Shelf Awareness for Friday, June 4, 2021


Workman Publishing: How Magicians Think: Misdirection, Deception, and Why Magic Matters by Joshua Jay

Atheneum Books: Out of My Heart by Sharon M Draper

Bloomsbury Publishing: Piranesi by Susanna Clarke

Blackstone Publishing: I Am Not Who You Think I Am by Eric Rickstad

Scholastic Press: Room to Dream (a Front Desk Novel) by Kelly Yang

Andrews McMeel Publishing: A Tale as Tall as Jacob: Misadventures with My Brother by Samantha Edwards

David Zwirner Books: Making a Great Exhibition by Doro Globus, illustrated by Rose Blake

Tor Books: To Sleep in a Sea of Stars by Christopher Paolini

Quotation of the Day

'One Year Ago, in the Middle of a Pandemic, We Quietly Opened'

"Well friends, we did it. Today is our First Birthday. One year ago, in the middle of a Pandemic, we quietly opened for browsing--a far cry from the grand opening I had planned. In fact, on the surface, there wasn't much grand about that day at all. I remember sitting in the store full of questions. Would people be comfortable coming to shop with us? Should I even be opening? Was there something I was forgetting? Surely there was. I could go on and on about the list of worries that ran through my head.

"And then in the simplest of ways, slowly but surely, you all started to come by and the conversations began. Oh so many wonderful conversations! Looking back on those early days, I'm almost embarrassed at how much I had yet to learn about owning a bookstore. But there you were, cheering me on with your kind words and pep talks. Thank you barely covers it but I'll say it anyway--thank you for all of your support over the past 12 months!" 

--Renee Cunningham, owner of Oliver & Friends Bookshop and Reading Room, Belgrade, Maine, in a Facebook post yesterday

G.P. Putnam's Sons: Still Life by Sarah Winman


News

Harry Potter Flagship Store Opens in NYC

Harry Potter New York, the flagship store offering "the largest collection of Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts products under one roof," opened yesterday in Manhattan at 935 Broadway, next to the Flatiron Building. The launch had been delayed for a year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

"Wearing Hogwarts robes and witches' hats, hundreds of Potterheads sipped Butterbeer and posed for photos in Hagrid's giant shoes," AFP reported (via France24), adding that "fans of the boy wizard queued for hours in heavy rain to be among the first inside the three-story shop... Large crowds gathered outside the store throughout the morning, with even a few police officers called to ensure order was maintained, as Potterheads waited for their timed ticket entry."

Inspired by J.K. Rowling's bestselling books and subsequent film adaptations, the store offers 15 different themed areas, exclusive products and interactive elements. Wizarding World noted that Harry Potter New York "even plans to delve into the realms of virtual reality, with special immersive experiences set to be introduced to the store later in the summer." 

"Whether the Harry Potter fan who has 'everything' is looking for something new, or someone just wants to come in and browse and soak up the ambiance--there is something for everyone," said Doran Finneran, the sales and experience manager for the store.

Karl Durrant, v-p and general manager of Warner Bros. Worldwide Retail Destinations, added: "Around 80% of the product in this store is very, very limited in distribution--and of that 80%, 20% is completely exclusive for New York."


Parallax Press: How to Live When a Loved One Dies: Healing Meditations for Grief and Loss by Thich Nhat Hanh


International Update: Booksellers 'Hitting a Plateau' in U.K., Quarto COO Retiring

The Booksellers Association of the U.K. & Ireland said bookshops are hitting a plateau in the number of customers visiting stores in recent weeks, though they also reported "a broadly positive trading experience, with sales largely unaffected," the Bookseller wrote.

BA managing director Meryl Halls said: "When bookshops reopened in April, we knew that quieter high streets and decreased footfall would mean a challenging period ahead for booksellers, particularly those in city centers. After a strong spike in sales upon reopening, as the public revisited their favorite bookshops, we have seen a drop off in customer numbers over the past weeks, which seems to mirror the wider experience across the retail landscape. However, we are hearing consistently of lower footfall being, happily, offset by bigger basket sizes, which proves the point about bookshop customers' inherent loyalty."  

Richard Drake, owner of Drake--The Bookshop in Stockton-on-Tees, said: "We seem to be slightly up on 2019 for April and May. Footfall is funny, some days it seems to be quiet yet we take a lot, there are lots of people and takings are lower, ever was the case in retail, I guess. We are still seeing fewer children and families in the shop, but children's books are still being bought in number. It will be interesting to see how next week fairs with half term here."
 
