Friday, June 21, 2013

Paperback 666: Dark Quarters / Stella Hampton (Fabian Z-117)

Paperback 666: Fabian Z-117 (PBO, 1957)

Title: Dark Quarters
Author: Stella Hampton
Cover artist: Uncredited

Yours for: $25


Best things about this cover:
  • "Uh, yeah, I got a letter here addressed to "Sidewalk"—that you?"
  • "... newspapers were her bed; her hair, a badger pelt." 
  • "Dark niches" HA ha. Subtle.
  • "As a child, dancing for her grandparents earned her shiny pennies ... but as a young woman, she earned naught but DARK QUARTERS."


Best things about this back cover:
  • Mmm, early Fabian books had such an awesomely low-rent, DIY vibe. 
  • Victims of their own success—"So many of you want the sleazy, badly written books we produce that we can't keep up w/ your orders! Long live barely literate perverts!"
  • This is from the era before publisher Sanford Aday got convicted of trafficking in obscenity—when the end matter of his books was chock full of long disquisitions on free speech and obscenity laws, and clippings of news about Supreme Court decisions, etc. Also, he occasionally documented his own legal struggles: "... the jury acquitted as to the book Rambling Maids and voted nine to three in favor of The Strange Three and Turbulent Daughters!" Take that, Ulysses!

Page 123~ (nah ... way too boring ... here's p. 27)
"Put your hand on my breast, Steve. You want to, don't you?"

"Yes, but ..."

"Just a little,—feel it like it's something you've never felt before."
"Squeeze it like a pastry bag, you cowardly bastard!," she cooed.


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Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Paperback 665: Patterns of Sin / Dave Patrick (Saber Tropic 922)

Paperback 665: Saber Tropic 922 (PBO, 1966)

Title: Patterns of Sin
Author: Dave Patrick
Cover artist: Uncredited [Bill Edwards]

Yours for: $26


Best things about this cover:
  • How is this book *not* titled "They Cloned Castro!"?
  • I think her underwear is pretty. 
  • Is it just me, or is it less fun to admire the half-naked lady when she's being gang-raped?


Best things about this back cover:
  • Ouch. I have sleaze whiplash. Going from Cuban gang rape to brother/sister incest will do that to you.
  • "May I?" Ha ha. So polite, and such proper grammar.
  • "Since there were no degrees of sin in her mind..."—the implications of this are staggering. "Oh, well, I already stole a $5 from the till, so I may as well carjack that lady and start running people over."
  • "Roddy." Again, HA ha.

Page 123~

"What's going on here?" he demanded, his eyes taking in the Major's body. 

Wow, this book is bound and determined to hit *all* the major "sins" (at least I assume this passage is a prelude to gay sex in the military). Too bad I don't do Page 144—it has a lengthy, clumsy, hilariously clinical description of lesbian 69. "... Estelle knew what the next step was to be, and she was reluctant to take it, until Gizelle's mouth reached its destination and moved on to her partner's thighs in a manner that said the act was to be a reciprocal, if it was performed." Mmm ... tell me less ...


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Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Paperback 664: Sex Without Marriage / Jonathan Starr and Bonnie Golightly (Lancer 72-648)

Paperback 664: Lancer Books 72-648 (PBO, 1962)

Title: Sex Without Marriage
Authors: Jonathan Starr & Bonnie Golightly
Cover artist: Uncredited

Yours for: $20


Best things about this cover:
  • This design is cool in an abstract art kind of way. Still can't help but wish I could see more of Jon and Bonnie than just their hastily sketched heads, though.
  • I keep reading "the real estate of non-marital relationships," which would be cool—a picture book of cool '60s apartments where people could just go at it.
  • "Bonnie Golightly" is the most made-up of made-up names. "Breakfast at Tiffany's" came out ... in 1961.
  • If I were a single woman I would have a t-shirt made that read simply "Bachelor Girl." I might have one made anyway.
  • Bonnie Golightly is my kind of woman—"unusually frank"!


