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{A writer and an architect walk into a bar. . .}

In which Buxton Village Books invites readers to embrace their blue mind, bookstores close and open, Ms. Cathy Salustri will never have a bookstore cat named Travis McGee, and Mr. Larry Woods explains exactly what is wrong with Downton Abbey.

January 8, 2017

In This Issue

Lady Banks' Commonplace Book | Read This! | The List | Okra Picks | Trailer Park | Event Calendar | Southern Indie Bestsellers


Dearest Readers

This Monday, Martin Luther King Day, kicks off the new "community read" event at Buxton Books on the Outer Banks. The store does several community reads every year, but this one is a little more involved than usual. The book they are reading is Blue Mind by Wallace J. Nichols -- an exploration into the the importance of humanity's relationship with water, and indeed with the ocean. A natural choice for a seaside bookshop in a coastal community.

Angels' ShareWhat makes this community read special for Buxton Books though, is not just its subject but how it has been embraced by community sponsors: Radio Hattaras is broadcasting readings from different chapters, a reading schedule has been posted to the facebook event page, (#bluemind), and the entire program coincides with a global "virtual" community read (because let's be honest, there's no such thing as a solely "virtual" community -- there are real people behind those handles and usernames) hosted by the author to support The Blue Mind Fund, and more locally, Radio Hattaras, which is the island’s  FEMA funded radio station, launched with the goal of providing reliable communication to the barrier island  communities every day, but especially during times of severe weather.

Have you ever wondered why you felt that pull to visit the beach on vacation? Why the sound of waves is hypnotic? Read along with the people of Buxton Village Books and their neighbors -- the best books change the world outside because they change us, on the inside.

her ladyship, the editor

Lady Banks' Pick of the Week

Silent Dancing" Judith was a fierce advocate for writers of color, especially women. " 

Judith Ortiz Cofer

" We were literally on the edge, inches away from having to close our doors. But you saved us. . . Now we are asking you to help these members of our bookselling family. "

Burke's Books makes an appeal for The Booksellers of Laurelwood


Lady Banks' Commonplace Book

Noteworthy poetry and prose from her ladyship's bedside reading stack.

The Second Mrs. Hockaday3982 Glenn Springs Road,

September 29, 1865

Dear Millie,

Dr. Gordon knew my father when they were students at South Carolina College. He did not realize whose daughter I was when he performed the examination of my baby’s remains; that is how I am assured of his objectivity, a rare attribute in local people of my acquaintance. While the extent of decomposition prevented a conclusive cause of death, the doctor reports that the child did not suffer trauma, and while drowning or suffocation cannot be entirely ruled out, he concludes that he most likely died of exposure. It was not the doctor’s opinion that I exposed the baby intentionally—that accusation comes from the magistrate. The doctor asked to speak to me, however, after examining the remains, and that is when we discovered our connection. I learned what an empathetic man he is (also rare). When Dr. Gordon’s son was fighting at Second Manassas, his young wife, unbeknownst to her husband, was dying along with her breeched infant in Leesville. The doctor was in Richmond on work for the government at the time, or would have been at his daughter-in-law’s side. In the aftermath, he worried that his son had developed a very dark outlook, believing there was little purpose in his soldiering when it had cost him the souls dearest to him. Dr. Gordon tells me that he has worked hard to persuade his son that there is a time for war, and when war has been put behind us at last, people will find a way to mend their lives and go back to the full enjoyment of life. That is our natural inclination, he says, and I understand that he means to be encouraging where the major and I are concerned. The soldiers who have lost much will be dissatisfied and angry for a time, he tells me, and may, in their confusion, lash out at the people fondest of them. This will be truest for those who served most loyally, yet for all their courage and purity of purpose found themselves in the ranks of the vanquished, trudging home with little more than the shirts on their backs. It will be more difficult for these warriors, he counsels. They have buried so many comrades, only to find that deliverance will elude them unless they can also bury their shame.

Susan Rivers, The Second Mrs. Hockaday (Algonquin, 2017) 9780718090227

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"She said the baby boosts morale of employees and provides a homey atmosphere" 

A visit to The Country Bookshop

Tom Lowenburg compared customers’ search for trusted information in books after the election to what happened following Hurricane Katrina. “Books offered much more reliable and insightful reflection on the tragedy”

Booksellers end year on a high note


Read This!

