Shelf Awareness for Monday, November 2, 2020


Shambhala: Wait: A Love Letter to Those in Despair by Cuong Lu

Other Press: Nuestra América: My Family in the Vertigo of Translation by Claudio Lomnitz

Scholastic Press: Muted by Tami Charles

Berkley Books: The Most Beautiful Girl in Cuba by Chanel Cleeton

Quotation of the Day

Sean Connery: 'Books and Reading Changed My Life'

"I spent my South Pacific tour in every library in Britain, Ireland, Scotland and Wales. And on the nights we were dark, I'd see every play I could. But it's the books, the reading, that can change one's life. I'm the living evidence."

--Sean Connery, from an interview with the Houston Chronicle in 1992, quoted on Saturday in a New York Times obituary, discussing a reading list given to him by a mentor during his first acting gig after a hardscrabble early life.

Aftershock Comics: Kill a Man by Steve Orlando and Phillip Kennedy Johnson, illustrated by Alec Morgan


News

AAP Sales: 14.6% Jump in September; Trade Up 20.9%

Reflecting another full month when much of the country was under stay-at-home orders or business was otherwise limited because of the Covid-19 pandemic, total net book sales in September in the U.S. rose 14.6%, to $1.77 billion, compared to September 2019, representing sales of 1,354 publishers and distributed clients as reported to the Association of American Publishers. It was the second rise in sales this year since February, following August's 0.3% gain. For the year to date, total net book sales were down 1.8%, to $11.2 billion.

Again, as happened in July and August, trade sales rose significantly and grew faster than non-trade categories. Trade sales were up 20.9%, to $939.9 million, compared to September 2019. And for the first nine months of the year, trade sales are up 7.8%, to $5.9 billion.

By format, categories with sales gains of at least 20% in September compared to September 2019 included trade mass market (88.1%), trade board books (35.2%), trade hardcovers (24.8%), trade paperbacks (21.6%) and all e-books (22.1%). Downloaded audio sales rose 15%, to nearly $60 million, continuing its record of growth every month since 2012, and sales for the year to date are nearly half a billion dollars.

Sales by category in September 2020 compared to September 2019:


GLOW: Beacon Press: Boyz n the Void: a mixtape to my brother by G'Ra Asim


Womb Bookstore Opens in Hawaii

The Womb Bookstore, Kapaa, Hawaii, on Kauai island, held its grand opening ceremony on Saturday with a lei untying, the Garden Island reported.

Founded by Keri Cooks, the Womb Bookstore is "a boutique bookstore that specializes in books that make a person think," the newspaper wrote. "The store has books for children and adults specially curated by the owner. The store also sells crystals, sage, journals, and incense. The bookstore is also an event space with the goal of inviting the community to learn and grow together. Future events will be held indoors and outdoors permissible by law."

Cooks worked as a geophysicist in the oil and gas industry for six years. While visiting the island for a month in 2019 she noticed there were not many bookstores on the island and was reminded of her childhood dream of being a librarian, the paper continued. "With the downturn of the oil and gas industry, Cooks decided to start a new life as a bookstore owner in paradise and create the space she was looking for."

Cooks commented: "As babies, we come into the world as a completely blank slate. We learn everything from how to talk to walk, etc. That education continues for the rest of our lives, we learn how to write, drive a car, do calculus. Somewhere along the line, we get busy, life happens, and we forget about the joys of learning. The Womb Bookstore gives patrons the opportunity to return to that sense of curiosity and read about topics like love, astrology, nature, and philosophy."


Berkley Books: Dial A for Aunties by Jesse Q Sutanto


Wisconsin's Niche Book Bar Launches Fundraiser

Cetonia Weston-Roy has launched a $55,000 Kickstarter campaign to open Niche Book Bar, Milwaukee, which she says will be Wisconsin's only Black-owned bookstore focused on serving up varied Black Literature outside of trauma-based books. It'll also offer wine. "The idea has been a lifetime in the making," she said, describing herself as "a longtime bookworm."

Weston-Roy is taking the step after "overwhelmingly positive community feedback for Niche Book Bike in the summer of 2020." A "bookstore on wheels," the Niche Book Bike is a large tricycle that Weston-Roy set up at Sherman Phoenix, a community and cultural center that houses many small businesses, on Saturday mornings and at Carver Park on Tuesday evenings. Other times she has ridden through neighborhoods "so people can see me."