Best things about this back cover:
  • That first line is brought to you by Dr. Seuss.
  • A. Yes, B. No (a guy's gotta sleep)
  • "Candidly" shmandidly! I want more "frank"!
Page 123~
This female, this hard sister, usually persuades herself that she has some good sensible reason for her self-perversion: to get some capital to go into business for herself, to put baby brother, or her own baby,  through college, to save herself from Mama's miserable fate of poverty and a sadistic husband, etc. She prides herself on being brutally frank with herself, on being shrewd, on being strong enough to be hard.  Quick money and big money is worth the sacrifice.
Oh dear god yes ... "brutally frank" ... that's the stuff. Also, this whole book is written in this florid, nutty style. Opening to random pages yields unexpected delights. Here, let's see ... p. 63: "If you have been spending most of your time at the lady's flat then an occasional bottle of hooch would be in order. You've probably been consuming most of hers." I think I'm going to tweet this whole book over the course of the summer. It's absolutely loaded with Frank Dating Advice For Cool Moderns. Also, thinking of adding "Hard Sister" t-shirt to my custom t-shirt order.


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Monday, June 17, 2013

Paperback 663: Women / Ed. A. M. Krich (Dell First Edition D3)

Paperback 663: Dell First Edition D3 (PBO, 1953)

Title: Women
Editor: A. M. Krich
Cover artist: Walter Brooks

Yours for: $7


Best things about this cover:
  • Women—can't live with 'em, can't tear their arms off.
  • Women—how to tell a real one from a sculpture.
  • Women—baffling us with their arcane "experiences" since the times of the ancient Greeks
  • I'm familiar with the green "women" symbol, but I'm having trouble with the mysterious pink thing they've thrown around her neck. Is that a diaphragm?


Best things about this back cover:
  • "Prepuberty in Women" seems self-contradictory.
  • "The Unmarried" sounds like a horror film.
  • "Menopause: It's Scary So Here's A Comforting Euphemism."

Page 123~

Among the Arapesh, the problem is seen not as maintenance of potency but as resistance of seduction by strong positively sexed women. "She will hold your cheeks, you will hold her breasts, your skin will tremble, you will sleep together, she will steal part of your body fluid, later she will give it to the sorcerer and you will die."

Sorry, I'm still giggling at "She will hold your cheeks..."


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Sunday, June 16, 2013

Paperback 662: The Saint in Europe / Leslie Charteris (Avon 611)

Paperback 662: Avon 611 (1st ptg, 1954)

Title: The Saint in Europe
Author: Leslie Charteris
Cover artist: Uncredited

Yours for: $10


Best things about this cover:
  • The Saint, starring in ... a PSA about V.D.
  • Her shoes are amazing.
  • Her dress isn't bad either.
  • I like how they're both standing in their own little pools of light. It's not a dynamic painting, but it's got an ambiguity and tension and sexiness that I like.


Best things about this back cover:
  • "Gayest!"
  • Cows that wear diamonds? Oh, Europe. 
  • I always did like that little Saint icon.

Page 123~

"Just think of me," said the Saint, "as a guy with a weakness for puzzles, and an incorrigible asker of questions."


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Saturday, June 15, 2013

Paperback 661: The Cinnamon Murder / Frances Crane (Bantam 130)

Paperback 661: Bantam 130 (1st ptg, 1947)

Title: The Cinnamon Murder
Author: Frances Crane
Cover artist: Gillen

Yours for: $12


Best things about this cover:
  • Nooo! Not Cinnamon! She was our best pole dancer!
  • The space priestess kneeled to anoint the body—as The Hat commanded.
  • Warren Beatty in "Dick Tracy" called ... yeah, he's gonna need his jacket back.
  • Seriously, unless she's going to be hiding among taxis later, that dress is a bit much.


