareness for Thursday, October 17, 2019


Simon Pulse: Of Curses and Kisses by Sandhya Menon

Workman Publishing: Click to see full Holiday Quick Pick catalog!

Bunim & Bannigan Ltd: David Lazar by Robert Kalich

Magination Press: Bee Heartful: Spread Loving-Kindness by Frank J Sileo, illustrated by Claire Keay

Dundurn Group: Never Forget: A Victor Lessard Thriller (A Victor Lessard Thriller #1) by Martin Michaud

Flatiron Books: Miss Austen by Gill Hornby

News

The Frankfurt CEO Talk: Netflix's Luegenbiehl

For the first time, the annual CEO Talk at the Frankfurt Book Fair did not involve a publishing executive, but rather featured Kelly Luegenbiehl, v-p of international originals for Netflix, in conversation with publisher and consultant Ruediger Wischenbart. 

Coinciding with the Book Fair, Netflix announced three new adaptations of literary properties: Fredrik Backman's upcoming novel Anxious People, Elif Safak's 2009 novel The Forty Rules of Love, and Daniel Kehlmann's Tyll. During the CEO talk, Luegenbiehl also provided an early screening of a trailer for an upcoming series adaptation of Todd Strasser's novel The Wave, which will be called We Are the Wave.

When asked to compare Netflix's role with that of a traditional publisher, Luegenbiehl answered that the company views its job as simply helping "storytellers bring their visions to life," and looks at the publishers and editors attending the book fair not as competitors in telling stories but as partners. She said the company has no plans to go into publishing, and actually relies on the book industry to find out what stories are resonating around the world.

Wischenbart suggested that Luegenbiehl was perhaps being a little modest, noting that while no precise figures exist in the public domain, reports suggest that content development at Netflix is worth between $12 billion and $15 billion per year. Comparatively, Penguin Random House reports revenues of €3.5 billion, or just under $4 billion, making Netflix around "three times the size of the largest consumer book publisher in the world."

On the subject of the vast amounts of data the company collects, Luegenbiehl said that Netflix doesn't collect any data about a customer's age, ethnicity, gender or the like. When a customer signs up, she explained, Netflix gets an e-mail address and payment info, and that's it. Virtually all of Netflix's data is generated by customers' behavior on the platform, particularly what they decide to watch and whether they finish watching.

In its efforts to acquire content, Luegenbiehl explained, Netflix does give publishers some broad guidelines about what they're interested in, such as specific genres, countries or regions of origin, or stories featuring diverse characters. She described the process as a "combination of art and science," with data guiding the search but much of it still resting on "gut instinct and human intuition." While their data might show that there is a healthy audience for YA romance or some other genre, she elaborated, at the end of the day "it's about execution."

Asked whether Netflix was working on some kind of AI system that could generate new stories and script ideas based on all the data it's collected, Luegenbiehl said there are no plans for that, adding: "Everyone who comes to work at our company really values creative and artistic freedom, and our ability to be able to give that to our storyteller partners is something that's really important." --Alex Mutter


Quirk Books: Spark and the League of Ursus by Robert Repino


Beehive Bookshop to Open in Dalton, Ga.

Susan Beck is launching children's bookstore Beehive Bookshop at 330 South Hamilton St. in Dalton, Ga., with a tentative opening date planned for mid-November. Bookselling This Week reported that Beck was inspired to open her own store after reading Sarah Mackenzie's The Read-Aloud Family: Making Meaningful and Lasting Connections with Your Kids (Zondervan).

Beck recalled that Mackenzie's "mission was very powerful to me. It was so powerful that when it was time to take the book back to the library, I got sad I didn't own a copy. And I thought, well, I'll just go buy one." She also wanted to pick up a few titles the book recommended, but "that's when I realized there were no independent bookstores nearby. The closest big bookstore, Barnes & Noble, is nearly 30 miles away. We have a small Books-a-Million, but there was nowhere else to buy a book."

That sparked the idea for her own store, which is still under construction and will feature 1,100 square feet of retail space, with a small section for events. Although the inventory will focus on children's titles, a small selection of adult books will be stocked as well. She also plans to host book clubs for middle-grade readers and teenagers, as well as one for women and moms in the community, beginning in 2020.