Weston-Roy added: "Niche Book Bar seeks to make varied Black literature easily accessible in its upcoming store front. The greater Milwaukee community, and beyond, has an opportunity to support the future of Niche Book Bar and its impact! Niche will continue to support Black authors, youth and adults who seek literature where they are represented, and help to enrich the Bronzeville neighborhood. Giving to the Kickstarter is much more than a donation, it is an investment in literacy, economic support for local authors, and the joy of a good book."


NYC's Books of Wonder's Downtown Store Opens in New Location

The flagship Books of Wonder store in New York City has opened in its new location at 42 W. 17th St. Owner Peter Glassman told friends and customers, "This is no Halloween trick! And we hope you'll find it a treat! The new store is literally just around the corner from our old 18th Street location! Everyone here has been working so hard to make the store ready and, though we're only about 80% finished, we've decided we are ready to open our doors and resume doing what we love most--sharing our love of children's books with you and your young readers!...

"We're still between 5th and 6th Avenues and we can't wait to show you our new home. We're very excited about it and hope you will come to love it as much as you loved our old store.

"We'll continue to be busy over the next week or so getting everything squared away and the last sections of the store open, but in the meantime, we are now open for business at our new location 7 days a week from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.!"

Three weeks ago, Books of Wonder closed its 18th St. location, where it had been for 24 years. During that time, its Upper West Side store, at 217 W. 84th St., stayed open and Books of Wonder continued its all virtual and events and storytimes as scheduled.


Obituary Note: Richard A. Lupoff

Prolific author Richard A. Lupoff, who wrote numerous science fiction works and "was best known in fandom for co-editing fanzine Xero [a 1963 Hugo Award winner] with his wife Pat Lupoff and Bhob Stewart," died October 22, Locus magazine reported. He was 85. "The Lupoffs were active in comics and SF fandom starting in the 1960s, hosting meetings of the (Second) Futurian Society in Manhattan and helping to found the Fanoclasts." Pat Lupoff died in 2018.

Richard Lupoff's debut novel was One Million Centuries (1967), followed by many others, including Sacred Locomotive Flies (1971), Nebula Award finalist Sword of the Demon (1977), The Triune Man (1976), Space War Blues (1978), Into the Aether (1974); the Twin Planet series, Circumpolar! (1984) and Countersolar! (1987); and the Sun's End series, Sun's End (1984) and Galaxy's End (1988).

Lupoff was also an expert on the work of Edgar Rice Burroughs, "helping to bring his work back into print in the '60s and writing about him extensively," Locus noted. "He also wrote Buck Rogers tie-ins under the name Addison E. Steele." His nonfiction includes the essay collection Writer at Large (1998) as well as a four-volume autobiography.

In a tribute, File 770's Mike Glyer wrote: "By the start of the 21st century, Dick and Pat Lupoff, who had raised three children, also were looked on as the lineal ancestors of comics fandom, a fact they celebrated by publishing a book of selections from their famous fanzine, The Best of Xero (2004)--which was, in turn, nominated for the Best Related Book Hugo (2005)."

Neil Gaiman tweeted: "I just heard that author Richard Lupoff, Dick to his friends, is dead. The only time we met I told him how much I loved his novel Into the Aether. Years later I wrote an introduction to the comic that preceded it, The Adventures of Professor Thintwhistle. I'm so sorry he's gone."


Notes

Pass Christian Books Weathers Hurricane Zeta

Pass Christian Books before the storm
View from the store post-storm

Following up on our report about New Orleans booksellers in the wake of Hurricane Zeta last week, Scott Naugle, co-owner of Pass Christian Books and Cat Island Coffeehouse in Pass Christian, Miss., checked in with an update on his business. As of Friday, "we are still without power. We did not have any building damage and hope to have power restored within a few more days." The store is located on the Gulf of Mexico at the Pass Christian harbor.


Cool Idea of the Day: 'Avid Bookshop Is Taking a Day Off'

In a note to friends of Avid Bookshop, Athens, Ga., owner Janet Geddis announced that the shop's booksellers will be getting a paid day off this Wednesday.

