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ande
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#24 Edgar Sawtelle, the tyranny of book categories, possible book giveaway and my smoothie recipe!

[ Edited ]
Book Explorers!
Hope you are staying cool wherever you are (note to Explorers who may be shivering in the Southern Hemisphere: stay warm!). Aside from occasional unbearable humidity, this is a very delicious time of the year for yours truly. By this point of the summer things have really slowed down, my garden is in full bloom, my feet are unencumbered by shoes, the local corn and tomatoes are in and I am reading almost as many books for pleasure as I am for work.
It is the most delicious experience to start a big book you know you will love. I’ve just begun The Story of Edgar Sawtelle, by David Wroblewski, which is getting a lot of notice both because those who have read it talk about it in such wonderous terms and because this is the author’s literary debut (like many “overnight” successes he’s been writing this book for a long time). As I said, I just started it so don’t tell me too, too much about what happens after page 50, which is where I am right now. I’m sure I will want to discuss it when I’m done though.
As you know I am a keen observer of cover art and Edgar Sawtelle has a one of those magical covers that makes you want to find out about the male figure and dog, what has happened in the location shown and how that place has affected the the person and the dog (those of you who do not have companion animals may not wonder so much about the dog). And there is nothing better than a fabulous book/author that despite all obstacles in the publishing industry makes it into your hands.
Book categories: I’ve been thinking a lot this week about how books are categorized for a few reasons. A visitor from another board dropped in to Book Explorers to give me/us a primer on vampire-related literature after my remarks of last week about the Twilight book series and what some people are saying about the effect it has on youngish readers. I thought this visitor was very generous with his/her (?) time and now extend an invitation to any other people who normally spend time on boards with specific themes to drop by the very generalist Book Explorers Club and provide some recommendations on how best to get started in your genre. 
Another reason I’ve been thinking a lot lately about book categories is that occasionally we at the Literary Ventures Fund are asked to consider a young adult (YA) or children’s book. That’s not what we tend to support, but we’re open to the exceptional exception to the rule. There is a system by which books get categorized by publishers, which determines how books are placed at bookstores -– except when renegade booksellers ignore it. And that makes sense most of the time. Yes, we all know from the publishing scandals of late that there is trouble when fiction gets all confused with non-fiction. And few of us want to walk through the door of a bookshop to find thousands of stacks of books with no obvious way to figure out what’s in each pile. 

 

But sometimes this system has odd consequences and a book that should be available to a broad audience is published as an academic book. Sometimes that book crosses over. More often, not. In this week’s New York Times Book Review, the back page essay was all about the young adult (YA) category and how many books that started there ended up in adult hands and becoming best sellers. The author, who had the experience of being categorized as YA, talked about how many authors have felt that there is a stigma attached to that. Read it and tell me what you think. You’ll be surprised to see how many so-called YA titles you’ve read.

Possible giveaway of Feather Man, by Rhyll McMaster. This book is being published in September in the US, Canada and the UK after a glorious and highly praised -– and awarded – debut in Australia last year. Lots of you asked for a copy last time we did a giveaway (The Spirit of the Place was the book) but only about 50% of the recipients actually participated. We had a fun and vibrant discussion but I’d like to see more participation this time around. Who can commit to being part of a discussion? I would send books out (first-come, first served) in early August for discussion in September if there are enough of you who can truly commit.
My smoothie recipe: Here’s a reward for those of you who have read this far. Granted, it’s not the most original or exciting recipe, but it is very filling, tasty and refreshing. I have one every morning in the summer when it’s all I really want for breakfast. Put into blender in this order:
3 ice cubesHalf-cup of milk (skim, whole, 2% -- whatever)
2-3 tablespoons vanilla whey protein powder
1 banana cut in thirds (feel free to add any other fruit individually or together) 
Whirr the whole thing together for 20-30 seconds
Enjoy!
Ande
Message Edited by ande on 07-22-2008 11:49 AM
Message Edited by ande on 07-22-2008 11:51 AM
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IBIS
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Re: #24 Young Adult Book Categories

[ Edited ]
Ande, thank you for the smoothie recipe... it's amazingly easy and fast... deliciously tasty, and healthy too!

I read the NYT article re YA categories; I ran across a similar dilemma just last week. I started reading The Book Thief (featured in one of B&N Fiction bookclubs). I was surprised when I purchased it, that it was being marketed in the YA category... there is a teenage protagonist who steals books during WWII.

By page 50, the sensibility of the story, and the heroine, struck me as very, very young.... maybe the vocabulary, perhaps the emotional content, or maybe the author's depth of insight...