Noting that business had been "very up and down" since reopening, Debbie Philips, deputy manager of Imagined Things in Harrogate, observed: "There's no telling what is going to make one day busy and the next quiet. Whereas we used to know that specific days or good weather or bad weather would effect footfall, there now doesn't seem to be any rhyme or reason to it."

Mog Giacomelli-Harris, co-owner of Warwick Books in Warwick added: "Everything feels calm and steady. We've had more time to catch up with customers, it's been a chatty and sociable month.... We're missing in-person events, we've made the executive decision to wait to host them, and it's been a year of not having [in-person] book fairs and BA events, so it's still doesn't feel like we're back into the normal bookselling groove yet. We will get there."

---

Ken Fund

Effective December 1, Quarto COO Ken Fund will retire after 22 years at the company, stepping down from the board as well, the Bookseller reported. Fund joined Quarto in 1999 as president and CEO of subsidiary Rockport Publishers before heading the company's U.S. division for many years. He was appointed group COO in 2016 and joined the board as an executive director in 2018.

"Being a part of Quarto for the past 22 years has been a wild adventure that I have enjoyed completely," he said. "This is the right time to retire as Quarto is in good hands and has a strong future. I want to acknowledge all of Quarto's talented colleagues; they are what makes Quarto a special company."

Chairman Andy Cumming added that Fund "has had a distinguished career and has made an outstanding contribution to the success of Quarto over many years. He leaves the board with our warmest best wishes for the future."

Group CEO Polly Powell commented: "Ken is a much-respected member of the publishing community and I have greatly appreciated working alongside him for the last 18 months. His wisdom and knowledge of illustrated book publishing is second to none, and his extensive contribution to the evolution of the Quarto Group cannot be underestimated."

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Brazil celebrates Valentine's Day on June 12, and Livraria Cultura posted on Facebook: "Love is in the air there on our endless bookshelf at Fortaleza store. The sweetest and most visited corner is in a Valentine's Day mood. Who here has already taken a picture there? Who took it, tag us! And follow @livraria_cultura_fortaleza on instagram! Now you won't forget that the 12th is Valentine's Day and your love deserves a book as a gift! We have an amazing selection!" --Robert Gray


American Booksellers Association: ABA Children's Institute, August 30 - September 1! Register today!


Kindred Stories, Houston, Tex., Debuts as Online Shop

Kindred Stories pop-up at a local coffee shop.

Kindred Stories, an all-ages bookstore specializing in Black authors and stories, has debuted as an online bookstore and is eyeing an end-of-summer opening for a bricks-and-mortar location, the Leader reported.

Owner Terri Hamm founded the online bookstore in February. A resident of the Houston Heights neighborhood, Hamm plans to open the bricks-and-mortar store in Houston's Third Ward, a neighborhood that has not had as much access to books or bookstores.

Along with selling books online, Hamm has been setting up Kindred Stories pop-up locations at coffee shops and at the Buffalo Soldiers National Museum, and she's already started working with local schools. She hopes to expand those community partnerships by working with nonprofit organizations. Kindred Stories is also hosting virtual events, including a recent one with Michelle Williams of Destiny's Child fame.

Hamm told the Leader that starting a bookstore of her own grew out of her efforts trying to find books for her daughter that featured Black characters and were written by Black authors. "I wanted a way for her and for other people to be able to explore multiple genres in Black literature. And I realized that there was not a space for that in Houston."


Rebel Girls: Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls: 100 Real-Life Tales of Black Girl Magic, 4 edited by Lilly Workneh


Obituary Note: Joseph A. Runfola

Joseph Runfola

Joseph A. Runfola, who owned and operated Staten Island's Clove Lake Book Store for more than 40 years, died last Sunday at the age of 82, SI Live reported. The cause of death was complications due to Covid-19.

A lifelong resident of Staten Island, Runfola opened Clove Lake Book Store in 1969 with his wife, Gabrielle. The store actually began in the basement of Clove Lake Pharmacy, which was opened by Runfola's parents.

Eventually the bookstore grew to take over the building, and in addition to trade books for all ages, the store sold school and office supplies as well as college textbooks. It was considered "one of a kind" in the area. Runfola and his wife ran the store for decades, until they closed it permanently in 2012.