Beck said the inspiration for the store's name came from the nature of beehives: "There's a proverb that says, 'Kind words are like honey--sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.' Of course, honey comes from our bees, and I think the world needs some more kindness." Beehives are also a place where bees gather, working together toward a goal, which she said is in line with the community focus of the bookstore: "I'm not a book expert. I'm just a mom who wants a fun place that makes reading fun for my kids and for other families in the community....

"I'm also looking forward to building connections with other moms and kids, as well as supporting our libraries and our teachers. The support from other independent bookstores has been absolutely amazing. People go out of their way to answer questions. It's such a supportive community, and I just want to thank everybody for every little bit of advice I've gotten along the way."


Soho Teen: Me and Mr. Cigar by Gibby Haynes


Storied Owl Books Celebrates Grand Opening

Storied Owl Books hosted its official grand opening September 28 at 2059 Randolph Ave. in St. Paul, Minn. Co-owners Amy Turany and Marcus Mayer celebrated with treats, crafts and a drawing for prizes. The Oracle reported that the "event had a high turnout that included local book lovers and university students." The store is directly across from the campus of St. Catherine University.

Storied Owl "is the perfect place to find a book to keep warm with through the oncoming winter," the Oracle noted. "Flowers and plants line the windows, books are stacked in every available space and pumpkins are placed in odd corners to herald the beginning of fall. Storied Owl is a book lover’s retreat from the bustling world outside its doors."


New World Library: We Are the Luckiest: The Surprising Magic of a Sober Life by Laura McKowen


Women & Children First Responds to Anti-Trans Incidents

Chicago's Women & Children First bookstore is planning a Community Activation event this Sunday in response to a recent spate of anti-trans harassment incidents. On three occasions over the past three weeks, anti-transgender stickers have been placed on the front window of the feminist bookstore.

"Join us as we come together to celebrate trans lives!" the announcement reads. "In response to recent transphobic harassment at Women & Children First, we are inviting our community to cover Andersonville in trans flags, trans colors, and trans affirming messages. We will provide chalk, flags, and stickers, but we welcome more donated supplies! Meet up at Women & Children First at 6 p.m. for this community activation event and extend your love, support and protection to all trans women and people."

Store manager H. Melt, who is transgender, told the Chicago Tribune: "This is happening in my neighborhood--and literally in my backyard. I'm extremely paranoid that I'm going to see those stickers again and be triggered again, or that one of my employees is going to see them. It has affected folks for sure."

They brought attention to the issue last Friday, with a tweet that garnered more than 2,000 likes "and sparked an outpouring of support from customers and booksellers, who flocked to the store over the weekend. Celebrated writers--including Celeste Ng and Rebecca Makkai--chimed in or retweeted," the Tribune wrote.

"There have been hundreds of positive, affirming messages from people all over the world," H. Melt said.

Women & Children First co-owner Sarah Hollenbeck said she is devastated by the stickers, which she declined to quote because she doesn't want to publicize the transphobic message. Noting that all of the offending stickers were put on the window when the store was closed and were easily removable, she wondered: "What is the long-term goal? Just to make us feel terrorized and harassed and on edge?"

Yesterday, the bookstore posted on Facebook: "Thank you to everyone who has shown their support for the bookstore in response to the harassment we've experienced. We look forward to joining together on Sunday to demonstrate that hate is not welcome in Andersonville!"


Dutton Books: The Girl with the Louding Voice by Abi Dare


Lieberman's Bookstore in Newark, Del., Closing

Lieberman's Bookstore in Newark, Del., announced this week that it will close at the end of October after more than 20 years in business, the Review reported.

"Over the last 20 years, it has been a pleasure catering to the student body of the University of Delaware, providing textbooks, rentals, supplies, apparel and gifts," wrote partner Marshall Lieberman in an announcement of the store's closing. "This community has been so warm and welcoming, and we will miss serving you in the future."

Though the store will cease all retail operations after October 31, it will reopen its storefront during the last two weeks of the fall semester to collect rental returns. Through the end of the month, the store will hold a final "blowout" sale with university apparel and gifts discounted between 30-50%.

