Lady Banks' Commonplace Book: the weekly newsletter for people interested in Southern literature, sponsored by booksellers who are members of the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance (SIBA) and featuring an overview of the literary news and events found on Authors 'Round the South.

 

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LADY BANKS COMMONPLACE BOOK
 
Week of July 11, 2019
 
>> IN THIS ISSUE
 
The Commonplace Book | Read This! | Okra Picks | Southern Indie Bestsellers | Events
 
 
{Ten books, plus one, that changed a life.}
 
In which Mr. David Sansing lived a wonderful life and no one minded when he proclaimed himself emperor, Ms. Andrea Bobotis talks about the ten books that changed her life, and sneaks in an extra one, and her ladyship, the editor, makes excuses not to mow her lawn.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

2019 Conroy Legacy Award 

Dearest Readers

"She read books as one would breathe air, to fill up and live." -- Annie Dillard

The Yellow HouseHer ladyship, the editor's lawn is quickly turning into a meadow, to much neighborly disapproval. She has explained to anyone who looks in askance that she has been defeated by the weather -- it has rained at some point nearly every day, and her ladyship's push mower, which is electric, will not run on wet grass.

She then retires, apologetically, to the shaded part of her porch with a glass of iced tea and a book, and enjoys the clouds of dragonflies she has in abundance, and the three pairs of hummingbirds that zoom among them. She is considering pretending that her lawnmower has stopped working for the rest of the summer.

The book in her hand at the moment is Sarah Broom's The Yellow House, due out next month. It is one of those memoirs, on the surface about a growing family living in a deteriorating house, that turns out to be about so much more...about New Orleans, and race, and "The Water," and the relentless pressure of poverty, and also about spirit and what we mean when we call a place "home."

More books to look forward to:

After the Flood Layla's Happiness Dominicana 
Hungry Jim
 She's the WorstAmerican Royals 

After the Flood (September, 2019)
"The issues of trust, family and loss were powerfully drawn and made for riveting read!" -- Stephanie Crowe, Page & Palette, Fairhope, AL

Layla's Happiness (September, 2019)
"This story of family, community, love & happiness reads beautifully and leads to wonderful, important conversations"-- Cristina Russell, Books and Books, Coral Gables, FL

Dominicana (September, 2019)
"Dominicana offers a wonderful glimpse into the universal story of risks and love and the powerful pull of family and traditions." --Laura Taylor, Oxford Exchange, Tampa, FL

Hungry Jim (September, 2019)
"A little bit WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE, a little bit MR. TIGER GOES WILD, but wholly it's own" -- Hannah DeCamp, Avid Bookshop, Athens, GA

She's the Worst (September, 2019)
"a sweet, fun book about sisterhood" -- Jennifer Jones, Bookmiser, Roswell, GA

American Royals (September, 2019)
"American Royals has the juiciness of Gossip Girl with the excitement of Princess Diaries." -- Deanna Bailey, Story on the Square, McDonough, GA

 

Read independently, and shop local.

 
 
her ladyship, the editar
her ladyship, the editor
 
 
 
 
Lady Banks' Pick of the Week
 
 
 
Lady Banks' Commonplace Book
 
Excerpted noteworthy poetry and prose from her ladyship's bedside reading stack.
 

May 1989

 

The Last List of Miss Judith KrattWhenever I hear a train’s horn in the distance, that bruised sound, I think of Quincy. He spent half his days down at the depot, true enough, but it’s the nature of the sound that reminds me of him, how it’s at once familiar and remote. How upon hearing it, I feel obliged to lift my gaze and weigh the horizon, but how it leaves me with less than I had before, eyes reaching toward something I’ll never see. After all, where that train’s headed, stretching across some unseen field, is anybody’s guess. Same could always be said of my brother.

That afternoon, the train’s horn made me wonder: What would remind my brother of me? I thought it might be a good question for Olva, who was sitting with me in the sunroom, both of us warming our old bones, I on the cushioned seat and she the uncushioned (her preference), our feet sharing the wicker ottoman so that, now and again, my foot accidentally nudged hers. The sound of that faraway train settled in my ear like a teaspoon of water, but Olva, eyes closed, was humming a cheery little something, and every few bars, a smile surfaced on her face.