"For various reasons, we need a break," she wrote. "We'll be closed the day after Election Day. We invite you to take a day of rest, reflection, and relaxation with us. My deepest, most sincere hope is that on November 4th we will be exhaling a deep sigh of relief after having received news that forward-thinking, human-rights-oriented leadership, both locally and nationally, is coming.... We hope you have the privilege of being able join us in spirit, to take some time to put your feet up, go for a walk, disengage from social media, and feed your soul.

"What it means for us: Traditionally, Avid Bookshop is closed for business on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's Day. Since mid-March 2020, the shop floor has been closed to browsing, but we've stayed open as a business by serving you online and via phone. This will be first meaningful break we've had as a business since pre-Covid. We've been going nonstop and really need a dose of self-care.

"Thank you for respecting our decision to take a break; we'd love to hear from you about what you're doing to make sure you are taking care of yourself. Have a good book you picked up this year but haven't started yet? This might be a perfect time. Much love, and I mean that."


Consortium Adds Seven Publishers

Ingram's Consortium Book Sales & Distribution has added seven publishers for the Spring 2021 season. 1984 Publishing has already begun sales and distribution with Consortium; the others begin on January 4.

1984 Publishing specializes in art and gift books. Founder Matthew Chojnacki has more than 20 years of business experience and is the author of three art books and co-producer of several recent documentaries. New releases include Black & White & Weird All Over: The Lost Photographs of "Weird Al" Yankovic '83-'86  by Jon "Bermuda" Schwartz and Planet Wax: Sci-Fi/Fantasy Soundtracks on Vinyl by Aaron Lupton and Jeff Szpirglas.

Albatros Media is a Czech publishing house founded in 1949 that specializes in children's books. In 1964, Albatros--together with six other international publishers--co-founded the Bologna Children's Book Fair. Albatros has published more than 10,000 titles, in more than 50 languages and 40 countries. Titles for the spring season include Atlas of Dogs by Štĕpánka Sekaninová, illustrated by Marcel Králik, and Childhoods of Famous People by Petra Texlová, illustrated by Tomáš Tůma.

Black Ocean is a publisher of poetry and contemporary literature with headquarters in Boston, Mass., and satellites in Detroit, Mich., and Chicago, Ill. Subjects range from early silent films to early punk rock. It is committed to promoting artists it believes in by sharing its enthusiasm for their work with a global audience. Forthcoming titles include Fjords Vol 2 by Zachary Schomburg and Blackspace: On the Poetics of an Afrofuture by Anaïs Duplan.

Eye of Newt, Toronto, Ont., specializes in books--from children's books to lushly illustrated fantasy books for adults--that showcase artists and illustrators. Spring titles include Faeries of the Faultlines by Iris Compiet, The Little Mermaid by Ashly Lovett, Gwelf: The Survival Guide by Larry MacDougall, and the picture book Jonathan and the Giant Eagle by Danny Christopher.

Not a Cult, Los Angeles, Calif., was founded in 2016 and publishes poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and art books by leaders of community, esoteric thought, and social discourse. Its spring titles include Grocery List Poems by Rhiannon McGavin and a new edition of Priestess by Marcella Kroll.

OR Books, which embraces progressive change in politics, culture and how business is done, publishes one or two books a month, combining established authors with new discoveries. Its quick publishing cycle helps relevant books address topics in a timely way. Titles for the spring season include The Business Secrets of Drug Dealing: An Almost True Account and Hate Inc.: Why Today's Media Makes Us Despise One Another, both by Matt Taibbi; and Divining Desire: Focus Groups and the Culture of Consultation by Liza Featherstone.

Yoffy Press, Atlanta, Ga., publishes photography books. Its debut list with Consortium includes You Are Eternity, You Are the Mirror by Marcy Palmer and Dig: Unearthing Dinosaurs and Family Bonds by Sarah Wilson, among other titles.


Personnel Changes at Parallax Press; Verso Books

Elizabeth McKellar is joining Parallax Press as sales & marketing manager. McKellar, formerly with Lonely Planet and Berrett-Koehler, will be taking over sales duties from longtime Parallax sales director Heather Harrison, who is retiring at the end of the year.

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Julia Judge has been promoted to senior publicist at Verso Books.