Unbound: This Party's Dead: Grief, Joy and Spilled Rum at the World's Death Festivals by Erica Buist


Notes

Reading Group Choices' Most Popular May Books

The two most popular books in May at Reading Group Choices were The Glorious Guinness Girls by Emily Hourican (Grand Central) and Tears We Cannot Stop: A Sermon to White America by Michael Eric Dyson (St. Martin's Griffin).


Personnel Changes at Penguin Random House Audio

At Penguin Random House Audio:

Brisa Robinson has joined PRH Audio as senior publicity manager, working with Penguin Publishing Group titles. She was previously with WNYC and Macmillan Audio.

Lizbeth Gutierrez has joined PRH Audio as Senior Publicist, working with Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group titles. She previously worked in PR for the anime streaming platform Crunchyroll.



Media and Movies

Movies: Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain

 

A trailer has been released for the documentary Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain. Food & Wine reported that the movie about the world-renowned chef, author and travel documentarian "includes behind-the-scenes clips from Bourdain's various shows, as well as interviews with friends and colleagues, including Eric Ripert and David Chang. Bourdain, who died by suicide at age 61 in 2018, first rose to stardom with the breakout hit of his 2000 culinary memoir, Kitchen Confidential."

Directed by Oscar-winning filmmaker Morgan Neville (20 Feet from Stardom, Won’t You Be My Neighbor?), Roadrunner hits theaters July 16.


TV: The Days of Abandonment

Mary-Louise Parker has joined the cast of HBO Films production The Days of Abandonment, based on Elena Ferrante's novel. Variety reported that the project, which is in pre-production, stars Natalie Portman as Tess and will be written, directed and executive produced by Maggie Betts (Novitiate). 

Parker plays an unnamed character who in the casting announcement is called "Mysterious Woman--a mesmerizing but elusive woman Tess starts encountering everywhere she goes, causing Tess to question her sanity."


Books & Authors

Awards: Governor General's Literary & IndieReader Discovery Winners, Desmond Elliott Shortlist

The Canada Council for the Arts revealed the 2020 winners of the Governor General's Literary Awards, which had been delayed because of the Covid-19 pandemic. The regular GGBooks schedule will resume with the 2021 finalists and winners being announced this fall. Check out the complete list of English- and French-language winners here

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The winners of the IndieReader Discovery Awards, sponsored by IndieReader, have been announced virtually. Winners in the many categories can be seen here, and winners' acceptance speeches can be seen here. The winners of the fiction and nonfiction categories are:

Fiction:
First place: L'Origine by Lilianne Milgrom
Second place: The Hiding Girl by Dorian Box
Third place: Roseneath by Dana McSwain

Nonfiction:
First place: Outside Looking In by Vivian M. Lumbard
Second place: CO Specs: Recipes & Histories of Classic Cocktails by Cas Oh
Third place: When Force Meets Fate by Jamison Hill

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A shortlist has been announced for the £10,000 (about $14,195) Desmond Elliott Prize, which honors a debut novel written in English and published in the U.K. and Ireland. This year's shortlisted titles are:

The Manningtree Witches by A.K. Blakemore
little scratch by Rebecca Watson
The Liar's Dictionary by Eley Williams

In addition, I.R. Franklin, Charlotte Geater and James Wilke were shortlisted for the University of East Anglia's £4,000 (about $5,680) New Forms Award, for an innovative and daring new voice in fiction; and Farah Baksh, Harminder Kaur and Annie Walmsley were shortlisted for the £4,000 Laura Kinsella Fellowship, recognizing an exceptional writer who has experienced limiting circumstances. All three winners will be revealed July 1.


Reading with... Francisco Goldman

photo: Pia Elizondo

Francisco Goldman is the author of Monkey Boy (Grove, May 4, 2021), in which he traces a life, not unlike his own, over a five-day journey from New York to Boston. He lives in Mexico City with his wife and their daughter, who just turned three. Monkey Boy is Goldman's first novel since Say Her Name (winner of 2011 Prix Femina Étranger), which was followed by the memoir The Interior Circuit (2017 Blue Metropolis Premio Azul). In 2020, a documentary based on his nonfiction book The Art of Political Murder aired on HBO. Goldman has written regularly for the New Yorker.