 

Meet the author:

 

--Andrea Bobotis, The Last List of Miss Judith Kratt (Sourcebooks Landmark, 2019)

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Andrea Bobotis: 10 Books That Changed My Life
 

MiddlemarchTo the LighthouseThe WavesThe Complete PoemsRemains of the Day
GileadElizabeth StroutCall of the Wild and White FangCold MountainUnderground Railroad

Middlemarch by George Eliot
At heart, I’m a Victorianist. Give me a baggy nineteenth-century British novel any day. This classic taught me how to apply a sympathetic imagination to characters (and people), even the loathsome ones.

To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf
The emotional eloquence of this novel can’t be overstated. I learned how to grieve from Woolf’s masterpiece.

The Waves by Virginia Woolf
When I started to write seriously, in my twenties, I was writing poetry exclusively, but I had the itch to write fiction. Woolf’s book, with its extended and evocative descriptions of light and shadow, showed me that I didn’t have to choose between the two genres.

The Complete Poems: 1927-1979 by Elizabeth Bishop
Bishop’s poems are dazzling in their range. Bishop evokes a guarded woundedness while electrifying us with her formal stamina. Her poem “The Filling Station” taught me more than most novels have about how to work with narrative voice.

The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro
This novel sparked my enduring love of first-person narration. Ishiguro masterfully employs the mechanics of first person so that the narrative itself teaches us how to read Stevens, the voice guiding us through the novel.

Gilead by Marilynne Robinson
For me, this novel is tied with Robinson’s Housekeeping, but my mind drifts to Gilead again and again because of its first-person narrator, Reverend John Ames. This was the first novel I read in which I fully understood that, while villains might be fascinating and instructive, there is much to be gained by following the path of a virtuous mind.  

Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout
In this book, in all her books, Strout showed me it was possible to elevate characterization to a form of grace. Her scrupulously observed details about her characters reveal her deep and abiding compassion for them.  

The Call of the Wild and White Fang by Jack London
As I child, I loved adventure tales. These two London books were childhood favorites. I wanted to live inside of them, to be those characters, human and animal alike. These books marked the first time I understood how transporting literature could be.

Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier
About every month or so, I think about the moment when Ada Monroe scoops her two fingers into a jar of blackberry jam and dips them into her mouth. And while Frazier’s use of language is captivating and swoon-worthy (he might just be a genius with metaphor), I admire how the novel is also suspicious of its own luscious language, how words can paper over violence.

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
This novel has most recently changed the way I look at both fiction and the world around me. I’m still processing its brilliance, especially the reach of the book’s narrative voice, in which allegory and realism coexist and the sweep of history makes room for the intimate. Whitehead has such formal command of his novel that his gorgeous prose doesn’t mitigate the horrors of slavery, but instead sears that horror onto the page.


Andrea BobotisAndrea BobotisAndrea Bobotis was born and raised in South Carolina and received her PhD in English Literature from the University of Virginia. Her fiction has received awards from the Raymond Carver Short Story Contest and the James Jones First Novel Fellowship, and her essays on Irish writers have appeared in journals such as Victorian Studies and the Irish University Review. She lives with her family in Denver, Colorado, where she teaches creative writing at Lighthouse Writers Workshop. The Last List of Miss Judith Kratt is her debut novel.
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Read This! Books with Street Cred
 
Recommended reading from Southern Indie Booksellers


The Plus One by Sarah Archer
Kelly is a successful robotics engineer who is unlucky in love, much to her family's chagrin. She's proud of her master's degree and her prestigious job but her parents and sister would like nothing more than for her to meet a nice man to bring to her sister's upcoming wedding. Kelly can't take the family pressure and builds Ethan, the perfect man - the only exception is that he's a robot. She grows attached to Ethan fast and as the wedding approaches, she wonders how she'll be able to say goodbye once it's over. Or does she have to?

This is a fun, original romance really caught me up in the story. The idea is a little silly but it's so endearing I couldn't resist but rooting for the characters and hoping for a happy ending for Kelly.

