#bookaday day one childhood book

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Well I was asked to take part in this twitter meme and have decided expand it to a month in the blog as well so here is day one a childhood book .I loved The Hobbit when I read it must been ten or eleven it was a book that took me into another world of misty woods ,dragons ,hobbits ,dwarves and Gollum .Now my copy fell apart years ago so this is my younger brothers copy I borrowed of him a few years ago oops (he may want it back ) lol
What was your childhood favourite ?

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Mission London by Alek Popov

missioon London Cover Alek Popov

Mission London by Alek Popov

Bulgarian Fiction

Original title –  Мисия Лондон

Translators – Daniella and Charles Gill de Mayol de Lupe

Source – Review copy

Why, why, why? Because it’s all logic and reason now! Science, progress, chip-chip… Laws of hydraulics, laws of social dynamics, laws of this, that and the other… No place for three legged Cyclops in the South Seas… no place for cucumber trees and oceans of vine… no place for me!

From Quote NET baron Munchausen

Susan at Istros books is doing a great job bring wonderful new books from the Balkans and surrounding regions ,here she has brought us Alek Popov a rising star of Bulgarian fiction ,Alek Popov he got a degree in Bulrgrian Philology from Sofia university , he has worked as an editor ,also as cultural attaché to the Bulgarian embassy in London for a time .He has written 11 novels and was elected to the Bulgarian academy in 2012 for creative arts .Mission London is his first novel to be translated to English and is also a successful film .

“Your Excellency !” Robert Ziebling exclaimed , from the very threshold of this office .”I cannot begin to express how delighted I was to receive this invitation ”

The managing director of famous connections seized the Ambassador’s hands and proceeded to shake it fiercely .

The dodgy Pr man meets Varadin

So Mission London follows the new Ambassador at the Bulgarian embassy , this guy  Varadin has been thrust from nowhere really to this prestigious job as a stepping stone for a bigger political career   .Now the problem is he has some hard tasks to try to do for his bosses back home ,The wife of the current prime minister wants to meet the queen for a banquet .This leads him to a dodgy pr firm ,he meets a Princess Diana double  Katya ,whom he employs first as a cleaner then when he discovers she is the Diana double things take quite a strange twist for her and Varadin .Then there is the hunt for food for the meal ,the chef he wants swans but through a Russian Mafia connection ends up with ducks stolen from the royal park that the police can track .Add to this the keeper of the ducks ,Russian Mafia bosses and a fake queen .A story that will have you laughing and cringing at Varadin’s  life in London .

Dale pulled out his mobile and called Ray Solo head of security

“Ray ” he said weakly ,”I’ve cause to believe something terrible has happened …”

“Whats wrong ?” Ray’s voice sound stressed .

“My ducks have disappeared ” sobbed Dale “My little duclings !”

The ducks are stolen from the Royal Richmond Pond to go in the ovens at the Embassy .

Now I loved this one it was a book I started put to one side and then Last weekend decide to start again and read it in a couple of sittings especially after watching the trailer for the film .As you see in the trailer the book is rather like A Bulgarian take on a guy richie film ,multiple plot-lines ,bending the real world just enough that it is absurd but believable .It also is a remind of the Humour in Bulgarian lit  ,I have come across before in the other book from Bulgaria I have reviewed here circus Bulgaria by Deyan Enev , a dark mix of satire and black humour that is similar in this book .If you like the greats of British Political satire television you will love this book it is one of those books that every turn sees another disaster around the corner another near miss  .Another gem from Istros books .here is the trailer for the film .

Have you a favourite Bulgarian read ?

Under the Channel by Gilles Pétel

under the channel

Under the Channel by Gilles Pétel

French Crime fiction

Original title – Sous la manche

Translators – Emily Boyce and Jane Aitken

Source – Review copy

Our Saviour. Two thieves. One is supposed to have been saved and the other (he searches for the contrary of saved) damned.”
– Samuel Beckett, Waiting for Godot via CLASSIC LIT 

 

Gilles Pétel was born and brought up in Dunkirk , he studied Philosophy at the University of Nice , he then taught abroad for a number of year .He wrote his first book in 1996 ,this is his fifth novel and the first to be translated to English .He has taught in London during the Financial crisis working at a French school in London .