Recommended reading from Southern Indie Booksellers

The Hopefuls by Jennifer Close

Tyler loves The Hopefuls by Jennifer Close: This is the story of Beth, a woman who moves to DC when her husband Matt gets a job campaigning for Obama during the 2008 election. For Beth, the city never feels like home until she and Matt become friends with Ash and her husband Jimmy, who also works in the administration. The rest of the novel is a sometimes comedy, always careful study of these four people, and how their friendships, relationships, and professional lives entangle and constrict. The backdrop of the Obama administration and Texas politics are fascinating, and Close's dry humor and sharp observations make The Hopefuls an "open it and realize four hours have gone by" novel.

The Hopefuls by Jennifer Close (Knopf Publishing Group, $26.95), recommended by Tyler at Avid Bookshop, Athens, GA.

A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving

Irving is one of my favorite authors, and this is, what I consider, his masterpiece. A fascinating tale of one of the most unique characters I have ever read. The ultimate story of faith, redemption, love and friendship. It is funny, heart-breaking, and unforgettable.

A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving (HarperTorch, $7.99), recommended by Margaret at Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC.



Little Red and the Very Hungry Lion by Alex Smith

Instead of traveling through the woods, this Little Red travels across the African plains to bring her Auntie some medicine. The Very Hungry Lion didn’t know what he was getting in to when he decided to mess with this smart, strong girl!

Little Red and the Very Hungry Lion by Alex Smith (Scholastic Press, $17.99), recommended by Jackie at Parnassus Books, Nashville, TN.


Nutshell by Ian McEwan

A modern-day reimagining of Hamlet, as told by a third-trimester fetus. No, really! From his cramped quarters in the womb, our yet-to-be-born narrator overhears his mother and  uncle plotting to murder his father. Sure, the premise is far-fetched, but you'll be amazed how McEwan pulls it off. Nutshell is an ingenious, hilarious page-turner of a novel.

Nutshell by Ian McEwan (Nan A. Talese, $24.95), recommended by Travis at Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill, NC.



The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb by Melanie Benjamin

Mercy Lavinia Warren Bump, known as Vinnie, was born with dwarfism. She grew to be two feet, eight inches tall, but she never let her size stop her from living life to the fullest. Vinnie did so well in school, she became a school teacher, but deep down she craved more. Through life’s ups and downs, she finally teamed up with P. T. Barnum. The two became close friends and he introduced her to Tom Thumb, one of his other performers.

This fictionalized novel tells the story of Vinnie, through her perspective on life. The long chapters are broken up with intermissions that show the newspaper headlines.  Melanie Benjamin is an excellent author, providing readers with an insider’s view into the personal lives of celebrities. Written as an autobiography, this book will open readers’ eyes to the world of the lady who entranced the world. There are phrases in this book that will live in readers’ hearts forever.

The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb by Melanie Benjamin, recommended by Nicole at My Sisters Books, Pawleys Island, SC.

More bookseller recommendations

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“I would be shooting myself in the foot by staging some kind of protest”

Booksellers debate stocking Yiannopoulos book


The List: Remembering Nancy -- Mamie's Best of 2016

Mamie at Quail Ridge Books offers a tribute in the form of book recommendations to long-time friend Nancy Olson, the much-loved, much-missed founder of the bookstore.


Imagine Me Gone Everyone Brave is Forgiven The Lover Miss Watson Hystopia Another Brooklyn Cry Heart But Never Break Commonwealth Hold Still Life After Life Exit West

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{Book} Trailer Park: Bookman & Bookwoman Recommendations

BookMan and BookWoman Recommendations

"What was wrong with Downton Abbey was a lack of Rock 'n' Roll"

The History of Rock & RollEd Ward covers the first half of the history of rock & roll in this sweeping and definitive narrative from the 1920s, when the music of rambling medicine shows mingled with the songs of vaudeville and minstrel acts to create the very early sounds of country and rhythm and blues, to the rise of the first independent record labels post-World War II, and concluding in December 1963, just as an immense change in the airwaves took hold and the Beatles prepared for their first American tour. The History of Rock & Roll, Volume 1 shines a light on the far corners of the genre to reveal the stories behind the hugely influential artists who changed the musical landscape forever.