The Plus One by Sarah Archer ($16.00*, G.P. Putnam's Sons), recommended by Fountain Books, Richmond, VA.


The Substitution Order by Martin ClarkMartin Clark's newest novel is a great summer read, fast moving with interesting characters and recognizable settings for those in a particular part of southwestern Virginia. In the book attorney Kevin Moore find himself in squeezed between a shady land-deal set-up and his need to redeem himself for earlier missteps. His already lost his wife, his home, his license and everything else he'd worked for. But he's determined to get as much of that back as he can. And he's willing to use every legal (and a couple of not so legal) tricks to get there.

Clark's characters are funny and familiar without becoming cliches. He faces his complicated legal situation while battling an irrational health insurance company and an overly enthusiastic dog. While watching is wife fade from his life, he's grabbing at budding romance.

Readers will feel sorry for Kevin less from his every more complicated troubles than because he's determined not to feel sorry for himself. You'll laugh out loud at Kevin's problems because they could so easily be our own. And with luck ours will tied up neatly in the end too.

The Substitution Order by Martin Clark ($27.95*, Knopf), recommended by Book No Further, Roanoke, VA.

 A Summer 2019 Okra Pick



Late Migrations by Margaret Renkl
Late Migrations is a gorgeous, somber treasure of a book. Death and its many forms permeate Margaret Renkl’s meditative work; from the death of her father to the death of a small bird in the road, grief is a constant companion throughout these pages. But the sorrow never becomes overwhelming; in fact, each passage takes on a unique, bittersweet wisdom that can only be gained by experiencing loss. Renkl’s part memoir, part nature writing, and part essay collection is a such a unique reading experience, and one I will remember and recommend for many years to come.

Late Migrations by Margaret Renkl ($24.00*, Milkweed Editions), recommended by Bookmarks, Winston-Salem, NC.

 A Summer 2019 Okra Pick

 
More bookseller recommendations

 

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Gossip

 

News of a literary nature

The Other Mississippi"One Friday night, all end zoners gathered at the now-gone-but-never-forgotten Hoka theatre and restaurant for a pep rally for the next day’s game. They decided to elect officers. Sansing, beloved by all, was elected president, unanimously. Sansing’s first (and perhaps only) official act was to declare himself emperor. And he was. For life."9781936946396

keep reading: David Sansing, esteemed historian, who lived a most wonderful life and knew it

 

The Home Place"Listening to Drew Lanham is like standing in a field and hearing the sounds of nature wash over you. Lanham grew up in the country in South Carolina and fell in love with watching birds. Eventually, he turned that love into his career."9781571313508

keep reading: On Birding While Black

 

 

Appalachian Reckoning"And what images does Appalachia bring to mind? Depression photographs of skinny kids in overalls? Corn bread? Coal mines? Country music? Moonshine? Dollywood? The tattooed crew on the vibrant streets of Asheville? The Biltmore House? Trailer parks? Mountain streams and hiking trails in the heart of the Smokies?"

keep reading: Who Speaks for Appalachia?

 

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The Okra Picks: The Summer Season

 

Southern Independent booksellers have chosen the 2019 Summer Okra Picks – a collection of the best forthcoming Southern books of the season. Add a bit of tasty reading to your literary diet. Serve yourself a helping of Okra Picks.

 

"Such beautifully crafted characters! The historical details were folded into the narrative expertly. Judith was certainly a creature of her time and place, but she was also more than that. As we come to know the other members of her family, we live the history of her town. It's the story of so many mill towns in the South following the turn of the 20th Century. Boom and bust, slow progress and Jim Crow. The books ends on a hopeful note, which I appreciate immensely. Bobotis looks at difficult issues without despair." —Angela Schroeder, Sunrise Books, High Point, NC


The Last List of Miss Judith Kratt by Andrea Bobotis

Judith inherited all the Kratt family had to offer -- the pie safe, the copper clock, the murder that no one talked about. She's presided over the house quite well, thank you very much, admittedly with some help from her companion, Olva.