The Review, which is the independent student newspaper of the University of Delaware, noted that compared to other retailers in the area, Lieberman's typically offered lower prices on books and textbooks, and with the store's closure "students will face a less competitive textbook market in the city, which could increase book prices."


Obituary Note: Ann Combs

Ann Combs

Ann Combs, longtime bookseller at Eagle Harbor Book Co., Bainbridge Island, Wash., died October 15. She was 84. Combs, who retired less than a week earlier, had worked at the store for more than two decades.

"Our Ann has gone and we are bereft," said owner Jane Danielson. "No longer will we be regaled by her clever jokes, limericks, and show tunes for every occasion. She found the humor in every situation, and her lively stories were endlessly entertaining. Ann was an iconic and irreplaceable presence in the bookstore. Everyone who knew her was better for it, and we will miss her dearly."

In a statement announcing Combs's death, EHBC bookseller Victoria Irwin observed: "Ann epitomized the heart and soul of the store, and many customers would come in just to talk to her. She usually made sure they left with a book. Ann was also known to order books for customers that she thought they'd like, and then call them to come 'pick up your book!' Her picks were always on target."

Combs raised six kids, but also had time to be a newspaper columnist and write four books (a children's title and three memoirs). Her most popular book, Helter Shelter, was reissued as Once Upon a Two by Four in 2012, and remains a brisk seller at EHBC to this day, Irwin added. Her staff recommendations--the latest being Lake Of the Ozarks by Bill Geist--"always led to strong sales for authors."


Notes

How to 'Open & Sustain' a Small Indie in the Adirondacks

"Question: In the age of Amazon, and in the midst of major book retailers scaling back, how do you open and sustain an independent bookstore in the Adirondacks?" asked North Country Public Radio. "Answer: (via Jessie Fischer, owner of the Book Nook in Saranac Lake) Keep it small, and never take a vacation."

The bookshop "is lined with floor to ceiling shelves, everything is in wood," NCPR reported. "The design was an attempt to balance Adirondack charm with urban design, which mimics Fischer's attempts to create a bookstore that appeals to locals and tourists."

"What locals don't want is like 'everything Adirondack-themed; we live here, we don't want to see that constantly!' But you want to also find that happy medium for your tourists coming in who want the Adirondack experience," said Fischer, who opened the Book Nook in 2017.

She added that the bookstore has worked because she's gotten local support: "I think it's a small town thing? Like, the community base. I know our prices are a lot more expensive. And we can't price match Amazon... but the money you spend in Saranac Lake stays in Saranac Lake. It helps benefit other people in Saranac Lake and other businesses, and allows us to do kids' events and donate to local organizations. Where Amazon won't do that, and doesn't really care about your community."


New Logo for the Frugal Frigate in Redlands, Calif.

Earlier this summer, Erin Rivera purchased the Frugal Frigate Children's Bookstore in Redlands, Calif., from Gay Kolodzik, who had owned the store since 2010.

Last week, the bookshop posted on its Facebook page: "We are super excited to unveil our new logo that we have been working on with our graphic designer! A color version is also in the works. If any of you recall the original logo from when the store opened in 1988, we were striving for paying homage to that logo, but with a fresh take. The Art Nouveau feel with the illustrative style felt like the right way to do that. We hope you like it! Artistic credit to www.margotlouise.com."

A final color version of the new logo was shared on Facebook Monday, "and we couldn't be happier with the end result! We hope you love it as much as we do!"


Personnel Changes at Shambhala; Amazon

Elina Vaysbeyn has joined Shambhala Publications as sales & marketing director. Vaysbeyn was most recently associate marketing director at Dutton and earlier was online marketing manager at Simon & Schuster.

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Colleen Lindsay has left her position as publicity lead at Amazon Publishing and can be contacted via e-mail.


Media and Movies

Media Heat: Gilbert Gaul on Fresh Air

Today:
CBS This Morning: Ben Crump, author of Open Season: Legalized Genocide of Colored People (Amistad, $26.99, 9780062375094).

Fresh Air: Gilbert Gaul, author of The Geography of Risk: Epic Storms, Rising Seas, and the Cost of America's Coasts (Sarah Crichton Books, $28, 9780374160807).

Tomorrow:
CBS This Morning: Simon Sinek, author of The Infinite Game (Portfolio, $28, 9780735213500).