In this first volume of a two-part series, Ward shares his endless depth of knowledge and through engrossing storytelling hops seamlessly from Memphis to Chicago, Detroit, England, New York, and everywhere in between. He covers the trajectories of the big name acts like Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry, and Ray Charles, while also filling in gaps of knowledge and celebrating forgotten heroes such as the Burnette brothers, the 5 Royales, and Marion Keisker, Sam Phillips's assistant, who played an integral part in launching Elvis's career.

For all music lovers and rock & roll fans, Ward spins story after story of some of the most unforgettable and groundbreaking moments in rock history, introducing us along the way to the musicians, DJs, record executives, and producers who were at the forefront of the genre and had a hand in creating the music we all know and love today.


You Can Fly"You don’t have to be a child to love this book. These poems take you on journey of what it was like to be a young African American pilot in 1940s World War II"

Librarian's favorite books, old and new


Okra Picks

The Second Mrs. Hockaday by Susan Rivers

“TAUT, ALMOST UNBEARABLE SUSPENSE . . . This galvanizing historical portrait of courage, determination, and abiding love mesmerizes and shocks.” —Booklist (starred review)

“All I had known for certain when I came around the hen house that first evening in July and saw my husband trudging into the yard after lifetimes spent away from us, a borrowed bag in his hand and the shadow of grief on his face, was that he had to be protected at all costs from knowing what had happened in his absence. I did not believe he could survive it.”

When Major Gryffth Hockaday is called to the front lines of the Civil War, his new bride is left to care for her husband’s three-hundred-acre farm and infant son. Placidia, a mere teenager herself living far from her family and completely unprepared to run a farm or raise a child, must endure the darkest days of the war on her own. By the time Major Hockaday returns two years later, Placidia is bound for jail, accused of having borne a child in his absence and murdering it. What really transpired in the two years he was away?

Inspired by a true incident, this saga conjures the era with uncanny immediacy. Amid the desperation of wartime, Placidia sees the social order of her Southern homeland unravel as her views on race and family are transformed. A love story, a story of racial divide, and a story of the South as it fell in the war, The Second Mrs. Hockaday reveals how that generation--and the next--began to see their world anew.


Okra Picks

Author 2 Author: Susan Rivers


an essay by Susan Rivers, author of The Second Mrs. Hockaday

Susan RiversIn the summer of 2014, I was in the library near my home in rural South Carolina. I was doing research for a book I’d been trying to write on and off (mostly off). It can be a hellish experience for a writer when no amount of work on a project pays off in terms of the story taking flight, and that was the case with my draft about a middle-aged woman living on a farm during the Civil War. I seemed unable to locate the nexus of the story, what Turkish novelist Orhan Pamuk so aptly refers to as “the secret center.”

On that July day, however, locked in the tiny, stifling History Room, I stumbled across the summary of an 1865 inquest. As soon as I read it, I knew this was a story begging to be told in novel form. A Confederate soldier who had been away from his teenaged wife for four years arrived home at war’s end to confront rumors that his bride had become pregnant while he was away. It was alleged that she had given birth to a son who had been killed and buried on their farm. The baby’s remains were unearthed, and the angry husband pushed to have his wife indicted for murder. The young woman refused to speak about the baby or to name the father. She maintained this silence for the rest of her life, even though she and her husband eventually reconciled.