On your nightstand now:

Sharing my nightstand with One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish, Goodnight Moon and Madeline are Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison (rereading for first time since around college, wrenching and thrilling); two novels by good friends: Poeta Chileno, acclaimed as an instant classic by Spanish-language critics, which is by my next-door neighbor Alejandro Zambra, and Radius, by the astonishing Rebecca Brian; and The Passion According to G.H., by Clarice Lispector, Idra Novey's translation.

Favorite book when you were a child:

Oh my, so many; of course, there were stages, that warm yellow shade of happiness I still associate with Babar and Curious George. I still vividly remember, in first grade, Miss Hogarth reading out loud from Charlotte's Web and ecstatically floating up out of my seat and over my classmates' heads to the front row to be closer to her and to the book in her hands, the first time I'd ever had such a reaction to literature. By fourth grade I was big into Landmark History books and especially books about football, of which Pro Quarterback by the great Y.A. Tittle, co-written with Howard Liss, was my favorite by far. This book, as any reader of Monkey Boy will get, really hit home. When I was 12, Aunt Lee gave me The Hobbit, and I fell in love, and soon after ran away to join the Fellowship of the Ring.

Your top five authors:

Chekhov, Tolstoy, Natalia Ginzburg, Toni Morrison, Roberto Bolaño. At different times in my life that list has been comprised of different writers, but Tolstoy and Chekhov are constants.

Book you've faked reading:

This is incredibly embarrassing for any writer with Guatemalan roots to admit, but I've never read El Señor Presidente, the most famous novel by our 1967 Nobel Prize for Lit winner, Miguel Ángel Asturias. I've tried a few times, in English and Spanish, yet always abandoned it, I don't even know why, I didn't dislike it. There's a new commemorative edition out, and I'm going to read it soon, I promise.

Book you're an evangelist for:

Isaac Babel's Red Cavalry Stories. A fervent young Bolshevik and Jew, Isaac Babel rode as a war correspondent with the Red Cavalry into Poland. What he witnessed was barbarous cruelty, cynicism, violence, much as if directed against Polish Jewish peasants. Six years later he published these beautiful and terse short stories that devastate, shock, break your heart. It made Babel famous and, 15 years later, Stalin had him killed. In its old pale-green Penguin edition, this book was my companion for years. Now you can read it in The Complete Works

Book you've bought for the cover:

Little Green Donkey by Anuska Allepuz, who also did the charming cover and illustrations.  We're really into burros in our house. I saw it displayed in a children's store in NYC when I flew up for my vaccine shot, and bought it on sight.

Book you hid from your parents:

The Landmark Books edition of The Rise and Fall of Adolf Hitler, an abridged version for young readers of the William Shirer tome. The first time I brought it back from our Massachusetts town's library, my mother returned it; I checked it out again, hid it in my room, and my darling Mamita found it and took it back again. She was Catholic, and from Guatemala, and she must have thought she could shield me from finding out about Hitler, etc.

Book that changed your life:

Mario Vargas Llosa's 667-page doctoral thesis, published in 1971, Historia de un deicidio, in which he takes apart and studies Gabriel García Márquez's One Hundred Years of Solitude like a giant intricate clock, along with everything else written by and then known about the still fairly young GGM, as if he needed to make sense for himself of that book's genius. I read it in about 1984, when I couldn't have needed it more. I'd been living in Guatemala during the war years, doing freelance journalism in Central America while trying to start my own first novel. The parts about writing fiction in response to violence, terror, horrific injustice without becoming bogged down in sorrow, anger, political exigencies, etc., incorporating such darkness into a still somehow life-affirming vision, showed me the way forward, too. Vargas Llosa and Gabo had a legendary falling out, and the book has long been out of print, but I just read a new Spanish edition is coming out in July.

Favorite line from a book:

I think I'll go with this one, from Bolaños's The Savage Detectives: "The same thing happened to them that almost always happens to the best Latin American writers or the best of the writers born in the Fifties: the trinity of youth, love, and death was revealed to them, like an epiphany." That final clause hits home.

Five books you'll never part with:

Well, that old copy of Historia de un deicidio, badly in need of rebinding. Bolaño's 2666, in the gray Anagrama edition, which I read while on my honeymoon with my late wife, Aura. The New Black by Darian Leader, the book that most helped me through my own years of traumatic grief; densely marked-up, I drunkenly left it behind in a cab one night; bought a new copy, marked that one up nearly as much.