But her wayward younger sister suddenly returns home after decades, sparking an inventory of all that belongs to them. Set in the hard-luck cotton town of Bound, South Carolina -- which the Kratts used to rule but which now struggles to contain its worst instincts -- the new household overflows with memories.

Interweaving the present with chilling flashbacks from one fateful evening in 1929, Judith pieces together a list of what matters. Untangling the legacy of the family misfortunes will require help from every one of them, no matter how tight their bond, how long they've called Bound home, or what they own.

Sourcebooks Landmark | Sourcebooks Landmark | 7/9/2019

 

Read the first chapter

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Southern Indie Bestsellers
 

For the week ending July 7. Books on the Southern Indie Bestseller List that are southern in nature or have been recently recommended by southern indie booksellers.

 

Southern Indie Bestsellers

 
See the full list here.
The Southern Book Prize | A SIBA Okra Pick
Special to the Southern List | Read This Next!
Printable versions (PDF): Hardcover | Paperback | Children's
 
 
 
HARDCOVER FICTION
 

1. Where the Crawdads Sing
Delia Owens, Putnam, $26, 9780735219090
2. City of Girls
Elizabeth Gilbert, Riverhead Books, $28, 9781594634734
3. On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous
Ocean Vuong, Penguin Press, $26, 9780525562023
4. Summer of '69
Elin Hilderbrand, Little Brown, $28, 9780316420013
5. Normal People
Sally Rooney, Hogarth, $26, 9781984822178

 
HARDCOVER NONFICTION
 
1. Educated
Tara Westover, Random House, $28, 9780399590504
2. The Pioneers
David McCullough, S&S, $30, 9781501168680
3. Becoming
Michelle Obama, Crown, $32.50, 9781524763138
4. The British Are Coming
Rick Atkinson, Holt, $40, 9781627790437
5. The Subtle Art of Not Giving A F*ck
Mark Manson, Harper, $24.99, 9780062457714
 
Special to the Southern List
 

Orange World and Other Stories  Karen Russell, Knopf, $25.95, 9780525656135  Red, White & Royal Blue Casey McQuiston, St. Martin's Griffin, $16.99, My Twenty-five Years in Provence Peter Mayle, Vintage, $16, Everything Happens for a Reason: And Other Lies I've Loved Kate Bowler, Random House, $16, 

 
 
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Events
 
What's happening at Southern Indies across the South?
 
See the full calendar | Find a Southern Indie Bookstore near you.
 

Sandra G. Gutierrez  (author appearance)
Sandra G. Gutierrez | 07/12/2019, 06:30 pm | Books & Books, Inc. | Coral Gables, FL

Bruno M. Baltodano  (author appearance)
Bruno M. | 07/12/2019, 08:00 pm | Books & Books, Inc. | Coral Gables, FL

Paul Doiron Booksigning  (author appearance)
Paul Doiron | 07/12/2019, 07:00 pm | Murder on the Beach Mystery Bookstore | Delray Beach, FL

Brent Martin’s Essay Collection  (author appearance)
Brent Martin | 07/12/2019, 06:30 pm | City Lights Bookstore | Sylva, NC

Special Children’s Storytime with Matt Myers, Humm and Swish  (author appearance)
Matt Myers | 07/12/2019, 10:30 am | McIntyre's Books | Pittsboro, NC

Steven Epstein, Murder on Birchleaf Drive: The True Story of the Michelle Young Murder Case  (author appearance)
Steven Epstein | 07/12/2019, 02:00 pm | McIntyre's Books | Pittsboro, NC

Beatriz Williams Author of The Golden Hour  (author appearance)
Beatriz Williams | 07/12/2019, 11:00 am | Litchfield Books | Pawleys Island, SC

Late Migrations by Margaret Renkl  (author appearance)
Margaret Renkl | 07/12/2019, 06:00 pm | Union Avenue Books | Knoxville, TN

Robin Traywick Williams  (author appearance)
Robin Traywick Williams | 07/12/2019, 08:00 pm | New Dominion Bookshop | Virginia, VA

Sean Dietrich - Stars of Alabama  (author appearance)
Sean Dietrich | 07/13/2019, 06:00 pm | Page & Palette | Fairhope, AL