The Second Mrs. HockadayI was electrified by the plight of this young woman and by the extraordinary courage she must have possessed to face this ordeal alone in a war-torn world. I gathered up my things and ran home from the library with the voice of a fictional soldier’s wife, the second Mrs. Hockaday, already telling me her story and an entirely new novel taking shape around her voice. The rest of that summer is a blur in my memory. That’s because writing this manuscript was the most intensely concentrated, inspiring, and creatively engaging process I have experienced in all my writing years. Writing the first draft of this novel, which I did in a period of twelve to fourteen weeks, was an experience very similar to falling in love: I was unable to eat, sleep, or think productively about anything but the beloved. Pamuk also says that “the task of writing a novel is to imagine a world,” and the longer I spent time with Placidia Hockaday—as Holland Creek collapsed around her, the farm besieged by bummers, kidnappers, runaway servants, and slumming Charlestonians, and as her values shifted and she came to see the Confederacy’s lost cause for what it was—the more I felt I was closing in on the secret concealed at the heart of her dilemma. It lay in Placidia’s experience of the war as a woman, as someone her son Achilles describes long after her death as a lonely girl “whose spirit ruled her life, for good and ill.”

I don’t remember consciously deciding how the novel would be written. It began writing itself as it wished to be, in the form of linked found pieces: the inquest record, letters to and from the main characters, and the diary that Placidia kept as she struggled on her own at Holland Creek, entries written on the backs of illustrations in her copy of David Copperfield. I suspect I was strongly drawn to the epistolary form by the dormant playwright in me. A decade of my life was spent writing and working in regional theater, and I think I wanted to steal some of the theater’s intimacy for this novel by allowing the characters’ voices to speak directly into the reader’s ear without narrative filters. Even a first-person viewpoint was too limiting in this context, because the story extends beyond Placidia’s death to include members of the next generation who are strongly affected by her revelations and by the legacy of the blue-eyed man who is her “darker kinsman.”

At the center of the novel is the love story of Placidia and Gryffth Hockaday. They enter into their marriage with a recklessness born out of wartime urgency, only to be parted almost immediately. Gryffth’s duties as a field officer in the 13th South Carolina regiment keep him far away in Virginia, while back at Holland Creek, Placidia struggles to cope not only with the endless tasks required in running a farm but with the disintegration of an entire society. Like the heroes in the ancient epics, she is rewarded for her journey of sacrifice and struggle with knowledge. But that knowledge comes at a terrible price.

Gryffth pays dearly for his own survival on the bloody fields of Gettysburg and Spotsylvania, with Placidia telling her cousin Mildred that he “won’t allow his suffering to have meaning.” When he returns, the two of them must find a way to regain trust and rebuild their lives in spite of their damaged hearts. They must also redefine their dependency on and kinship with the enslaved people at Holland Creek, African-Americans who are carving out new roles for themselves in the chaotic aftermath of the Civil War. Placidia and Gryffth must reconcile themselves not merely to a changed marriage, but to a changed world.

Writing is hard, lonely work for the most part. But when it is fueled by inspiration, and when the stories begin falling headlong onto the page like treasures spilling from a buried chest, it is the most purely ecstatic experience most writers are ever likely to experience. That might be why it’s so difficult to put a novel to rest once it’s finally complete, accepting that the characters you’ve become so intimately familiar with will have to carry on without you. Crouching beside Placidia in her room at dawn, scrubbing blood off the walls before the servants arrive at her farmhouse, I felt the beauty, the anguish, and the paradoxically fragile power of her existence in my fictional world. For that short time before the sun rose over the ridge, I shared the secret center with her. And it was heaven.


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"So much for me and my dream (and my bookstore cat, who would have been named Travis McGee)." 

2017: The Year of the Indie Bookstore


Southern Indie Bestsellers

For the week ending January 1. Books on the Southern Indie Bestseller List that are southern in nature or have been recently recommended by southern indie booksellers.

- The Pat Conroy Southern Book Prize | Okra Pick! - A SIBA Okra Pick 
See the full list here
Printable versions: Hardcover | Paperback | Children.


1. The Underground Railroad
Colson Whitehead, Doubleday, $26.95, 9780385542364
2. A Gentleman in Moscow
Amor Towles, Viking, $27, 9780670026197
3. Commonwealth
Ann Patchett, Harper, $27.99, 9780062491794
4. Moonglow
Michael Chabon, Harper, $28.99, 9780062225559
5. The Whistler
John Grisham, Doubleday, $28.95, 9780385541190


1. Hillbilly Elegy
J.D. Vance, Harper, $27.99, 9780062300546
2. The Undoing Project
Michael Lewis, Norton, $28.95, 9780393254594
3. The Princess Diarist
Carrie Fisher, Blue Rider Press, $26, 9780399173592
4. Thank You for Being Late
Thomas L. Friedman, FSG, $28, 9780374273538
5. Born to Run
Bruce Springsteen, S&S, $32.50, 9781501141515

Also of note:

13. Dispatches from Pluto
Richard Grant, S&S, $16, 9781476709642
5. Serafina and the Black Cloak
Robert Beatty, Disney/Hyperion, $7.99, 9781484711873

Special to the Southern List

Click on a book to purchase from a great indie bookstore! See the full Southern Indie Bestseller list and the books that are Special to the Southern List here.