Roland really couldn’t face an argument tonight .He had only just left a crime scene .No matter how used he was to seeing dead bodies ,they still left him shaken, and he wasn’t prepared for coming home to a fight .

Roland and his wife are struggling when we first meet him in the book .

Well the  story of this book is in the Title a man is murdered Under the Channel ,the man John Bunny a Forty five year old Scottish man living in London working as an estate agent ,arrives on the Eurostar at Paris and is found dead .So the case of his death is given to Roland Desfeuilleres  A Forty year old married with kids ,his life is at a bit of a crossroads when he is given this case and goes to London to discover more about John Bunny and his life in London .But in doing so he maybe discovers that his life could of being something else with at first being wow by this man’s wonderful life in London ,but then he sees the flaws in it and what may have led to his death and also maybe learns something about his own life .

The doctor uncovered John Burny’s naked body , as the lieutenant looked impatiently on .Then he exclaimed :

“He’s in great shape ! how old did you say he was ?”

“forty-five ”

The victim looked younger than Desfeuilleres, although he was five years older .In spite of himself desfeuilleres felt envious ,jealous even ,hardly an appropriate reaction to the sight of the unfortunate man .

Roland sees John and maybe wants to see how this older man looked so much better than him .

Well this book is rather like a couple of series that have been on TV in recent year the bridge and the Tunnel ,what happens when a body is discovered or killed midway between two countries ,unlike those it is also a story of two men One alive and One dead .I felt the philosophy  that Gilles ,had studied in some way as these two men John and Roland ,so close in age yet so different in the own lives enter each others lives ,Roland will learn a lot from this journey to London  ,about himself , the modern world of money and power in the world and also what one man will give up to be on top in that world .Also it is a reminder of how great crime novels on trains or about trains can be ,from Murder on the orient express , through strangers on a train ,the edge by Dick Francis .As a train brings together people on a journey  that aren’t meant to know each other and 750 people in a eurostar it is a great place to try and hide a crime  or as here a murder .A clever book about two different lives colliding and neither being the same after .

Have you a favourite French crime novel

Who’s going to win the Independent foreign fiction prize 2014

Well the shadow Jury announced their winner yesterday it was Sorrow of Angels ,one that missed the real shortlist .So as you read this I’m on a train heading to the Bg smoke as I was grateful to be invited to the 2014 award night for the Independent foreign fiction prize 2014 .Tony did his round-up and thought on the shortlist and whom he thought would win .So I decide to be rather fun and go for an if this book was a footballer post for fun  and whom I’d think will win .So here are the books from the shortlist .

The Iraqi Christ by Hassan Blassim

download (1)

A collection of short stories , brutal at times and surreal at others .

My review  

If the book was a player it be Younis Mahmoud ,I struggled to find a Iraqi that had played in the Uk there is one that had been at Spurs but hadn’t played for them ,so I cast my net further afield and found Younis Mahmoud one the most capped Iraqi ,players watching a couple of you tube clips ,rather like the book Younis remind me of a classic old fashion centre forward rather like Hassan prose remind me of classic short story writers .

A Man in Love by Karl Ove Knausgaard

A man in Love

The second in the six book stgory of Karl Ove life seems him coping with early adulthood and becoming a father .

My review 

If this book was a player ,well one struck me straight away and that was the baby face assassin Ole Gunnar  Solskjær .As a united fan ,he is a player rather like Karl Ove made an impact straight away when he usually came of the bench like when we won the champions league .A folk hero character ,rather like Karl Ove that has his own mythology around him .

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tsNLo_a65sY

Strange weather in Tokyo by Hiromi Kawkami

the briefcase

A may to december story of a former Pupil and her former teacher fall in love in a sort of shared loneliness  ,I ve chosen the US cover as this was the book I read

My review 

Now if this book was a player ,I’ve picked Shinji Kagawa ,the player who United brought from Dortmund ,he has yet to fit fully into the team but has shown flashes of brilliance at times and what is to come and that is like this book flashes of great thing to come from the writer .

