Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Algonquin Young Readers: the Beautiful Game by Yamile Saied Méndez

Berkley Books: Books that will sweep you off your feet! Enter Giveaway!

Feiwel & Friends: The Flicker by HE Edgmon

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers: The Pumpkin Princess and the Forever Night by Steven Banbury

St. Martin's Griffin: Murdle: The School of Mystery: 50 Seriously Sinister Logic Puzzles by GT Karber


Revisions: Books & Bar Coming to Baltimore, Md.

The future home of Revisions: Books & Bar (photo: Google)

Revisions: Books & Bar, a bookstore, bar and cafe, is coming to the Butcher's Hill area of Baltimore, Md., next spring, the Baltimore Business Journal reported.

Co-owners Andrew Weinzirl and Lina Bertinelli will open the store in a 3,120-square-foot building that was once home to an Irish pub called the Life of Reilly. The eventual plan is to have the bar area on the building's first floor, with a bookstore and lounge upstairs. They are currently remodeling the interior and hope to open in March.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, they'll likely start things off with takeout service and sidewalk sales. Other plans for offerings include book bundles and picnic packages featuring bottles of wine or to-go cocktails. Weinzirl told the BBJ that the bar will serve "American upscale pub food."

Weinzirl is an experienced local chef, most recently serving as executive chef for the Choptank in Broadway Market. Bertinelli, meanwhile, is a workforce librarian at the Enoch Pratt Free Library's central branch. Her plans for the bookstore inventory include highlighting books by people of color and by LGBT authors.

Blackstone Publishing: Rogue Community College: A Liberty House Novel by David R Slayton

Palabras Bilingual Bookstore Moving

Palabras's current location

Palabras Bilingual Bookstore, in Phoenix, Ariz., which sells used and new English- and Spanish-language titles, is moving out of its current space on December 23, Phoenix New Times reported. Owner Rosaura Magaña wrote in a Facebook post announcing the move that the store will be in the space by January 5. "This iteration of Palabras will have a beautiful home feeling, and we will also be joined by a friend starting her pastry business, Por Vida."

The store will remain open in its current location on McDowell Road until December 23. Magaña said that space and neighborhood will be dearly missed, but she and her team are "looking joyously towards a new year, with new possibilities in a new space."

Magaña also thanked the store's customers for their support over the last five years. "We ask you to please join us at our new location where we will continue to cultivate and promote cultural representation, equity, and liberation through community engagement utilizing literature, language, and the arts."

International Update: German Lockdown Eased for Some Bookshops, London Booksellers Face Tighter Restrictions

The hard lockdown that begins today in Germany and lasts until January 10 is being loosened in some parts of the country to allow bookstores to continue operating in various capacities, Börsenblatt reported. Already the states of Berlin, Brandenburg and Saxony-Anhalt will allow bookstores to open, while North Rhine-Westphalia will allow customers to pick up books from closed bookstores.

Alexander Skipis

In a statement to the book industry, Alexander Skipis, head of the Börsenverein, argued that while the lockdown is necessary, bookstores should not be closed, saying in part, "in the last shutdown and throughout the year, it's been shown that especially in times of crisis just how large demand is for the cultural work of the book and the essential role that bookstores play as the spiritual filling station for society."

Skipis noted that the association is continuing to work with federal and regional authorities to exempt bookstores from the hard lockdown, and that in areas where bookstores must close, it wants stores to be allowed to continue to make deliveries and offer contactless pickup services.

In anticipation of the lockdown, sales have boomed at German bookstores in the past week or two. Heinrich Rietmüller, head of the Osiander bookstore chain, which has more than 70 locations, told Börsenblatt that "in many places we're being stormed by our customers. You can see that books are needed and are being read. Especially in these times, there's clearly a growing need for literature."


Effective today, Greater London, along with parts of Essex and Hertfordshire, moved into Tier 3 level restrictions as a result of the sharp rise in Covid-19 cases, the Bookseller reported. Although non-essential retail, including bookshops, is still permitted to operate under Tier 3, health secretary Matt Hancock said that on the "very important" issue of Christmas shopping, Tier 3 meant minimizing travel trips within or to those areas.