I wasn't sure, but by page 100 I felt restless... I tried to regain interest, reminding myself of the very positive reviews and recommendations... alas, by page 120 I had to give up. I tried, I really tried.

It wasn't the subject matter of the Holocaust, it wasn't the seriousness of her predicaments... it wasn't even her dreary circumstances... there was a definite naive tone in the writing, a very constricted world view... that felt simply too young, or naive, for me.

That's as close to articulating how I felt about The Book Thief. I would be interested to hear thoughts from other readers.

IBIS
Message Edited by IBIS on 07-22-2008 09:53 AM
IBIS

"I am a part of everything that I have read."
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ande
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Re: #24 Young Adult Book Categories

Hi IBIS:
Re: Smoothie. I forgot to mention that a scoop of ice cream can be added to make a milkshake.
Re: YA. I have not read The Book Thief, but I applaud you for just putting it down rather than forcing yourself to continue. Too little time, too many books.
Ande
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thewanderingjew
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#24 the tyranny of book categories, possible book giveaway


ande wrote: (partial quote)
...this is a very delicious time of the year for yours truly.
 
it sounds like a great place to be this summer. i have not been having as much luck with my garden. i have just a handful of tomatoes on the vine and i think they are ripening too quickly, before they are fully grown. my herbs didn't do well either this summer. however, the view of the water from my window makes up for any minor disappointments in life.
twj

 

ande wrote: (partial quote)

...occasionally we at the Literary Ventures Fund are asked to consider a young adult (YA) or children’s book. That’s not what we tend to support, but we’re open to the exceptional exception to the rule.

 

i could recommend a book for young adults called "the boy in striped pajamas" by Boyne, if you are considering selecting one although the subject matter may not be one you would choose. it is a quick read and i thought it was a very special little book with a very interesting message.

twj

 

ande wrote: (partial quote)
Book categories:

In this week’s New York Times Book Review, the back page essay was all about the young adult (YA) category and how many books that started there ended up in adult hands and becoming best sellers.

 

i read the times essay and was not totally surprised by the author's initial disappointment. the audience you reach with a children/young adult's book is not quite as large and i think he wanted not only to be well loved, but well received. the final comments were very touching and leant a different meaning to the essay. the fact that he was able to touch someone so personally had to be unbelievably satisfying and rewarding.

twj


ande wrote: (partial quote)

Possible giveaway of Feather Man, by Rhyll McMaster. I would send books out (first-come, first served) in early August for discussion in September if there are enough of you who can truly commit.
 
i will definitely commit to the discussion. so, if you are doing it, count me in, the reviews sound marvelous. thanks.
twj
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thewanderingjew
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Re: #24 Young Adult Book Categories

i think it is interesting that you found the presentation a little immature. i read it and i didn't mind it. i found the book to be very interesting and thought provoking because it treated the holocaust in a very different way than i have been used to seeing it presented.
however, that said, you have lots of company. we are discussing it on another board and it has been hard to keep continued interest. i don't think i am that discerning. i love reading and i am all over the place in my selections.
regarding YA books. i did recommend one in my previous post to ande. i found the book i recommended to be very simplistic, in language, which could irritate some readers. beyond that, i think the book is worth reading because of its message.

IBIS wrote:
I started reading The Book Thief (featured in one of B&N Fiction bookclubs). I was surprised when I purchased it, that it was being marketed in the YA category... there is a teenage protagonist who steals books during WWII.

By page 50, the sensibility of the story, and the heroine, struck me as very, very young.... maybe the vocabulary, perhaps the emotional content, or maybe the author's depth of insight...

I wasn't sure, but by page 100 I felt restless... I tried to regain interest, reminding myself of the very positive reviews and recommendations... alas, by page 120 I had to give up. I tried, I really tried.

It wasn't the subject matter of the Holocaust, it wasn't the seriousness of her predicaments... it wasn't even her dreary circumstances... there was a definite naive tone in the writing, a very constricted world view... that felt simply too young, or naive, for me.

That's as close to articulating how I felt about The Book Thief. I would be interested to hear thoughts from other readers.

IBIS
Message Edited by IBIS on 07-22-2008 09:53 AM

 

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pjpick
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Re: #24 Young Adult Book Categories

Hi Ande! What an odd coincidence! I made a trip to my local bookstore yesterday and came across Edgar Sawtelle on one of the tables. I, too, was very attracted to the cover. I recall running my fingers over the raised letters in the title. After fondling it for a while I put it back and made a note on my tattered "Books to look for" index card. (With as many books as I buy I have to buy paperbacks). It will be interesting to hear what you think of it.