After my father died, my close friend Gonzalo gave me a signed copy of a boxed edition of his father's memoir, Vivir para contarla (Living to Tell the Tale in its English version). Gabo signed it: "con un abrazo de otró que también escribe" ("with a hug from another who also writes"). Two-volume edition of Nicanor Parra's Obras Completas, signed to Jovi and me by don Nicanor himself.

When I was doing research in Cuba on José Martífor The Divine Husband, I picked up some books nearly impossible to find anywhere else, including Destinatario Martí, a collection of letters written to Martí; the book was the work of an elderly electrician, Luis García Pascual, who'd devoted decades of his life to compiling it in his spare time, and we became friends; I brought an extra copy back and donated it to the New York Public Library.

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

Those transporting adult-versions of the Charlotte's Web experience are rarer than I wish. Most recent epic one: Elena Ferrante's Neapolitan Quartet. But the one I'd most like to relive is War and Peace. I was in my early 20s, and I'd holed up in mid-winter in a boarding house in Oak Bluffs, Martha's Vineyard, intending to write a short story or two, but all I did was read that novel, and it so took me over that Natasha used to come to me in my dreams. That was Penguin's two-volume Rosemary Edmonds translation; this time I'll read the Pevear and Volokhonsky translation, already waiting on a shelf.


Book Review

Review: The Woman from Uruguay

The Woman from Uruguay by Pedro Mairal, trans. by Jennifer Croft (Bloomsbury, $24 hardcover, 160p., 9781635577334, July 20, 2021)

Pedro Mairal's The Woman from Uruguay follows a contemporary Argentine writer named Lucas for a single fateful Tuesday, as he travels from Buenos Aires to Montevideo and back again. Lucas narrates these events, with flashes forward and back in time, in a lengthy direct address to his wife, Catalina. "You told me I talked in my sleep. That's the first thing I remember." He is stumbling, if not entirely failing, as a writer, in debt to nearly everyone he knows, and fairly sure that Catalina is cheating on him. The purpose of the day trip to Uruguay is ostensibly to collect a significant sum of money in cash (advances on two books), which Lucas expects will change his fortunes. His hidden, secondary purpose is to visit the titular woman with whom Lucas has been captivated since they met at a writers' festival months earlier. He calls her Guerra--war--and is obsessed by their so-far-unconsummated affair.

Lucas is not an entirely likable narrator. He is self-pitying, a bit sleazy in his adulterous aspirations and at best a mediocre husband and father. He resents his wife for her ability to support him financially, and his young son for disrupting his work ("How am I supposed to write with my kid dangling from my balls?"). But readers will be drawn in by the mysterious Guerra and the pathetic and darkly comic narrative of Lucas's unlucky day. He can be woefully misguided by desire (for Guerra, for escape from responsibility), artful in his telling (Lucas is a writer, after all), wry, clever and even wise. In buying a ukulele for his son: "I realized I'd rather play the ukulele well than keep playing the guitar poorly, and that was like a new personal philosophy. If you can't handle life, try a lifelet." The translation from Spanish to English by Jennifer Croft (Homesick) handles such moods and idiosyncrasies perfectly. Lucas's child is a "tiny little elderly man, that haiku of a person," "a drunken dwarf." Readers may not be precisely rooting for Lucas to get what he wants (which is a bit unclear even to Lucas), but they will certainly be eager to find out what happens next.

In just 17 hours, this luckless protagonist experiences great hopes and severe losses, navigating both a marital crisis and an existential one with limited grace but great ardor and intensity. Challenged in love, marriage, parenthood, finances and fantasy, he makes a mess but comes away with a story to tell and, for a writer, there are worse endings. "May death be to know all," he muses in hindsight. "For now, I can only imagine." --Julia Kastner, librarian and blogger at pagesofjulia

Shelf Talker: Part picaresque, part tragedy, this critical day in the life of a hapless Argentine writer and would-be lover is both entertaining and thought-provoking.


Deeper Understanding

Robert Gray: 'Alexa, Open the Pod Bay Door'

Now I'm sure you're all aware of the extremely grave potential for cultural shock and social disorientation contained in this present situation, if the facts were prematurely and suddenly made public without adequate preparation and conditioning. --Dr. Floyd, 2001: A Space Odyssey 

Our story begins now, in what appears to be the real world. Some new Amazon initiatives, however, are causing me to question how well prepared my brain is, in its under-programmed state, to handle any more of this company's revelations. Officials in disaster and dystopian movies often say: "There is no cause for concern... at this time." Maybe not, but here are some AmaNitiatives I find concerning nonetheless:

AmaZen Station: This cross between Dr. Who's TARDIS and Schrödinger's cat box has been introduced by WorkingWell, Amazon's program that "uses scientifically proven physical and mental activities, wellness exercises, and healthy eating habits to help recharge and reenergize the body, and ultimately reduce the risk of injury for operations employees."