A number of indies, however, still expressed confidence that customers will continue to shop local. "People come to the bookshop for a bookshop. We are very busy at the moment and I don't think it will affect us too much," said Dulwich Books owner Cathy Slater.

"It's not ideal but I don't think it will have a massive impact in terms of footfall," observed Andy Barr, owner of Belgravia Books. "I think the main issue is that people don't seem to understand what Tier 3 means. Many customers have been confused by what the difference is between Tier 3 and a full-on lockdown, and this could make some people assume the non-essential shops will be shut. That will have an impact."

Pavla Safratova, a bookseller at Goldsboro Books, noted: "We are not expecting high foot traffic here anyway. It has been really quiet for the last two weeks since the second lockdown. We have been lucky, though: the mail order business has kept us going."

Vivian Archer of Newham Bookshop agreed: "We've managed through two lockdowns. People, I think, will be very cautious. Central London will be a major problem. But I think people will still support and buy from their local bookshops.... We've actually outdone last year's figures. It's quite extraordinary--how much people have bought has been incredible."

Some booksellers expressed caution. Natalia de la Ossa, bookshop manager at the London Review Bookshop, said: "Sadly, I do think it will have an impact on sales. The cake shop will have to close to the public, hospitality around us as well, and the British Museum. It will mean a decline in footfall and make sales budgets pretty hard to achieve. I also think emotionally it is a very hard blow--we have seen such a wonderful surge in footfall which raised our hopes and morale. But we will reinforce that we can still fulfill orders online!"


Cărturești Carusel in Bucharest, Romania, shared a photo on Facebook of its holiday decorations, noting: "We are already hearing the rustle of Christmas gift wrapping, making lists, looking for information, trying to find out the secrets of our loved ones about what they would like to receive as a gift from Santa. It's an atypical year, but one where, maybe more than ever, we think about what matters to each other, to us, to the relationship we have and the way we can celebrate it."

Denver's BookBar Launches Publishing Company

Denver, Colo., bookstore BookBar has launched BookBar Press, whose first title, Bite Size: An Anthology of Micro Theatre, was released yesterday. Bite Size is a compilation of 10 short plays that resulted from the Denver Center for the Performing Arts' Off-Center competition that drew more than 200 submissions from Colorado playwrights. Five of the plays were performed in a three-week run in spaces around BookBar. The plays touch on topics such as social justice, prisoner rights, religious revelations and transgender experiences; the settings range from the Denver Public Library to a future dystopian Denver.

BookBar and BookBar Press owner Nicole Sullivan said, "We were so excited to be a part of the incredible Bite Size production, which truly highlighted so much of what the Colorado arts community has to offer. As an indie publisher, we also want to focus on our local community, so it made perfect sense to launch BookBar Press with Bite Size as our debut title."

The 10 plays included in Bite Size are A Pocket Full of Dandelions by Kristen Adele Calhoun; Holy Couch by Edith Weiss; Marginalia by Jeffrey Neuman; Outside the Room by Theatre Artibus, Grapefruit Lab and Larry Mitchell; Toxoplasmosis by Sean Michael Cummings; Something to Read at the End of the World by Maureen Biermann; The F Word by Claire Caviglia; The Missing Piece by Christina Miller and Addie Levinsky; The Side of the Room by Dakota Hill; and Malum by Ashley Rice.

The book also opens with poetry by Denver author, speaker and activist Theo E.J. Wilson, and includes forewords by director Meredith Grundei and DCPA Off-Center curator Charlie Miller. All royalties will be donated to Denver Center for the Performing Arts.

How Bookstores Are Coping: 'Masks Required, No Whining'; Online Support

In Park Rapids, Minn., Beagle and Wolf Books & Bindery was closed for just over seven weeks during the state's stay-at-home order, reported owner Sally Wizik Wills. Since reopening on May 20, the store has required masks for all customers and has been operating at a limited capacity. There are also plexiglass shields around the counters, social-distancing signs on the carpet, and new cleaning and sanitizing protocols for staff.

Wills noted that her store is in a popular vacation area, and since her county actually had zero confirmed cases of Covid until "relatively late," there were many visitors to the area. Despite that, sales were down "dramatically" over the summer, which Wills attributed to there being no in-person events.