 

I have to confess, I haven't read the article you posted yet regarding adults reading YA books so what I say may be not appropriate to the discussion (I'll read it later this afternoon). Having said that, YA stigma certainly has not stopped the Harry Potter readers! I hear many discussions at work regarding the book. However,  once mentioned Eragon at one of my book club meetings and one of the other members snapped, "Oh please! That's a children's book!"

 

In regards to The Book Thief, it seems many of the readers are unsure if it is appropriate for YA readers. Although I am not a parent, I do get to meet quite a few teenagers and I am amazed at how mature and articulate many of them are (even the 13 and 14 years olds). I wander by some of their summer reading tables and am very impressed by some of the books they are required to read. I recall learning about (and seeing graphic images) about the Holocaust and photos of the nuclear bomb results/victims in Nagasaki when I was in the 8th grade. However, at that same age they may not totally emotionally grasp the effects of the events that occurred. Sort of like, many teenagers can watch the horror type films (SAW, etc) but as we grow older we have that inability to watch things like that--maybe our own experiences we have had on our journey to adulthood has made us more sensitive. EX: a parent reading The Book Thief may be very struck and empathize with Papas efforts to take care of, protect, and provide for his family while maintaining his integrity whereas a younger reader may view Papa in much more basic manner such as someone to just love them. Wow! Does any of this make sense? I feel like I babbled for a while.

 

Will try adding the whey protein powder to my smoothies! That's a great idea!

Pj

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Re: #24 the tyranny of book categories, possible book giveaway

thewanderingjew wrote:
it sounds like a great place to be this summer. i have not been having as much luck with my garden. i have just a handful of tomatoes on the vine and i think they are ripening too quickly, before they are fully grown. my herbs didn't do well either this summer. however, the view of the water from my window makes up for any minor disappointments in life.
twj 
Lucky you! If you don't mind me asking what body of water are you looking at?
As for the Possible giveaway of Feather Man, by Rhyll McMaster (first-come, first served) in early August for discussion in September. Thank you for raising your hand. I am probably going to do it and you'll definately get a copy. Any other takers????
Ande

 

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Re: #24 Young Adult Book Categories

[ Edited ]
PJPick:
What a description of how you were attracted to the Edgar Sawtelle book. Sounds like love at first sight. Hope you have a lovely romance with this book when you get around to reading it.
YA books and appropriate reading matter for kids/teens: This is where the advice of a trusted bookseller and librarian can be very helpful. Make friends with these people, Book Explorers. They are smart and well-read and sensitive to your concerns!
Whey protein powder is terrific stuff. Tastes good combined with the other ingredients and gives you that shot of protein we all need in the morning. I see that Starbucks has a couple of new smoothie offerings with whey protein. It's much less expensive to make them at home and I think mine are better!
Ande
Message Edited by ande on 07-23-2008 06:15 PM
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Re: #24 the tyranny of book categories, possible book giveaway

i am on cape cod looking out on a pond which opens to a river and then to a bay and the ocean beyond. we are about 12 miles from martha's vineyard via the water. of course, today it was a little dreary with the fog and the rain but i love it any old way. life is laid back and stress free if you want it to be and that is how i like it!

thank you for including me in your discussion. i look forward to it.

twj


ande wrote:
Lucky you! If you don't mind me asking what body of water are you looking at?
As for the Possible giveaway of Feather Man, by Rhyll McMaster (first-come, first served) in early August for discussion in September. Thank you for raising your hand. I am probably going to do it and you'll definately get a copy. Any other takers????
Ande

 


 

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Re: #24 the tyranny of book categories, possible book giveaway

[ Edited ]
Ahhhh. I'm in Boston so I know very well the transporting power of that kind of setting. I have spent many, many wonderful days on the Cape, the Vineyard, Cape Ann etc reading and discussing books with near and dear and total strangers. You make friends quickly when you're reading a good book --unless you adopt the "don't think about talking to me posture." And if you're a book snoop like I am then you know what everyone around you is reading or what book they have in their bag.