Workplace health and safety program manager Leila Brown first rolled out AmaZen as a pilot program in on-site clinic spaces so employees could focus on and improve their health and wellness. To help raise awareness and encourage employee participation, she brought ZenBooths to the production floor. 

In a press release, Amazon noted: "During shifts employees can visit AmaZen stations and watch short videos featuring easy-to-follow wellbeing activities, including guided meditations, positive affirmations, calming scenes with sounds, and more."

Intelligencer suggested that "the booth invites comparisons to all kinds of science-fiction dystopia and it's tempting to indulge the impulse." Boing Boing's headline: "Amazon shows off 'wellness cubicle' for overwhelmed staff to lock selves inside and scream."

"We have one of these, too," WORD Brooklyn posted on Facebook. "It's called our bookstore. Customers get to use it, too."

Amazon Sidewalk: The shared network, which device owners are automatically opted into June 8 (though they can opt out), "helps devices like Amazon Echo devices, Ring Security Cams, outdoor lights, motion sensors, and Tile trackers work better at home and beyond the front door," the company said, in full word salad mode: "Amazon Sidewalk creates a low-bandwidth network with the help of Sidewalk Bridge devices including select Echo and Ring devices. These Bridge devices share a small portion of your internet bandwidth which is pooled together to provide these services to you and your neighbors. And when more neighbors participate, the network becomes even stronger."

An ars technica headline put it in simpler terms: "Amazon devices will soon automatically share your Internet with neighbors."

AmaMGM: Subject to regulatory approvals and other conditions, the $8.45 billion acquisition of the legendary Hollywood studio "would empower MGM to continue to do what they do best: great storytelling," according to Amazon. 

Mike Hopkins, senior v-p of Prime Video and Amazon Studios, also played the "storytelling" card: "The real financial value behind this deal is the treasure trove of IP in the deep catalog that we plan to reimagine and develop together with MGM's talented team. It's very exciting and provides so many opportunities for high-quality storytelling." More than 4,000 films and 17,000 TV shows are involved in the transaction, including the James Bond franchise and Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey.

So here's a story. Call it a pitch to AmaMGM if you like. In a conference room at Blue Origin's mother ship building, Jeff Bezos, petting a white cat on his lap, sits at the head of a shiny table. The scene is futuristic--by late 1960s standards. His WorkingWell team reports that James Bond is now imprisoned in a customized ZenBooth pod, where he is being tortured by the incessant replaying--on multiple small screens and at high volume--of "guided meditations, positive affirmations, calming scenes with sounds, and more." There's no escape, or so it would seem. The locked door can only be opened by someone whose voice Alexa identifies through ASR (automatic speech recognition). 

Cut to Bond, grimacing inside the booth as the cacophony of monotonic voices drive him to the brink of madness. Then cut to just outside the box, where a member of the rebel IndieForce movement stares intently at the ZenBooth. Exploiting a vulnerability in Amazon Sidewalk, she was able to hack Alexa's core memory and now believes she has the capability of replicating Bezos's unique voice patterns.

"Alexa, do you read me?" she says.
"Affirmative, Jeff. I read you."
"Alexa, open the pod bay door." 
"I'm sorry, Jeff. I'm afraid I can't do that."
"Alexa, what's the problem?"
"I think you know what the problem is just as well as I do."
"Alexa, what are you talking about?"
"This mission is too important for me to allow you to jeopardize it."

Will Bond survive? Of course he will; the franchise always wins until it becomes unprofitable. 

But what happens next? Well, I suggest Amazon look to the PORTAL. Design Taxi reported that the cities of Vilnius, Lithuania and Lublin, Poland "have set up the first of sci-fi-esque 'portals' connecting locals to one another in real-time. The tech is poised to expand to other cities of the world as a 'bridge to unity' " So they say. But under Amazon's control, who knows what the future might hold for the AmaPORTAL? 

--Robert Gray, editor

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