She and her team have been "thrilled and humbled" by the number of friends and customers who have rallied around the store this year. During the stay-at-home order, people sent money to be put on their accounts, and let it "sit there for us to use." Online sales increased dramatically, with Wills noting that because the Park Rapids is a vacation area, many of her regular customers are "scattered across the country for much of the year."

During the pandemic, the store has started offering free local delivery, curbside service, subscriptions and personal shopping, and Wills anticipates that they'll continue to offer these things after life returns to normal. All four of the store's book groups are now meeting on Zoom, and the summer women's group has decided to continue meeting during the winter, thanks to Zoom.

The store required customers to wear masks roughly three months before the state issued a mask mandate. That has had unexpected consequences, given how politicized mask wearing has become in many places, but many of Wills's customers "keep telling us how grateful they are that we require masks, and that they feel safe in our store." She added that the store has a big sign on the front door saying: "Welcome! Masks Required. No Whining."

Beagle and Wolf has also been fortunate to receive a number of grants and loans, but, Wills continued, she and her staff are "tired," doing "more with fewer people, and we're wearing out." She'd like to hire, but it is proving very difficult to find candidates. The team has tried to keep a sense of humor, including the aforementioned front door sign.

When it came to ordering for the holidays, Wills and her team approached it cautiously. They brought in a lot of titles from the Midwest Independent Booksellers Association holiday catalog, and ordered heavily on A Promised Land by Barack Obama. They also brought in more sidelines, which is a category they cut back on during the summer.

Beagle and Wolf began encouraging customers to shop early in October; Wills said the ABA's material was "very helpful." November sales were up dramatically, and December has gotten off to a similar start. She had expected to see a lull between the early shoppers and the "perennial procrastinators," but there hasn't been one. The store's top sellers, along with A Promised Land, have included This Tender Land by William Kent Krueger and Intimations by Zadie Smith.


Danielle Hulton, owner of Ada's Technical Books & Cafe in Seattle, Wash., reported that her store is currently open Tuesdays through Sundays for limited hours and with a very limited capacity. No more than eight people are allowed in at a time, and she and her team permit 30 minutes of in-store shopping. All customers are required to wear masks and sanitize their hands before browsing. 

The cafe side of the business is offering food and coffee for takeout only, and the menu has been altered to focus on more takeout-friendly and heat-at-home items. Hulton added that the new handpies on the cafe menu have been a hit, and the cafe now has outdoor tables with a pop-up covering.

Hulton said she and her team have been loving the support they've seen in the form of online sales. Ada's has had an online store for 10 years, and this has been by far the bookstore's busiest holiday season in terms of online shopping. She hopes that high rates of online buying continue even after the pandemic ends.

Hulton said the store bought holiday titles much later in the year than normal, "because it honestly snuck up on us." The team also purchased less, and Hulton noted that though December has been busy, sales are still down. Some of the biggest sellers of the holiday season so far have been the coloring book F*** Off, Coronavirus, I'm Coloring by Dare You Stamp Co., An Illustrated Book of Bad Arguments by Ali Almossawi and Alejandro Giraldo, Hood Feminism by Mikki Kendall, Strange Planet by Nathan W. Pyle and The 99% Invisible City by Kurt Kohlstedt and Roman Mars. --Alex Mutter

Obituary Note: Elizabeth Newstat

Elizabeth Newstat, the longtime manager of Chevalier's Books in Los Angeles, Calif., has died.

"There is no way to describe Elizabeth Clare Newstat other than through literature," Newstat's colleagues wrote in a tribute over the weekend. "When Liz came to Chevalier's, she had more stories than any of the books on our shelves. Her taste was capricious and endless, and she filled the store in kind: provocative fiction, terrifying thrillers, discarded classics and the most beautifully illustrated kids books you've ever seen. She fought for the authors she believed in and every book she pressed into your hands would become your new favorite."

Newstat was a "force to be reckoned with whether she was behind the counter or shuffling along Larchmont Boulevard--most likely decked out in her favorite T-shirt emblazoned with Bartleby's 'I Would Prefer Not To.' What she did prefer was calamari, American Spirits cigarettes, sweetened iced lattes, white wine and brie, Karl Ove Knausgaard, her bookstore staff, her incredible son Orson--and when you'd put on Otis Redding we'd be damned if she didn't start dancing around the store."