Best things about this back cover:
  • HA ha. The hat! — at least I think that's what that drawing by the "M" depicts; unless it's a very knobby hand holding a very stout wine glass. 
  • "The Pat Abbotts" sounds like a '50s folk music outfit.
  • "Her best John Frederics' hat"! O man, the hat is a character. There's a niche market: hat crime. It's like hate crime, only with a short 'a'.
  • I haven't read this, but I'm imagining a very low-rent Nick & Nora. And instead of Asta—a hat.

Page 123~

Mr. Couch's blue eyes rested on me and then, looking back at Patrick he said, "I'm afraid I'm being pretty frank."

Oh, sweet, sweet 'frank.' I've missed you.


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Friday, June 14, 2013

Paperback 660: The Plague of Sound / Con Steffanson (adapting Alex Raymond's story) (Avon 19166)

Paperback 660: Avon 19166 (PBO, 1974)

Title: The Plague of Sound (Flash Gordon 2)
Author: Con Steffanson (from orig. story by Alex Raymond)
Cover artist: G. Wilson

Yours for: $10


Best things about this cover:
  • "You call that a Bach organ fugue!? Argh, your sound plagues me! Get out of my space church, Redbeard!"
  • "It's OK, honey. You're safe now," he said, after bravely firing at nothing.
  • I proclaim that to be the thinnest shirt ever worn by man or beast.


Best things about this back cover:
  • Wow, that is one awesomely self-parodic damsel in distress. She's got the dramatic arms and the proud, heaving bosom and the blow-up doll mouth and everything.
  • That first paragraph may as well say: "First, a bunch of random shit happens..."
  • In the future, there will be sciences. Plural. Be there!

Page 123~

Sawtel's stunpistol flashed out of his tunic and quietly whirred.

Hmmm. Is that a whirring stunpistol in your tunic or are you just glad to see me?


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Thursday, June 13, 2013

Paperback 659: The French Key / Frank Gruber (Belmont B75-2040)

Paperback 659: Belmont B75-2040 (1st thus, 1970)

Title: The French Key
Author: Frank Gruber
Cover artist: Uncredited

Yours for: $6


Best things about this cover:
  • The Detective Had A Coin Torso! You'll Flip (!) For This Mystery!
  • I believe this font is called "hyper-serif."
  • See, here's the thing. There's really only one thing to say about this cover—more girl, less Captain Coin-Body.
  • Frank Gruber was a prolific writer for pulp and paperback market. This book was originally published in 1939.


Best things about this back cover:
  • Bah, the '60s continue to suck at all things book design.
  • To its credit, this cover does have NUMISMATISTS!!!
  • What will Johnny do with the blonde who says "I never tell the truth"? Careful, Johnny! It's a paradox!

Page 123~

Johnny dropped a coin on the counter and picked up a section of newspaper. He rolled the section of lead in the paper, gripped it at one end and smacked the other end into his palm.

The plumber grinned. "Oh, it's like that, huh?"

Dang. You do not want to disappoint Johnny with shoddy workmanship.


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Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Paperback 658: Père Goriot / Honoré de Balzac (Jacket Library nn)

Paperback 658: Jacket Library [not numbered] (1st ptg, 1932)

Title: Père Goriot ("An Exciting Story of Amorous Intrigue and Venial Sin")
Author: Honoré de Balzac
Cover artist: uncredited

Yours for: $6


Best things about this cover:

  • One of the most ridiculous attempts to sex up the classics I've ever seen. First: completely bury the actual title of the book in a microscopic font, and then, in the marquee position normally reserved for the title, put a misleadingly lurid description of the book ("An Exciting Story of Amorous Intrigue and Venial Sin"). Then—cue the Naked Lizard Lady!
  • The damage you see to the title area of the cover is due entirely to sticker pull—some jackass bookstore completely blocked out the sexy "title" with a sticker advertising their establishment. I worked very, very hard to get that damned thing off with minimal damage (yes, that's my version of "minimal").
  • This is the oldest paperback I own. Mass market paperbacks don't come into existence until the foundation of Pocket Books in 1939, but there were some earlier experimental paperback ventures, and this, apparently, was one of them. Jacket Library. 1932!