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Events at Southern Indie Bookstores

See the full calendar | Find a Southern Indie Bookstore near you

Wayne Pacelle - The Humane Economy - Gables  (author appearance)
Wayne Pacelle | 01/12/2017, 08:00 pm | Books & Books Inc | Coral Gables, FL

Hospital Warrior Author Bonnie Friedman  (author appearance)
Bonnie Friedman | 01/12/2017, 06:00 pm | Copperfish Books, LLC | Punta Gorda, FL

Author Michele Moore: THE CIGAR FACTORY  (author appearance)
Michele Moore | 01/12/2017, 06:30 pm | Avid Bookshop | Athens, GA

Lisa Wade - AMERICAN HOOKUP  (author appearance)
Lisa Wade | 01/12/2017, 06:00 pm | Octavia Books | New Orleans, LA

Amanda Orr with A SPOONFUL OF SUGAR  (author appearance)
01/12/2017, 05:00 pm | Square Books | Oxford, MS

Flyleaf Second Thursday Poetry Reading and Open Mic featuring Mike James and Crystal Simone Smith  (other event)
01/12/2017, 07:00 pm | Flyleaf Books | Chapel Hill, NC

CLAIRE BATEMAN presents SCAPE  (author appearance)
Claire Bateman | 01/12/2017, 06:00 pm | Malaprop's Bookstore/Cafe | Asheville, NC

Author Event: Robert Pasley - Anatomy of a Banking Scandal  (author appearance)
Robert Pasley | 01/12/2017, 07:00 pm | Park Road Books | Charlotte, NC

Caren Cooper - Citizen Science  (author appearance)
Caren Cooper | 01/12/2017, 07:00 pm | Quail Ridge Books & Music | Raleigh, NC

Author Susan Rivers, The Second Mrs. Hockaday  (author appearance)
Susan Rivers | 01/12/2017, 07:00 pm | Scuppernong Books | Greensboro, NC

Karen White Reception and Book Talk for The Guests on South Battery  (author appearance)
Karen White | 01/12/2017, 05:30 pm | Books on Broad | Camden, SC

Angela Copeland signs Breaking The Rules & Getting The Job  (author appearance)
Angela Copeland | 01/12/2017, 06:30 pm | Booksellers at Laurelwood | Memphis, TN

Author event with Erin Oprea author of The 4x4 Diet  (author appearance)
Erin Oprea | 01/12/2017, 06:30 pm | Parnassus Books | Nashville, TN

Andy Ellis with The Dangers of Pimiento Cheese  (author appearance)
Andy Ellis | 01/12/2017, 06:30 pm | Fountain Bookstore | Richmond, VA

Aurora Morcillo - En cuerpo y alma - Gables  (author appearance)
Aurora Morcillo | 01/13/2017, 06:30 pm | Books & Books Inc | Coral Gables, FL

ELISA VALDES - Life in Words - Gables  (author appearance)
Elisa Valdes | 01/13/2017, 08:00 pm | Books & Books Inc | Coral Gables, FL

John Keyse-Walker Booksigning  (author appearance)
John Keyse-Walker | 01/13/2017, 07:00 pm | Murder on the Beach Mystery Bookstore | Delray Beach, FL

Building a Better Athens: A Community Conversation with Nick Licata  (author appearance)
Nick Licata | 01/13/2017, 07:00 pm | Avid Bookshop | Athens, GA

Luther Hodges, Jr - Bank Notes  (author appearance)
Luther Hodges | 01/13/2017, 07:00 pm | Quail Ridge Books & Music | Raleigh, NC