Media and Movies

Media Heat: John Lithgow on Jimmy Kimmel Live

Today:
Jimmy Kimmel Live: John Lithgow, author of Trumpty Dumpty Wanted a Crown: Verses for a Despotic Age (Chronicle, $22.95, 9781797209463).

Late Late Show with James Corden: Pete Buttigieg, author of Trust: America's Best Chance (Liveright, $23.95, 9781631498770). He will also appear tomorrow on the View.


Movies: Funny Boy

A first look trailer has been released for Funny Boy, Deepa Mehta's adaptation of Shyam Selvadurai's 1994 novel. IndieWire reported that the film was acquired by Ava DuVernay's ARRAY earlier this month, and has been announced as Canada's official selection for Best International Feature Film for the 2021 Academy Awards.

Co-written by Mehta and Selvadurai, Funny Boy's cast includes Arush Nand, Brandon Ingram, Nimmi Harasgama, Ali Kazmi, Agam Darshi, Seema Biswas, Rehan Mudannayake, and Shivantha Wijesinha. The film is set for release on Netflix beginning December 10.

Mehta commented: "My mantra as a filmmaker has always been what one of the great filmmakers of all time, Luis Buñuel, said: 'When a film is particular, that's the very minute it becomes universal.' Funny Boy, set on the island of Sri Lanka in the middle of its long and bloody civil war, is also a film about the power of love. In many ways, Funny Boy reflects the times of divisiveness we are living in today, where the call for a just society, a call for humanity is what we are all striving for."

In a joint statement, DuVernay and ARRAY president Tilane Jones observed: "Deepa Mehta's Funny Boy builds upon the iconic filmmaker's provocative canon of work as a film that is beautiful to the eye and emotional for the heart. Her singular vision for adapting this bestselling novel invites film lovers to delve deep into themes of identity, acceptance and family, while she shares the majesty and turmoil of Sri Lanka during this particular time in history."


Books & Authors

Awards: World Fantasy, Goddard Social Justice Winners

The 2020 World Fantasy Awards were announced during the virtual World Fantasy Convention, held October 29-November 1. The winners are:

Novel: Queen of the Conquered by Kacen Callender (Orbit)
Novella: Silver in the Wood by Emily Tesh (Tor.com)
Short Fiction: "Read After Burning" by Maria Dahvana Headley (A People's Future of the United States)
Anthology: New Suns: Original Speculative Fiction by People of Color, edited by Nisi Shawl (Solaris)
Collection: Song for the Unraveling of the World: Stories by Brian Evenson (Coffee House Press)
Artist: Kathleen Jennings
Special Award--Professional: Ebony Elizabeth Thomas, for The Dark Fantastic: Race and the Imagination from Harry Potter to the Hunger Games (New York University Press)
Special Award--Non-Professional: Bodhisattva Chattopadhyay, Laura E. Goodin and Esko Suoranta, for Fafnir--Nordic Journal of Science Fiction and Fantasy Research

Lifetime Achievement Awards: Rowena Morrill and Karen Joy Fowler

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Abandoned: America's Lost Youth and the Crisis of Disconnection by Anne S. Kim (The New Press) has won the 2020 Goddard Riverside Stephan Russo Book Prize for Social Justice.

The organizers described Abandoned as "the story of young Americans 'disconnected from the mainstream of opportunity and disengaged from education and employment.' More than 10% of youth between the ages of 16 and 24 are neither in school nor working. 'For millions more, their hold on school and work is shaky at best,' Kim writes. Some emerge from foster care with no meaningful support system. Others grow up in communities besieged by poverty and mass incarceration, or are entangled with the justice system themselves.

"Kim profiles some of these young people and paints a stark picture of how we are failing them--and how this failure weakens us as a nation. She also explores solutions, reporting on how organizations around the country are connecting these young people to brighter futures."

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For Beautiful Black Boys Who Believe in a Better World by Michael W. Waters, illustrated by Keisha Morris (Flyaway Books) has won the first Goddard Riverside CBC Youth Book Prize for Social Justice, a companion prize to the Stephan Russo Prize, which is for nonfiction by adults.