Ellen: Jenna Dewan, author of Gracefully You: Finding Beauty and Balance in the Everyday (Gallery, $29.99, 9781501191510).

Live with Kelly and Ryan: Julie Andrews, co-author of Home Work: A Memoir of My Hollywood Years (Hachette Books, $30, 9780316349253).

Late Show with Stephen Colbert repeat: Hillary Clinton and Chelsea Clinton, authors of The Book of Gutsy Women: Favorite Stories of Courage and Resilience (Simon & Schuster, $35, 9781501178412).


This Weekend on Book TV: The Wisconsin Book Festival

Book TV airs on C-Span 2 this weekend from 8 a.m. Saturday to 8 a.m. Monday and focuses on political and historical books as well as the book industry. The following are highlights for this coming weekend. For more information, go to Book TV's website.

Saturday, October 19
11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Coverage of the 2019 Wisconsin Book Festival in Madison, Wis. (Re-airs Sunday at 12 a.m.) Highlights include:

  • 11:30 a.m. Farah Pandith, author of How We Win: How Cutting-Edge Entrepreneurs, Political Visionaries, Enlightened Business Leaders, and Social Media Mavens Can Defeat the Extremist Threat (Custom House, $28.99, 9780062471154).
  • 1 p.m. Donna Brazile, Yolanda Caraway and Minyon Moore, authors of For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Politics (Picador, $18, 9781250137739).
  • 2:30 p.m. Anne Nelson, author of Shadow Network: Media, Money, and the Secret Hub of the Radical Right (Bloomsbury, $28, 9781635573190).
  • 4 p.m. Marie Arana, author of Silver, Sword, and Stone: Three Crucibles in the Latin American Story (Simon & Schuster, $30, 9781501104244).
  • 5:30 p.m. Adam Rippon, author of Beautiful on the Outside: A Memoir (Grand Central, $28, 9781538732403).
  • 7 p.m. Leslie Jamison, author of Make It Scream, Make It Burn: Essays (Little, Brown, $28, 9780316259637).
  • 8:30 p.m. Megan Phelps-Roper, author of Unfollow: A Memoir of Loving and Leaving the Westboro Baptist Church (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $27, 9780374275839).
  • 10 p.m. Michele Filgate, author and editor of What My Mother and I Don't Talk About: Fifteen Writers Break the Silence (Simon & Schuster, $26, 9781982107345).

11 p.m. Gregg Jarrett, author of Witch Hunt: The Story of the Greatest Mass Delusion in American Political History (Broadside, $29.99, 9780062960092). (Re-airs Sunday at 9 p.m. and Monday at 12 a.m. and 3 a.m.)

Sunday, October 20
6:55 p.m. Frank Mackaman and Sean Kelly, authors of Robert H. Michel: Leading the Republican House Minority (University Press of Kansas, $29.95, 9780700627592).

10 p.m. Mike German, author of Disrupt, Discredit, and Divide: How the New FBI Damages Democracy (The New Press, $27.99, 9781620973790).



Books & Authors

Awards: Cundill History FInalists; JCB Literature Shortlist

Finalists have been unveiled for the $75,000 Cundill History Prize, administered by McGill University in Montreal. The winner will be named November 14, with two runners-up each receiving $10,000. This year's finalists are:

Reckonings: Legacies of Nazi Persecution and the Quest for Justice by Mary Fulbrook (Oxford University Press)
These Truths: A History of the United States by Jill Lepore (Norton)
Maoism: A Global History by Julia Lovell (Knopf)

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The shortlist has been released for the 2019 JCB Prize for Literature, which was established last year to celebrate "distinguished writing by Indian authors" working in English or translated fiction, the Bookseller reported. The prize money is 25 lakh (about $35,525). If the winning work is a translation, the translator receives an additional 10 lakh (approximately $14,115). The winner will be announced November 2. This year's shortlisted titles are:

Ib's Endless Search for Satisfaction by Roshan Ali
The Far Field by Madhuri Vijay
A Lonely Harvest by Perumal Murugan, translated by Aniruddhan Vasudevan
Trial by Silence by Perumal Murugan, translated by Aniruddhan Vasudevan
My Father's Garden by Hansda Sowvendra Shekhar
There's Gunpowder in the Air by Manoranjan Byapari, translated by Arunava Sinha


Attainment: New Titles Out Next Week

Selected new titles appearing next Tuesday, October 22:

Agent Running in the Field: A Novel by John le Carré (Viking, $29, 9781984878878) is the author's latest espionage thriller, this time with an anti-Brexit angle.