Jasamine Hill  (author appearance)
Jasamine Hill | 07/13/2019, 02:00 pm | Tall Tales Atlanta | Atlanta, GA

Kathryn Kirkpatrick’s Poetry Collection  (author appearance)
Kathryn Kirkpatrick | 07/13/2019, 03:00 pm | City Lights Bookstore | Sylva, NC

Regina Porter, The Travelers  (author appearance)
Regina Porter | 07/13/2019, 11:00 am | McIntyre's Books | Pittsboro, NC

Abbot Granoff at Prince Books  (author appearance)
Abbot Granoff | 07/13/2019, 03:00 pm | Prince Books | Norfolk, VA

Agnes Gomillion - THE RECORD KEEPER  (author appearance)
Agnes Gomillion | 07/14/2019, 02:00 pm | Octavia Books | New Orleans, LA

Brent Martin presents The Changing Blue Ridge Mountains: Essays on Journeys Past and Present  (author appearance)
Brent Martin | 07/14/2019, 03:00 pm | Malaprop's Bookstore & Cafe | Asheville, NC

Cooking School: Celebration of Summer Tomatoes with Sheri Castle  (author appearance)
Sheri Castle | 07/14/2019, 03:00 pm | McIntyre's Books | Pittsboro, NC

In Conversation with Granville Wyche Burgess   (author appearance)
Granville Wyche | 07/14/2019, 02:00 pm | M. Judson Booksellers | Greenville, SC

Linda Carol Cobb at Prince Books  (author appearance)
Linda Carol Cobb | 07/14/2019, 03:00 pm | Prince Books | Norfolk, VA

Author Event: Jonathan F. Putnam  (author appearance)
Jonathan F. Putnam | 07/15/2019, 07:00 pm | Page 158 Books | Wake Forest, NC

Author event with Derek Evans author of Made to Change the World  (author appearance)
Derek Evans | 07/15/2019, 06:30 pm | Parnassus Books | Nashville, TN

A Seat in the Shade with Jericho Brown  (author appearance)
Jericho Brown | 07/16/2019, 05:30 pm | Avid Bookshop | Athens, GA

Jessica Handler Debut Novel  (author appearance)
Jessica Handler | 07/16/2019, 06:30 pm | City Lights Bookstore | Sylva, NC

Jennifer Pastiloff presents On Being Human: A Memoir of Waking Up, Living Real, and Listening Hard  (author appearance)
Jennifer Pastiloff | 07/16/2019, 06:00 pm | Malaprop's Bookstore & Cafe | Asheville, NC

Max L. Carter & M. Gertrude Beal, Tales from the New Garden Friends Graveyard  (author appearance)
Max L. | 07/16/2019, 07:00 pm | Scuppernong Books | Greensboro, NC

Andrea Bobotis  (author appearance)
Andrea Bobotis | 07/16/2019, 11:00 am | Litchfield Books | Pawleys Island, SC

Book and a Beer with David Joy and Ace Atkins  (author appearance)
David Joy | 07/16/2019, 07:00 pm | M. Judson Booksellers | Greenville, SC

Author event with Scott Hylbert author of Task Lyst  (author appearance)
Scott Hylbert | 07/16/2019, 06:30 pm | Parnassus Books | Nashville, TN

Simon Tam: An Evening of Music and Discussion  (author appearance)
Simon Tam | 07/16/2019, 06:30 pm | Star Line Books | Chattanooga, TN

An Evening With Author/Activist Andy Parker   (author appearance)
Andy Parker | 07/16/2019, 06:30 pm | Fountain Bookstore | Richmond, VA

Reception with Ernie Dumas  (author appearance)
Ernie Dumas | 07/17/2019, 05:30 pm | Wordsworth Bookstore | Little Rock, AR

Scott Huler presents A Delicious Country: Rediscovering the Carolinas Along the Route of John Lawson's 1700 Expedition  (author appearance)
Scott Huler | 07/17/2019, 06:00 pm | Malaprop's Bookstore & Cafe | Asheville, NC