Instead of showing you the back cover (which has Nothing on it), I'll give you Jacket Library's mission statement and the book's title page:


Page 123~

Strong passions never miscalculate.


P.S. TCM is showcasing film noir all month long, every Friday night in June. Each week focuses on a different writer—last week featured a Hammett marathon, and this week we get movies based on work by David Goodis. So this Friday, at 10pm EST, I'll be watching this (Paperback 544):


I'll be live-tweeting commentary on the movie along with crime writer Christa Faust and anyone who wants to join in (#Nightfall).

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Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Paperback 657: The Red Badge of Courage / Stephen Crane (Pocket Books 154)

Paperback 657: Pocket Books 154 (5th ptg, 1951)

Title: The Red Badge of Courage
Author: Stephen Crane
Cover artist: John Alan Maxwell

Yours for: $12


Best things about this cover:
  • This book is weird. It's a 5th printing, 1951 paperback, but retains the look of a book from a decade earlier. Perhaps this is because this book is a "classic" or "literary" or whatever—which was the backbone of Pocket's catalogue in the early years, before they figured out, you know, sex sells.
  • This book is also in near-perfect condition. Square, bright, barely read. Always feels like a minor miracle to pull a 50- to 60-year old paperback off a shelf and see it so pristine.
  • I like how this guy's coming right at you. The tone of the whole painting is very (appropriately) ambiguous. All the storied elements of war (bombs bursting in air and what not) mixed with stumps and sad expressions and a very sickly sky.


Best things about this back cover:
  • Pretty straightforward. Nothing to see here.

Page 123~
The men stared with blank and yokel-like eyes at him. He was obliged to halt and retrace his steps. He stood then with his back to the enemy and delivered gigantic curses into the faces of the men. His body vibrated from the weight and force of his imprecations. And he could string oaths with the facility of a maiden who strings beads.
I'm getting really tired of all this hyper-competent writing. It's throwing me off my game.


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Monday, June 10, 2013

Paperback 656: Baton Twirling / Doris Wheelus (Warner 78-810)

Paperback 656: Warner Books 78-810 (1st ptg, 1975)

Title: Baton Twirling
Author: Doris Wheelus
Cover artist: photo cover (interior illustrations by Frank Bolle)

Yours for: [Not available—it's a heavily-annotated gift from my college best friend]


Best things about this cover:
  • Well she seems happy.
  • I assume this is a sex manual in metaphorical form. (For instance, replace "twirlers" with "swingers")
  • I always wondered how people learned to do this. Now I know.
  • That half-psychedilic font is kind of amazing.


Best things about this back cover:
  • "Do I!"

Pag 123~

Let inside of your boots or shoes dry thoroughly after each use so that the bacteria will not multiply.

And now, some illustrations:





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Sunday, June 9, 2013

Paperback 655: A House in Naples / Peter Rabe (Gold Medal k1337)

Paperback 655: Gold Medal k1337 (2nd ptg, 1963)

Title: A House in Naples
Author: Peter Rabe
Cover artist: Lu Kimmel

Yours for: $9


Best things about this cover: 
  • "Heh, I like to watch, heh heh."
  • She's like a soap actress looking off-stage to read her next line.
  • She appears to be kneeling on a twin bed that is in the middle of the room, dressed in some kind of summery get-up. None of this makes any sense. 
  • And here I always thought the "Spillane vein" was a euphemism for "penis."


Best things about this back cover:
  • Jeez, stamp more shit on it, why don't you? I didn't wanna read the text anyway.
  • First sentence of that fourth paragraph ("She was leaning...") was written by someone who should not be allowed anywhere near words.
  • Actually, I think an Italian-to-English translator-bot did this copy. It's just tin-eared and awful.  

Page 123~

Charley watched the yawl heel and take a close, steady course. He was sure the guy at the wheel was a Sardinian. They can handle a ship when they're half dead. 

Chapter-closing line. I quite like it.