Every book on Chevalier's shelves was "handpicked by Liz, a Los Angeles icon who knew even better than you did what you should be reading (even if it wasn't what you wanted). She wanted everyone to do more, ask more, be more, love more. And, most of all, read more."

G.L.O.W. - Galley Love of the Week
Be the first to have an advance copy!
A Forty Year Kiss
by Nickolas Butler
GLOW: A Forty Year Kiss by Nickolas Butler

A Forty Year Kiss by Nickolas Butler is a passionate, emotionally complex love story that probes tender places within the heart and soul. When 60-somethings Charlie and Vivian--married then divorced in their 20s--reunite after four decades, they are swept up by the very best of what their romantic relationship once offered. "Anyone who has ever thought about what might have been will find this book fascinating," says Shana Drehs, senior editorial director at Sourcebooks Landmark. "The story is a brilliant exploration of a second chance at love, always realistic but never saccharine." As Charlie and Vivian build a bridge from past to present, their enduring love paving over potholes, Butler (Shotgun Lovesongs) raises questions about how life changes people--or does it?--and delivers another heartening, unforgettable novel. --Kathleen Gerard, blogger at Reading Between the Lines

(Sourcebooks Landmark, $27.99 Hardcover, 9781464221248, 
February 4, 2025)


Shelf vetted, publisher supported


'Perhaps Now January Is the New December?'

Best Twitter thread of the day happened yesterday between Cambridge, Mass., booksellers Porter Square Books and Harvard Book Store, which had just introduced an XMASCANWAIT promotion in its e-mail newsletter with the headline: "Perhaps Now January Is the New December?":

@PorterSqBooks: "We know a good idea when we see one and @HarvardBooks had a great idea. Don't need your books until after Xmas? Use the coupon AFTERXMAS20 to get 10% off & we'll process your order after the holiday season."

@HarvardBooks: "Good booksellers borrow, great booksellers steal. And by steal we mean politely send us a DM asking if it's cool to do something similar and we're like of course we love praise!"

@PorterSqBooks: "Imagine being in an industry that's like 'Oh this idea would help a lot of other people too... I MUST TELL NO ONE!' "

@HarvardBooks: "Truly unimaginable."

Bookseller Moment: 'Peaceful Bookstore at Night'

"Peaceful bookstore at night!" the New Atlantic Independent Booksellers Association noted in sharing a photo posted on Facebook by the Dog Eared Book, Palmyra, N.Y. ("Good night little bookshop"), adding: "We know you are all working hard making sure people get the books they want, or, if they can't come in, books that are just as good. Keep up the good work, booksellers! We salute you."

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Ijeoma Oluo on Here & Now

NPR's Here & Now: Ijeoma Oluo, author of Mediocre: The Dangerous Legacy of White Male America (Seal Press, $28, 9781580059510).

Good Morning America: Claire Saffitz, author of Dessert Person: Recipes and Guidance for Baking with Confidence (Clarkson Potter, $35, 9781984826961).

Drew Barrymore Show: Natalie Portman, co-author of Natalie Portman's Fables (Feiwel & Friends, $19.99, 9781250246868).

TV: The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle

Stuart Turton's Costa Award-winning debut novel, The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle, will be adapted as a seven-part series for Netflix UK. Sourcebooks published the U.S. edition, The 7 ½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle, in 2018. The series is created and written by Sophie Petzal and produced by House Productions.

"I'm so excited to have the chance to bring Stuart's exhilarating, original and mind-bending novel to life on Netflix," said Petzal. "From the moment I read the book, I knew it could make the most extraordinary television series and I'm so grateful to be a part of the incredible team setting out on this journey."

Turton added: "I'm absolutely delighted that The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle is coming to the screen, and wish to offer my apologies to the wonderfully talented Sophie Petzal--who has the mind-destroying job of adapting it. When I set out to write a time-travelling, body-hopping, murder mystery novel, I never imagined it would end up on the telly, and I can't wait to see how it unfolds."