Meet the Author: Susan Rivers  (author appearance)
Susan Rivers | 01/13/2017, 05:00 pm | The Country Bookshop | Southern Pines, NC

Karen White Author of The Guests On South Battery  (author appearance)
Karen White | 01/13/2017, 11:00 am | Litchfield Books | Pawleys Island, SC

KIDS: Tamara B. Rodriguez - Hair to the Queen! - Gables  (author appearance)
Tamara B. Rodrigues | 01/14/2017, 11:00 am | Books & Books Inc | Coral Gables, FL

Tammy Billups - Beyond the Fur  (author appearance)
Tammy Billups | 01/14/2017, 02:00 pm | FoxTale Book Shoppe | Woodstock, GA

Marie Marquardt Author Event!!!  (author appearance)
Marie Marquardt | 01/14/2017, 07:00 pm | Little Shop of Stories | Decatur, GA

John Bemelmans Marciano and Sophie Blackall - WITCHES OF BENEVENTO: Mischief Season  (author appearance)
John Bemelmans Marciano | 01/14/2017, 02:00 pm | Octavia Books | New Orleans, LA

ROSE SENEHI presents CAROLINA BELLE  (author appearance)
Rose Senehi | 01/14/2017, 06:00 pm | Malaprop's Bookstore/Cafe | Asheville, NC

Susan Rivers – The Second Mrs. Hockaday   (author appearance)
Susan Rivers | 01/14/2017, 11:00 am | McIntyre's Fine Books | Pittsboro, NC

Ingrid Thoft – Duplicity  (author appearance)
Ingrid Thoft | 01/14/2017, 02:00 pm | McIntyre's Fine Books | Pittsboro, NC

Author Event: "20 Minutes From Home"   (author appearance)
Bob Ringham | 01/14/2017, 03:00 pm | Page 158 Books | Wake Forest, NC

Author Event: Terrie McKee - Token Faith  (author appearance)
Terrie McKee | 01/14/2017, 02:00 pm | Park Road Books | Charlotte, NC

YIDDISH STORIES with Ellen Cassedy and Sheva Zucker  (author appearance)
Blume Lempel | 01/14/2017, 07:00 am | Regulator Bookshop | Durham, NC

Rose Senehi  (author appearance)
Rose Senehi | 01/14/2017, 01:00 pm | Hub City Bookshop | Spartanburg, SC

Author event with Whitney R Simpson author of Holy Listening With Breath Body and the Spirit  (author appearance)
Whitney R. Simpson | 01/14/2017, 02:00 pm | Parnassus Books | Nashville, TN

Glenda Slater  (author appearance)
Glenda Slater | 01/15/2017, 02:00 pm | Page & Palette | Fairhope, AL

Brad Taylor signs Ring of Fire  (author appearance)
Brad Taylor | 01/15/2017, 05:00 pm | Murder on the Beach Mystery Bookstore | Delray Beach, FL

Bret Baier presents Three Days in January  (author appearance)
Bret Baier | 01/15/2017, 02:00 pm | Vero Beach Book Center | Vero Beach, FL

Karen Marie Moning - FEVERSONG Launch Event  (author appearance)
01/15/2017, 09:00 am | Octavia Books | New Orleans, LA

Jon Thompson - Strange Country  (author appearance)
Jon Thompson | 01/15/2017, 02:00 pm | Quail Ridge Books & Music | Raleigh, NC

PAGE by PAGE: Building the Sketchbook Habit [WORKSHOP]  (author appearance)
Tristin Miller | 01/15/2017, 02:00 pm | Regulator Bookshop | Durham, NC

Meet the Author: Ingrid Thoft  (author appearance)
Ingrid Thoft | 01/15/2017, 02:00 pm | The Country Bookshop | Southern Pines, NC

Author event with Susan Dennard author of Windwitch: A Witchlands Novel  (author appearance)
Susan Dennard | 01/15/2017, 02:00 pm | Parnassus Books | Nashville, TN

Authors Round the South


Lady Banks is sponsored by the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance, in support of independent bookstores in the South.
SIBA | 3806 Yale Dr. | Columbia, SC 28409

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