Morning Glory on the Vine: Early Songs and Drawings by Joni Mitchell (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $40, 9780358181729) collects the musician's lyrics and illustrations.

Edison by Edmund Morris (Random House, $38, 9780812993110) is a biography of the famed inventor and self-promoter.

The Night Fire by Michael Connelly (Little, Brown, $29, 9780316485616) is the 22nd mystery with Renée Ballard and Harry Bosch.

All This Could Be Yours by Jami Attenberg (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $26, 9780544824256) follows a New Orleans family full of secrets.

Binging with Babish: 100 Recipes Recreated from Your Favorite Movies and TV Shows by Andrew Rea (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $30, 9781328589897) is a cookbook by a YouTube chef.

The Official Bright Line Eating Cookbook: Weight Loss Made Simple by Susan Peirce Thompson (Hay House, $30, 9781401957131) is a weight loss cookbook.

The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse by Charlie Mackesy (HarperOne, $22.99, 9780062976581) collects illustrated fables for all ages.

Just Feel: How to Be Stronger, Happier, Healthier, and More by Mallika Chopra (Running Press Kids, $12.99, 9780762494743) is a follow-up to Just Breathe, about problem solving and finding inner strength.

Light It Up by Kekla Magoon (Holt, $18.99, 9781250128898) is a companion to Magoon's 2014 YA title, How It Went Down.


IndieBound: Other Indie Favorites

From last week's Indie bestseller lists, available at IndieBound.org, here are the recommended titles, which are also Indie Next Great Reads:

Hardcover
Tuesday Mooney Talks to Ghosts: A Novel by Kate Racculia (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $26, 9780358023937). "Tuesday Mooney is smart, intrepid, and just a little bit lost--even 20 years after her best friend disappears without a trace. A prospect researcher by trade, she dives in deep when a strange and reclusive billionaire dies and leaves puzzles throughout the city in an elaborate treasure hunt. While this fun and affecting book could have won me over just by being a romp, there is more here. Tuesday and her compatriots are all forced to confront the traumas that have stunted their lives and find new strength in their relationships. I couldn't have asked for more!" --Anmiryam Budner, Main Point Books, Wayne, Pa.

How to Catch a Mole: Wisdom From a Life Lived in Nature by Marc Hamer (Greystone Books, $24.95, 9781771644792). "Sublimely touching (and with the softest of hands), this book has that balance of warmth and cold that makes for good nature writing. Hamer's observations demonstrate both a refusal to look away and a tender love for the environment around him. His memoir of a life spent catching moles waxes and wanes, at times gruesome, sensual, violent, and awestruck. This is a book for fans of the way that Mary Oliver lived and talked about her life." --Afton Montgomery, Tattered Cover Book Store, Denver, Colo.

Paperback
The Dakota Winters: A Novel by Tom Barbash (Ecco, $16.99, 9780062258212). "In The Dakota Winters, Barbash delivers a sweeping family saga that transports readers to the New York City of the late '70s and early '80s, to Central Park, the Village, the restaurant and club scenes, from the Beatles to the Flying Lizards to your average dysfunctional family living at the Dakota--the Winters. The story follows two conflicting arcs: that of fading father and late-night host Buddy Winter and that of his emerging 23-year-old son Anton. I loved Barbash's first novel, The Last Good Time, and The Dakota Winters does not disappoint. You'll want to savor every sentence of this powerful chronicle of the times!" --Bill Reilly, the river's end bookstore, Oswego, N.Y.