Books & Authors

Awards: Aussie Prime Minister's Literary Winners

Winners were announced for the 2020 Prime Minister's Literary Awards, which "encourage a national appreciation of Australian literature and support increased understanding of Australian history." The honorees were named by Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Paul Fletcher, minister for communications, cyber safety and the arts. This year's winners are:

Fiction: The Yield by Tara June Winch
Nonfiction (joint winners): Songspirals: sharing women's wisdom of Country through songlines by the Gay'wu Group of Women; Sea People: The Puzzle of Polynesia by Christina Thompson
Poetry: The Lost Arabs by Omar Sakr
Children's literature: Cooee Mittigar: A Story on Darug Songlines by Jasmine Seymour, illustrated by Leanne Mulgo Watson
YA literature: How It Feels to Float by Helena Fox
Australian history: Meeting the Waylo: Aboriginal Encounters in the Archipelago by Tiffany Shellam

Reading with... Leslie Brody

photo: Emily Tucker

Leslie Brody is an author and professor of English and Creative Writing at the University of Redlands in California. Her books include Irrepressible: The Life and Times of Jessica Mitford, and the memoir Red Star Sister, which won a PEN USA Creative Nonfiction Award. Her latest book is Sometimes You Have to Lie: The Life and Times of Louise Fitzhugh, Renegade Author of Harriet the Spy, available now from Seal Press/Hachette.

On your nightstand now:

Anne Moody's Coming of Age in Mississippi, Emma Goldman's Living My Life, A Chill in the Air by Iris Origo. I am writing this in the midst of the pandemic in October 2020, in California where wildfires rage and where the chill in the air portends a frazzling democracy. The nonfiction books I'm reading are about resisting fascism. I admire Moody and Goldman for their great minds and courage under stress. Also, in the pile are novels by authors known for charm and wit and a touch of malice, Loitering with Intent by Muriel Spark, The Offshore by Penelope Fitzgerald and I'll Be Leaving You Always by Sandra Scoppettone.

Favorite books when you were a child:

Book of Nonsense by Edward Lear, Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll and The Red Fairy Book from the Andrew Lang collected fairy tales series. I particularly loved the story of the 12 Dancing Princesses, which ends "Nous n'irons plus au bois, Les lauriers sont coupes." This list makes me sound like a little Victorian. Perhaps I wished to be--but by 10 or 11, I was tearing through the complete works of Edgar Rice Burroughs.

Your top five (seven) authors:

Muriel Spark, Jane Austen, Dorothy Sayers, Paule Marshall, Virginia Woolf, Henry James, Shakespeare.

Book you've faked reading:

Moby-Dick. When I was younger, I hated the idea of books that were primarily about manly occupations, and/or hunting wild animals. If in a book I was reading, there was an elephant or a whale anywhere within the vicinity of a human I'd have a conniption fit. I much preferred books about animals that talked, and I haven't changed much, really. I confess I've gone to great lengths to avoid reading Moby-Dick. For instance, while studying for my Ph.D., instead of doing 19th-century American literature, I read world lit and discovered many wonderful Caribbean authors like Derek Walcott, Jamaica Kincaid and Jean Rhys. So, thank you, Herman Melville. By the way, I understand it's great.

Book you're an evangelist for:

Footsteps: Adventures of a Romantic Biographer by Richard Holmes. Holmes takes similar journeys to those of several 19th-century travelers, writers and thinkers like Robert Louis Stevenson and Mary Wollstonecraft; writing of their stories as his own unfold. I can't think of a better book than Footsteps for capturing youth and early ardent devotion in both author and (multiple) subjects. I love the way Holmes comes to recognize how submerged he is in his work when one day he dates a check 1772, instead of 1972. Also, The Norton Book of Women's Lives by Phyllis Rose and On Writing Well by William Zinsser.

Book you've bought for the cover:

Spring Fire by Vin Packer (Marijane Meaker). I have a fondness for 1950s pulp design. The original cover of Spring Fire, published in 1952, shows two sorority girls dressed in lingerie. The blonde in a black slip looks off into the distance, while the brunette with her modest, downturned eyes wears red. An orangey-red background matches the lipstick on both girls' pillowy lips. Under the title, crawling in black Courier font across one nude shoulder are the words: "A story once told in whispers/ Now, frankly, honestly written."