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Saturday, June 8, 2013

Paperback 654: Virginia Woolf / Monique Nathan (Grove/Evergreen P34)

Paperback 654: Evergreen Profile Book P34 (PBO, 1961) (trans. from Fr.)

Title: Virginia Woolf
Author: Monique Nathan (trans. Herma Briffault)
Cover artist: photo cover

Yours for: $14


Best things about this cover:

  • I got this only because it seemed so unusual—a picture-heavy mass-market paperback bio of a major English author (and not a more likely subject for such a book, such as, say, Shaun Cassidy or Justin Bieber).
  • Then again, Grove Press was doing experimental, off-beat stuff all the time.
  • "Endpapers" are photos of waves.
  • There really are a shit-ton of b&w photos, and a short anthology of Woolf's work at the back.
  • Inscription: "For Kay from Mrs. Watson / 1964"; there's a whole novel right there.


Best things about this back cover:
  • Bah!

Page 123~

To find it good, lacking fame, to cloak oneself in proud solitude is not always merely a theatrical attitude. 


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Friday, June 7, 2013

Paperback 653: Lady Wu / Lin Yutang (Dell 4621)

Paperback 653: Dell 4621 (1st ptg, 1966)

Title: Lady Wu
Author: Lin Yutang
Cover artist: (Tom?) Miller

Yours for: $9


Best things about this cover:

  • Peach, it turns out, is not my favorite of book colors.
  • I love the painting, actually. I like the variation on the common "keyhole" cover. Very much implicates the reader as a voyeur. She's even looking at you semi-accusatorily / seductively. Scene itself is a bit staid, but it's still cool. Just wish it were *bigger* (stupid '60s book designers and their insistence on TEXT over cover art)
  • A Buddha statue is not enough for Lady Wu. She must also have live-action Buddha (who smokes?). Also, a male companion dressed like '80s Prince.


Best things about this back cover:
  • Ugh. Text.
  • Still, ugh. Text.

Page 123~

Unfortunately, the leaders of the rebellion were all scholars.


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Thursday, June 6, 2013

Paperback 652: Mystery on Graveyard Head / Edith Dorian (Berkley Books G-176)

Paperback 652: Berkley Books G-176 (1st ptg, 1958)

Title: Mystery on Graveyard Head
Author: Edith Dorian
Cover artist: Sternberg (?) (sig. not totally legible)

Yours for: $9


Best things about this cover:
  • I don't know what these kids were doing, but I'm guessing it has something to do with "graveyard head."
  • Fear hand! Or "I'm choking" hand, not sure. (see "graveyard head" joke, above)
  • You are *terrible* at hiding, Red.
  • Look, if you're gonna make out in a freshly-dug gave, maybe wear shoes?
  • The tree behind stalker-man is comically evil.


Best things about this back cover:
  • Wow, whatever 5th-grader wrote this cover copy is very talented. 
  • I used to perform magic under the name "The Mysterious Wiggins."
  • "A feeling of tense excitement mounts"! (see "graveyard head" joke, above)
Page 123~

The three on the steps grinned at them cheerfully. "Sit right down," Bart said heartily. "Kick off your shoes and take down your hair. Grab yourself a fistful of brownies. This is 'refugee hall'; a fat lady tramped on Sal's instep."

I was with you there til that bit at the end about the fat lady. Maybe ease up on the fistfuls of brownies, Bart.


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Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Paperback 651: Mystery Walks the Campus / Annette Turngren (Berkley Books G-158)

Paperback 651: Berkley Books G-158 (1st ptg, 1958)

Title: Mystery Walks the Campus
Author: Annette Turngren
Cover artist: Harry Schaare

Yours for: $6


Best things about this cover:
  • "Mystery" would be a pretty cool girl's name, come to think about it.
  • This is a great cover painting. No, really. It's clearly geared toward a female audience (i.e. the woman is  in serious student mode and decidedly non-tarted-up), so it doesn't have what we'd normally call "Great Girl Art (GGA)," but she's *really* well rendered. I love art that conveys tension through small movements, especially as those movements are captured in clothing. I'm mesmerized by her right foot, as well as the flow of her jacket and the wrinkles across the front of her skirt. Her environment is pure noir. All rain-slicked pavement and moonlight/streetlight. Good stuff.
  • This reminds me of a specific part of the U Michigan campus—specifically, where campus proper meets South U. Ave. But I'm guessing this also looks like about a million campuses.