For Ages 4 to 8
SumoKitty by David Biedrzycki (Charlesbridge, $18.99, 9781580896825). "SumoKitty is a humorous, enjoyable tale of a stray kitty who is taken in at a sumo wrestling training center. SumoKitty lives an easy life and becomes quite plump and a bit lazy, and because of this he is put back out as a stray. When he is given a second chance, he must train and learn the values and traditions of a sumo wrestler in order to be in good enough shape to catch mice and earn his keep at the sumo heya. This story is filled with elements of Japanese culture and vocabulary while teaching the importance of dedication and perseverance. A delightful read-aloud with an inspiring message and a humorous tone." --Colleen Shipman, Phoenix Books, Essex Junction, Vt.

For Ages 9 to 12: An Indies Introduce title
Emmy in the Key of Code by Aimee Lucido (Versify, $16.99, 9780358040828). "Resonant verse melds together the world of music and the world of code--two worlds that Emmy is unsure can coexist as she navigates through the ups and downs of starting a new school, finding her passions, and making true friends. This book brought me right back to the emotions of my middle-school years and I'm sure that in the right hands, it will mean the world to someone." --Casey Leidig, Green Apple Books on the Park, San Francisco, Calif.

For Teen Readers
The Beautiful by Renée Ahdieh (Putnam, $18.99, 9781524738174). "A lustrous and seductive answer to a call for more vampire lore, The Beautiful excels at creating a moody and romantic atmosphere without sacrificing storytelling or character development. Celine is a heroine for the ages: sharp, calculating, and full of hidden depth. Bastien is similarly fleshed out and certainly swoon-worthy enough to elicit a reader crush. I love Ahdieh's dedication to historical detail and mythological research, and I can't wait for more stories of her New Orleans." --Sami Thomason, Square Books, Oxford, Miss.

[Many thanks to IndieBound and the ABA!]


Book Review

Review: Carrie Fisher: A Life on the Edge

Carrie Fisher: A Life on the Edge by Sheila Weller (Sarah Crichton/FSG, $28 hardcover, 416p., 9780374282233, November 12, 2019)

Until author Sheila Weller wrote 2008's Girls Like Us: Carole King, Joni Mitchell, Carly Simon--and the Journey of a Generation, her subjects had tended toward the lurid (e.g., Raging Heart: The Intimate Story of the Tragic Marriage of O.J. and Nicole Brown Simpson). That such a writer has tackled the life story of Carrie Fisher would likely have amused the actress, who was also an author, a script doctor and, perhaps above all, an irreverent wit.

From her stage show and subsequent book Wishful Drinking, Carrie Fisher was known for her comic observations about the trials of being the offspring of flamboyant actress Debbie Reynolds and caddish crooner Eddie Fisher; about sealing her fate (for better or worse) and fortunes (for better) as brainy badass Princess Leia in 1977's Star Wars; and about coping with drug addiction and bipolar disorder. (Weller notes that Fisher was one of the first celebrities to discuss publicly having a mental illness.) Given Fisher's openness about her life, any Carrie Fisher biographer would have a galactic challenge: What can she tell readers that Fisher hasn't already?

Lots, if that biographer is Weller. She cast a net far and wide to land interviews with subjects famous and not, speaking on the record and off, but Fisher defenders nearly all. In Carrie Fisher: A Life on the Edge, Weller blends their recollections with what she calls Fisher's "provocative, braggingly self-deprecating (a neat trick), honest enough" accounts, as of her early failed marriage to singer-songwriter Paul Simon and her late-career weight gain. The result is a robust, many-faceted portrait of a woman whose longstanding feminism (Fisher marched for the Equal Rights Amendment in the 1980s) elevated everything she touched. Here's Fisher the script doctor's rule of thumb: "Make the women smarter--and the love scenes better." Weller reminds readers that Carrie-as-Leia's likeness was ubiquitous at the Women's March in January 2017, one month after the actress's sudden death at age 60; the cause was cardiac arrest with a likely assist from the drugs named in her toxicology report--a heartbreaking exit given her decades devoted to exorcising her personal demons.

The question while reading Carrie Fisher isn't "How did her life veer off course?" but "How did she keep it together for so long?" The answer would seem to lie in Fisher's mutual emotional support system. Going by the company described in Weller's book, it would probably be quicker to list the people who weren't Fisher's friends than the people who were. --Nell Beram, author and freelance writer

Shelf Talker: This satisfying biography of Carrie Fisher, the late actress, writer, wit and mental-health advocate, brings to the fore two additional defining attributes: feminist and friend.


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