I wish that everyone could spend time in a place where a pond or marsh opens to a river and then to a bay and the ocean beyond. Maybe seeing how one thing flows into the next and the interlocking nature of it all it would make us all speak up a bit louder when someone wants to fill it in that marsh or pond to build a house or shopping center.
Message Edited by ande on 07-24-2008 12:59 PM
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Re: #24 the tyranny of book categories, possible book giveaway

ande wrote:
Ahhhh. I'm in Boston so I know very well the transporting power of that kind of setting.

hmmm, ande, that is interesting, i lived downtown in boston for ten years; that is how i got to the cape. it was an easy one-day trip, if that was all the time we had to spend. of course when we moved three + hours away, it was no longer easy so we stay longer now which is a gift!
there were so many wonderful book stores back when i first moved to boston but they have all since gone to retail clothing outlets or some such thing, as in most places. there was one british bookstore, i think, that was beautifully paneled in rich woods and it had the feeling of a magnificent library. i loved to just walk around inside. i can't remember if it was off newbury or boylston street. it closed too quickly. i was really sad when i went there and found the doors locked. now there are only major chains, which resemble each other no matter where you find yourself and they have very little character. banks have gone that way too. when i was young, when you walked into a bank you were transported into a different world. interestingly enough, both, (although with entirely different concepts), have the capacity to take you on fabulous journeys and fulfill your dreams!

I have spent many, many wonderful days on the Cape, the Vineyard, Cape Ann etc reading and discussing books with near and dear and total strangers. You make friends quickly when you're reading a good book --unless you adopt the "don't think about talking to me posture." And if you're a book snoop like I am then you know what everyone around you is reading or what book they have in their bag.
originally hailing from brooklyn, i think i was perceived as a bit too friendly and talkative for the native new englander. my kids always say i could talk to a tree and get it to respond so maybe i overwhelmed them. i still maintain my friendship with many people i met there, but early on i realized that when i would turn to talk to a stranger, while waiting on line in various places, about anything from books to a conversation I was overhearing or simply to make a funny comment, the majority of the people who answered me in a friendly way, not as if i had "a screw loose", were people from california or ny! bostonians were very reserved.

I wish that everyone could spend time in a place where a pond or marsh opens to a river and then to a bay and the ocean beyond. Maybe seeing how one thing flows into the next and the interlocking nature of it all it would make us all speak up a bit louder when someone wants to fill it in that marsh or pond to build a house or shopping center.

perhaps i have grown into a cynic in my old age, but i don't think that most people care about the flow of things unless it directly affects them. it would be so nice if your wish could be realized but most people just kind of stand around, speechless, pretending to be invisible, when anything controversial comes up. they want people to feel like “they are their brother's keepers" but they perceive themselves as those that should be kept. they don’t want to give up their cell phones or their ipods or their air conditioning or their suv's, which by and large are necessary if you have a family and car seats. they want their "make mine bigger" houses but they don’t want to pay the doctor! they want their entertainment and their sporting events and will pay performers and athletes anything but they don’t appreciate the service that a ceo of a company provides them.
you can’t eat what entertainers and athletes provide. they are overpaid and too outspoken but americans have grown soft. the populous likes the soundbites these people, with their enormous bank accounts, provide. they say "do as we say, not as we do", aka al gore, and like lemmings they jump on the bandwagon seeking to belong to that esteemed “famous” group vicariously.
they confuse the word want with the word need. they want what someone else has whether or not they have earned it. we live in strange times, these days. those that work hard and follow the rules always seems to have to bail out those that disregard risk and take foolish chances. the animals appear to be running the zoo.
everyone seems to want things to be right with the world as long as it is at someone else's expense not theirs. i wish living in a peaceful spot where there is the natural flow of things, could be the answer, (i would invite everyone in), but i seriously doubt it. we have become too selfish or perhaps too greedy.
so, now you know that i am also very opinionated but i am willing to listen to what other people say and often change my mind.
twj

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Re: #24 the tyranny of book categories, possible book giveaway

TWJ:
All the cellphones and electronic devices we have give us the sense of being connected when we actually are very disconnected. I don't think people liked each other or liked to share any better in the olden days but many of them had to put shoulders to a common wheel to survive.
Sigh.
Ande
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Re: #24 the tyranny of book categories, possible book giveaway

hi ande,

you are probably right. when i lived in minnesota, people would go out of their way to help each other because of common need. they never knew when the situation would be reversed. the extremes of weather and remote communities made helping each other a necessity. it was such a wonderful, wholesome place to live and raise children. sometimes i wish i had never left.

new technology has connected all of us in cyberspace and isolated us in so many other ways. personal contact and responsibility have suffered. people say and do a lot of things they wouldn't ordinarily because they are anonymous.

years ago, before air conditioning, people sat on porches and stoops and knew their neighbors. they drove with car windows open and smiled at the people around them. now we all live in little insulated boxes and we view people as rude or threatening in some way if they look at or approach us directly.

that said, my message was direct but i didn't mean to sound angry. i just always "speak/write my mind. do you really think that people don't like each other? i didn't mean to imply that. i just kind of think that people have lost their way a bit and mixed up their priorities a little and maybe it will all come round eventually. i hope so.