Organizers called the winner of the new prize "the story of Jeremiah, a young man with a lot of questions about the violent deaths of Black people he's seeing in the news, and the actions people are taking in the street in response. His father doesn't have easy answers, but that doesn't mean he won't talk about it--or that he won't act. Inspired by real-life events, this beautiful picture book is an honest, intimate look at one family's response to racism and gun violence. The book includes a discussion and activity guide for parents and teachers to use with children written by the Muhammad Ali Center."


Book Review

Review: The Arctic Fury

The Arctic Fury by Greer Macallister (Sourcebooks Landmark, $16.99 paperback, 432p., 9781728215693, December 1, 2020)

In 1853 Boston, a wealthy Englishwoman, Lady Jane Franklin, secretly recruits experienced trail guide Virginia Reeve and a dozen other women for an all-female Arctic expedition. The women, with a variety of backgrounds and skills, aim to find--or find out the fate of--Lady Jane's husband, Sir John, who disappeared in the Arctic with his men. A year later, Virginia is back in Boston and standing trial for murder. In her gripping fourth novel, The Arctic Fury, Greer Macallister (Woman 99; Girl in Disguise) weaves together two timelines and multiple narrative strands, exploring what happened on the women's brief expedition, and why several of them did not come back.

Macallister tells her story chiefly from Virginia's point of view, bringing in her past experience as a trail guide in the American West and her complicated relationship with a fellow guide. But each of the women gets at least a chapter to tell her own story: artist Christabel, taciturn nurse Dove, officers' wives and dear friends Ebba and Althea, spoiled socialite Caprice (whose disappearance is the main impetus for Virginia's trial). Many of the women are surprised to be chosen for Franklin's expedition, and all have their own reasons for saying yes. Things start going wrong even before the group leaves Boston, and Virginia must muster all her tact and courage to lead her ill-assorted crew to the far north.

Through their varied experiences and often contentious interactions, Macallister examines sexism and racism in the pre-Civil War United States, and builds a compelling mosaic of a story. She also deftly uses their multiple viewpoints to call into question the notion of truth: what it really is, who gets to tell it, how it may be buried, elided or co-opted under tense circumstances. The courtroom scenes, dominated by decidedly unsympathetic white men, also force Virginia and her audience (both readers and witnesses) to consider what happened out there on the ice, and which parts of it matter.

The Arctic Fury is not for the faint of heart: at times Macallister thrusts her characters almost aggressively into hardship, peril and gruesome situations. It is not a clear-cut narrative of adventure, love or justice, although it contains the seeds of all those things. But it is certainly compelling. Readers who love historical fiction, strong women and unusual settings will find all three--as well as a couple of truly inventive twists--in Macallister's novel. --Katie Noah Gibson, blogger at Cakes, Tea and Dreams

Shelf Talker: Greer Macallister's compelling fourth novel follows an all-female Arctic expedition that ends in a murder trial.


Deeper Understanding

Panel Discussion: Comics Go to the Polls

The Mueller Report Illustrated: The Obstruction Investigation by the Washington Post, illustrated by Jan Feindt (Scribner, $20, 9781982149277)

Do you remember when we waited with bated breath for Special Counsel Robert Mueller to release his findings? The investigation seemed to have no end in sight and then one day, it wrapped. I woke up early that April morning to get a copy of the New York Times, where the redacted report was printed on the front page, anticipating that the little I knew about its contents would constitute a significant moment in American history. Now, after an impeachment, a botched pandemic response and countless ethics violations, I shake my head at my childlike assumption that its contents, incriminating as they are, would represent anything more than one drop in a deluge of scandal.

Drawn by German illustrator Jan Feindt and composed of the rigorous reporting of the Washington Post, The Mueller Report Illustrated translates a key part of Robert Mueller's findings into a graphic novel--the investigation into President Trump's obstruction. The Post's timeline begins with then-campaign surrogate Michael Flynn's call with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak after President Obama announced sanctions on Russia for its election interference. Assembled piece by piece, the Post's journalists track Trump's obstructive behavior with each tweet and as it manifests in his dinner with FBI Director Jim Comey and then his subsequent firing of Comey. In its reporting, The Mueller Report Illustrated reveals not just a pattern of obstructive behavior, but a president whose absolute need to be seen as the primary decision maker wreaks havoc on the efforts of those around him trying to protect him (see: the Lester Holt interview).