Book you hid from your parents:

We were a reading family. My mother died when I was 14, and my father worked long days to keep body and soul together, so he left me quite alone to develop my independent reading habits. I did once get chided by my aunt who told me that I was too young to read her copy of Valley of the Dolls, the sensational melodrama by Jacqueline Susann. Of course, I read it anyway. I vaguely remember mentions of booze, pills and some '60s sexy talk, but what stayed with me was the breathless page-turning style. I've always been fascinated by page turners.

Books that changed your life:

Hons and Rebels by Jessica Mitford; Pride and Prejudice by you know who; Collected Poems of William Butler Yeats; Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston; La Vagabonde by Colette; The Oblivion Seekers and Other Stories by Isabelle Eberhardt; Death of the Heart by Elizabeth Bowen; Slouching Towards Bethlehem by Joan Didion; Sylvia Plath's Ariel; The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing; The Diaries of Anaïs Nin; Brown Girl, Brownstones by Paule Marshall; The Autobiography of Malcolm X; Gravity's Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon. Maybe you can tell I'm a child of the Sixties?

Favorite lines from books:

"But the effect of her being on those around her was incalculably diffusive: for the growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts; and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs." From Middlemarch by George Eliot


"I refuse, I absolutely refuse to be an onion." From Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh

Five (six) books you'll never part with:

I love these books for different reasons. They've all delighted me in style and content. And when I return to them, I always find something new.

Voltaire in Love by Nancy Mitford
Daisy Bates in the Desert by Julia Blackburn
By Night in Chile by Roberto Bolaño
Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
The Woman Warrior by Maxine Hong Kingston
The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas by Gertrude Stein

Book Review

Children's Review: Too Small Tola

Too Small Tola by Atinuke, illus. by Onyinye Iwu (Candlewick Press , $15.99 hardcover, 96p., ages 7-9, 9781536211276, March 2, 2021)

Tola, a young girl who lives in Lagos, Nigeria, with her Grandmommy, brother and sister, shares what her life is like in this #OwnVoices early chapter book. Atinuke (Anna Hibiscus series; Catch that Chicken!) uses wit and exactly the right amount of light-heartedness to bring each character in Too Small Tola to exuberant life.

In the titular first chapter, Atinuke introduces Tola as the smallest member of her family (thus the nickname "Too Small Tola"). When Tola goes shopping with Grandmommy, who "is not much taller than her," she watches the woman carry heavy items despite her small stature, and remembers that "Grandmommy can pound enough yams to feed a gathering of the Neighborhood Association." This inspires Tola and, even when she feels the weight of their purchases, she is determined to help Grandmommy carry home the groceries. In this way, Tola learns that although she is small, she is also very strong. In fact, she is "Small but Mighty," the title of the second chapter, in which a boy bullies Tola and others in the neighborhood. Tola stands up for herself and, showing her gentle heart and loving nature, encourages others to stand up as well. In "Easter and Eid," the last chapter, Tola expresses her concern for Mr. Abdul, the tailor. An accident has left him unable to measure his clients for their custom-made Eid ceremonial garments. Tola thinks ahead to what the family's hardships may be if they aren't able to provide for themselves and comes up with a plan to help.

Atinuke's use of Nigerian words throughout, accompanied by Onyinye Iwu's illustrations, immerse readers in Nigerian culture. The grayscale illustrations are stylized with realistic elements: characters wear traditional African garments such as wrap-around skirts, head scarves and dashikis and have natural hairstyles--braids, puffs and afros. Iwu's focus on expressive faces and body language adds realism to the work, as does her attention to setting, showing cracks in walls, laundry drying on banisters, children playing soccer in the street. Atinuke uses child-friendly, entertaining dialogue and incorporates accessible themes such as bullying and helping others in need. Her inclusion of rounded and well-developed secondary characters also helps Tola recognize that strength might not necessarily come from the muscles, but the heart. --Kharissa Kenner, children's librarian, Bank Street School for Children

Shelf Talker: A thoughtful trip of stories about a Nigerian girl named Tola who discovers that even though she is small, she is mighty.  

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