life is full of all kinds of cycles. i try to find something to like in all the people i meet and i try to disregard their warts. we all have a "ghost in our closet" somewhere.


ande wrote:

TWJ:
All the cellphones and electronic devices we have give us the sense of being connected when we actually are very disconnected. I don't think people liked each other or liked to share any better in the olden days but many of them had to put shoulders to a common wheel to survive.
Sigh.
Ande

 

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TiggerBear
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Re: #24 the tyranny of book categories, possible book giveaway


thewanderingjew wrote:

hi ande,

you are probably right. when i lived in minnesota, people would go out of their way to help each other because of common need. they never knew when the situation would be reversed. the extremes of weather and remote communities made helping each other a necessity. it was such a wonderful, wholesome place to live and raise children. sometimes i wish i had never left.

new technology has connected all of us in cyberspace and isolated us in so many other ways. personal contact and responsibility have suffered. people say and do a lot of things they wouldn't ordinarily because they are anonymous.

years ago, before air conditioning, people sat on porches and stoops and knew their neighbors. they drove with car windows open and smiled at the people around them. now we all live in little insulated boxes and we view people as rude or threatening in some way if they look at or approach us directly.

that said, my message was direct but i didn't mean to sound angry. i just always "speak/write my mind. do you really think that people don't like each other? i didn't mean to imply that. i just kind of think that people have lost their way a bit and mixed up their priorities a little and maybe it will all come round eventually. i hope so.

life is full of all kinds of cycles. i try to find something to like in all the people i meet and i try to disregard their warts. we all have a "ghost in our closet" somewhere.


ande wrote:

TWJ:
All the cellphones and electronic devices we have give us the sense of being connected when we actually are very disconnected. I don't think people liked each other or liked to share any better in the olden days but many of them had to put shoulders to a common wheel to survive.
Sigh.
Ande

 I think some of that may still be where you live. I know 3/4 of my neibors, and we do help each other out. I help the short and elders at the grocery store. And the other day I had not 1 but 3 gental men help me with a 50lb water thingy I bought; one put in my cart, one put it on the belt an then back in the cart, and one put it in my car for me. Didn't even have to ask either.


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Re: #24 the tyranny of book categories, possible book giveaway

oh, i like your message. people should care about each other and help each other. wherever you are, it must be a great place to be and you must be a kind person.
twj


TiggerBear wrote:
I think some of that may still be where you live. I know 3/4 of my neibors, and we do help each other out. I help the short and elders at the grocery store. And the other day I had not 1 but 3 gental men help me with a 50lb water thingy I bought; one put in my cart, one put it on the belt an then back in the cart, and one put it in my car for me. Didn't even have to ask either.

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Re: #24 the tyranny of book categories, possible book giveaway

TWJ:
Oh, no. I don't think you sounded angry at all. Maybe wistful. About people "liking" each other: what I meant to say (but didn't express as clearly as I could of) is that we haven't lost the desire to be open to one another but there are just so many more distractions and static that we have to fight through these days. We lose ourselves so easily. Kind of like when you take a break from work, go away, slow down and vow to keep that "vacation feeling" for as long as you can. It's an uphill battle. Or even like when you go to a museum and think "gee, I really ought to do this more often" but then you get busy and don't. In any case, the fact that you ponder such things makes you a good person.
Ande
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ande
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Re: #24 the tyranny of book categories, possible book giveaway

TiggerBear:
I totally agree. And I'll even slice it thinner. You can live in a not-so-great city in a not-so-great neighborhood, but your block can be a true community.
Ande
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Re: #24 the tyranny of book categories, possible book giveaway

Yes, very true. But I have lived places where leaving the house was like crossing a battle field. I think it's a mix of place and people, that makes the difference.

ande wrote:
TiggerBear:
I totally agree. And I'll even slice it thinner. You can live in a not-so-great city in a not-so-great neighborhood, but your block can be a true community.
Ande

 

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Re: #24 the tyranny of book categories, possible book giveaway

And sometimes you meet the nicest people in the Book Explorers Club!
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Re: #24 the tyranny of book categories, possible book giveaway and my smoothie recipe!

Hi Ande, I've never posted on this board but have lurked here often. I would be interested in reading Feather Man, and would commit to discussing it.

 

As to Y.A. books, I also read The Book Thief for the Fiction reader's choice book club. I really enjoyed the book, but I had not voted for it b/c I was wary of the YA label given to it. The book had been written for adults and was released as an adult book in the author's country- Australia, but was marketed as YA for the US. I learned my lesson, I'd rather read a good book labed YA than an adult book that has been "dumbed down".

A room without books is like a body without a soul.~ Cicero...
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