The Mueller Report Illustrated's palette of black, white and yellow serves to lay out Mueller's case in a lawyerly fashion, highlighting crucial details for readers. The graphic novel includes newspaper facsimiles and captures the body language of Trump and his cabinet officials with eerie accuracy. The Mueller Report Illustrated is a historical document, documenting in an accessible way many aspects of Trump's obstruction that weren't captured in the 24-hour news cycle.

How to Handsell: A peak into the machinery of a chaotic administration, The Mueller Report Illustrated outlines just one of many issues to bring to the polls,

Drawing the Vote: An Illustrated Guide to Voting in America by Tommy Jenkins, illustrated by Kati Lacker (Abrams ComicArts, $24.99, 9781419739989)

Tommy Jenkins, an associate professor of English at Louisburg College in Raleigh, N.C., was inspired to turn the history of voting rights into a graphic novel around the time of the 2016 election, when he registered a deep apathy among his students, many of whom contemplated not voting. He felt that if his students understood how complicated the fight for voting rights had been for many citizens, they might be more hesitant to give up their franchise. The result, Drawing the Vote: An Illustrated Guide to Voting in America, is a civics course that spans decades, designed explicitly to be digestible.

Jenkins and illustrator Kati Lacker outline the voting-related history readers already have a passing familiarity with: the Boston Tea Party, the Seneca Falls Convention, the fight for voting rights led by Martin Luther King. But, importantly, they also give focus to bits of history that may have fallen through the cracks for readers. Jenkins writes about the 10 former Confederate states that changed their state constitutions after the 15th Amendment, to ensure the continued disenfranchisement of Black men. Later, Jenkins describes how frankly the late Republican political strategist Lee Atwater outlined the party's opposition to voting rights as embodied in the Southern Strategy. Atwater, in a racist and profanity-laced explanation, calmly details how it no longer benefited the Republican Party to yell the N-word, so rather, the party platform was boiled down to abstractions like "forced busing, states' rights, and all that stuff." Jenkins lays out the myriad ways that the Shelby County v. Holder Supreme Court decision of 2013 gutted the Voting Rights Act of 1965 by eliminating the federal preclearance required for new voting laws and policies in certain areas with a long history of voter suppression. In Drawing the Vote, Tommy Jenkins and Kati Lacker give readers the history of voting rights that underscores the high stakes of going to the polls this election.

How to Handsell: A panoptic history of the vote that breaks down everything from gerrymandering to Americans for Prosperity's dark influence, Drawing the Vote is a great pick for both adults and young Americans who want to understand what it means to be a voter.

Okay, Universe: Chronicles of a Woman in Politics by Valérie Plante, illustrated by Delphie Côté-Lacroix (Drawn and Quarterly, $21.95, 9781770464117)

In the 2018 midterm elections, voters elected a record number of women to the House of Representatives. 2018 also saw record numbers of women running for Senate and gubernatorial seats. The same spirit that ignited the Women's March following the election of Donald Trump brought a new generation of candidates to politics on the local level. This spirit of grassroots activism is what inspires the heroine of Okay, Universe to enter the arena of Canadian politics when she is asked by a local progressive party to run for a seat on the Montreal City Council. Written by Montreal mayor Valérie Plante, who once occupied a similar council seat, Okay, Universe has echoes of autobiography, if not screams. But transforming Valérie Plante into everywoman Simone Simoneau has a powerful effect: highlighting the accessibility of community organizing for all who wish to get involved.

Illustrator Delphie Côté-Lacroix, whose art style is reminiscent of Over the Garden Wall or a Horace Pippin in pastels, draws profiles of the candidate and the volunteers who propelled her campaign to victory. Many chapters start with a frame that depicts a certain item that acts as a narrative motif: a bicycle helmet that comes to represent the many miles traversed by the candidate as she goes door-knocking or a bottle of hand sanitizer to represent the hundreds of hands shaken (rather than a dark portent of this year's pandemic). The most narratively satisfying sequences in Okay, Universe have no words at all and advance the story panel by panel and gesture by gesture, showing off Côté-Lacroix's talent for storytelling.

How to Handsell: An earnest and inspirational title with elegant illustrations for all who might wish to get involved in local politics (or read about getting involved in local politics).

--Emma Levy, Panel Discussion columnist and freelance writer

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