Best things about this back cover:
  • Endicott! I live near there. 
  • You gotta love a mystery that turns on "the mutterings of a parakeet." I imagine the parakeet pacing in his cage, smoking and then occasionally saying something about what you can do with your desire to hear him "sing."
  • I like how excited the Christian Science Monitor is about addiction and compulsion.

Page 123~

They took a cab home, and Wendy tried hard to be pleasant—and sympathetic about the headache. But she had a feeling it was as non-existent as Sky's hay fever had been the night of the barbecue supper. Sometimes I'd like to shake her, she thought.

As if Sky's name alone isn't reason enough to want to shake her.


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Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Paperback 650: Hospital Hill / Adeline McElfresh (Dell First Edition B201)

Paperback 650: Dell First Edition B201 (PBO, 1961)

Title: Hospital Hill
Author: Adeline McElfresh
Cover artist: Bob Abbett

Yours for: $8


Best things about this cover:
  • Smoking doctor. Smoking car. Smoking lady friend. Like flying, being a doctor used to be so fucking glamorous.
  • I hate when reality shatters my dreams.
  • If there were a Hall of Fame for author names, I'd immediately induct Adeline McElfresh.


Best things about this back cover:
  • I like how the ellipsis makes it look like Doctor Chris Chiselface is thinking the whole thing.
  • I think the cover nicely captures his noble ideals (/sarcasm).

Page 123~
Old Mrs. Pearce was in the kitchen, nursing a steaming bowl filled with a greenish, pungent-smelling liquid. She greeted him with a sly smile.

"I reckon I'm catched," she wheezed.

Chris grinned. "I guess you are, Grandma."
Chris then shot her in the head for being a witch.


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Monday, June 3, 2013

Paperback 649: All-Pro Football Stars 1977 / Jerry Brondfield (Scholastic TK 3959)

Paperback 649: Scholastic TK 3959 (PBO? 1977)

Title: All-Pro Football Stars 1977
Author: Jerry Brondfield
Cover artist: photo cover

Yours for: $5


Best things about this cover:
  • Not sure why I own this. Must've been overcome by a wave of nostalgia for my earliest days of sports awareness. 1977 was pretty much the year that pro sports entered my consciousness, and I became a big sports (and stats) fan very quickly thereafter.


Best things about this back cover:
  • Nothing. I think the real reason I own this book must be the amazing interior photos—a dazzling array of mid-late''70s men's hair styles. In lieu of "Page 123," here are a few:




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Sunday, June 2, 2013

Paperback 648: Blue Ribbon Romance / Jane S. McIlvaine (Berkley G285)

Paperback 648: Berkley G285 (1st ptg, 1959)

Title: Blue Ribbon Romance
Author: Jane S. McIlvaine
Cover artist: Uncredited

Yours for: $7


Best things about this cover:

  • "Copper's Chance" makes this sound like an entirely different (and more interesting) book. I imagine that one or more coppers are chasing her because she robbed a bank or murdered a man.
  • I have no explanation for Half-Akimbo Jones there.
  • That is one hell of a jump. Kinda looks like they repurposed a drawing of a carousel horse.


Best things about this back cover:

  • A Girl! (go on ...) a Boy! (yes ... yes ... ) a Horse! (nope, you lost me)
  • Oh, her *name* is Copper. Much less interesting.
  • Stick with horse-racing, Copper! Fuck that Fowler Wankbridge guy!

Page 123~

"After madame," Fowler said, grinning at her, his eyes bluer than the ribbon clutched in Buck's waiting hand.

Seriously, he just called you (a 17-year-old girl) "madame." Kick him in the balls!


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