Story Time with Matt Myers  (author appearance)
Matt Myers | 07/17/2019, 12:00 pm | Page 158 Books | Wake Forest, NC

Martin Clark presents Substitution Order--Live Podcast with Charlotte Readers Podcast  (author appearance)
Martin Clark | 07/17/2019, 07:00 pm | Park Road Books | Charlotte, NC

Christopher Ruocchio - Howling Dark  (author appearance)
Christopher Ruocchio | 07/17/2019, 07:00 pm | Quail Ridge Books | Raleigh, NC

Bruce Brodie, Why Are We Here?  (author appearance)
Bruce Brodie | 07/17/2019, 06:00 pm | Scuppernong Books | Greensboro, NC

Jonathan Putnam - A House Divided (A Lincoln and Speed Mystery)  (author appearance)
Jonathan Putnam | 07/17/2019, 05:00 pm | The Country Bookshop | Southern Pines, NC

Author event with John Larison author of Whisky When We're Dry  (author appearance)
John Larison | 07/17/2019, 06:30 pm | Parnassus Books | Nashville, TN

Maxine Pinson Easom & Patsy Hawkins Arnold: ACROSS THE RIVER  (author appearance)
Maxine Pinson | 07/18/2019, 06:30 pm | Avid Bookshop | Athens, GA

Using The Plants And Trees of the Cherokee  (author appearance)
Mark Warren | 07/18/2019, 07:00 pm | Eagle Eye Book Shop | Decatur, GA

Cliterati Open Mic: featuring Atlanta's Youth Poet Laureate Ogechi N. Ofodu  (author appearance)
Ogechi N. | 07/18/2019, 07:30 pm | Charis Books and More | Decatur, GA

J.S. Breukelaar, author of Collision: Stories, Aletheia and American Monster  (author appearance)
J.S. Breukelaar | 07/18/2019, 06:00 pm | Firestorm Books & Coffee | Asheville, NC

Dual Author Event with Ace Atkins and David Joy  (author appearance)
David Joy | 07/18/2019, 06:00 pm | Malaprop's Bookstore & Cafe | Asheville, NC

Dori Ann Dupre presents Good Buddy  (author appearance)
Dori Ann | 07/18/2019, 07:00 pm | Park Road Books | Charlotte, NC

Martin Clark, The Substitution Order  (author appearance)
Martin Clark | 07/18/2019, 07:00 pm | Scuppernong Books | Greensboro, NC

Andrea Bobotis  (author appearance)
07/18/2019, 06:00 pm | Fiction Addiction | Greenville, SC

Literary Luncheon with Jonathan Putnam  (author appearance)
Jonathan Putnam | 07/18/2019, 12:00 pm | Hub City Books | Spartanburg, SC

Shared Word Event with Rory Power and Megan Shepherd   (author appearance)
Rory Power | 07/18/2019, 07:00 pm | M. Judson Booksellers | Greenville, SC

An Evening with Erica Witsell  (author appearance)
Erica Witsell | 07/18/2019, 06:30 pm | Star Line Books | Chattanooga, TN

Humorist Andrew Shaffer Returns with His Newest Obama/Biden Mystery!  (author appearance)
Andrew Shaffer | 07/18/2019, 06:30 pm | Fountain Bookstore | Richmond, VA

Storytime with Matt Myers - Hum and Swish  (author appearance)
Matt Myers | 07/19/2019, 10:30 am | The Country Bookshop | Southern Pines, NC

Thomas Mallon Author of Landfall  (author appearance)
Thomas Mallon | 07/19/2019, 11:00 am | Litchfield Books | Pawleys Island, SC

Moon Landing Celebration with Children's Authors  (author appearance)
Kristy Dempsey | 7/14/2019, 3:00 PM | Bookmarks | Winston-Salem, NC

Summer Book Club Social  (author appearance)
7/15/2019, 7:00 PM | Bookmarks | Winston-Salem, NC

 
Authors Round the South | www.authorsroundthesouth.com
 
 
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Lady Banks is sponsored by the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance, in support of independent bookstores in the South | SIBA | 51 Pleasant Ridge Dr.| Asheville, NC 28805
 
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