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vb4XN4R6YCE

A meal in winter by Hubert Mingarelli

a-meal-in-winter

Two soldiers , a Jewish man and a Pole stuck in a room sort of microcosm of the war share an evening as the snow traps them .

My review  

Well I initially thought of King Eric but actually settled for Laurent Blanc , he had a cameo at united and rather like this book we hoped to have seen more of him like we hope to see more of Mingarelli .

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MslBpe0CcSY

Revenge by Yoko Ogawa

revenge by Yoko Ogawa

A collection of dark interlink through motifs stories from a master of the short story form .

My review 

Hidetoshi Nakata is the player I imagine for this book a clever midfield that broke out of Asian football and played in Italy for a number of seasons .Like the book Nakata was a player you just loved to watch playing for his silky skills like Ogawa writing is one I love reading .

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N-6kuuV19Hs

The Mussel feast by Brigit Vanderbeke

the mussel feast

A family have cook a favourite meal of the absent father a book set just as the wall is falling in Berlin .

My review 

Well when I thought of this rather mad post ,this is the first player I thought of Matthias Sammer as one of the first East germans to player for the unified german team Sammer was amazing he was a commanding defender and sweeper that controlled games ,but had to retire early due to injury and maybe like this book as I’ve said what differenece would it have made coming out at the time ,what did we miss from Sammer due to that injury .

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gbd2yehoD1g

SO for me its between Mussl feast or A man in love to win ,I can not seperate those two and another is in with a chance which you may guess .Who do you fancy winning this year ?

 

The winner of the Shadow IFFP 2014

In 2014, for the third year in a row, Chairman Stu gathered together a group of brave bloggers to tackle the task of shadowing the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize. It’s not a task for the faint of heart – in addition to having to second-guess the strange decisions of the ‘real’ panel, the foolhardy volunteers undertook a voyage around the literary world, all in a matter of months…

On our journey around the globe, we started off by eavesdropping on some private conversations in Madrid, before narrowly avoiding trouble with the locals in Naples. A quick flight northwards, and we were in Iceland, traipsing over the snowy mountains and driving around the iconic ring road – with a child in tow. Then it was time to head south to Sweden and Norway, where we had a few drinks (and a lot of soul searching) with a man who tended to talk about himself a lot.

Next, it was off to Germany, where we almost had mussels for dinner, before spending some time with an unusual family on the other side of the wall. After another brief bite to eat in Poland, we headed eastwards to reminisce with some old friends in Russia – unfortunately, the weather wasn’t getting any better.

We finally left the snow and ice behind, only to be welcomed in Baghdad by guns and bombs. Nevertheless, we stayed there long enough to learn a little about the customs involved in washing the dead, and by the time we got to Jerusalem, we were starting to have a bit of an identity crisis…

Still, we pressed on, taking a watery route through China to avoid the keen eye of the family planning officials, finally making it across the sea to Japan. Having arrived in Tokyo just in time to witness a series of bizarre ‘accidents’, we rounded off the trip by going for a drink (or twelve) at a local bar with a strangely well-matched couple – and then it was time to come home 🙂

Of course, there was a method to all this madness, as our journey helped us to eliminate all the pretenders and identify this year’s cream of the crop. And the end result? This year’s winner of the Shadow Independent Foreign Fiction Prize is:

SOrrow of angels

The Sorrow of Angels by Jón Kalman Stefánsson
(translated by Philip Roughton, published by MacLehose Press)

This was a very popular (and almost unanimous) winner, a novel which stood out amongst a great collection of books. We all loved the beautiful, poetic prose, and the developing relationship between the two main characters – the taciturn giant, Jens, and the curious, talkative boy – was excellently written. Well done to all involved with the book – writer, translator, publisher and everyone else 🙂

Some final thoughts to leave you with…

– Our six judges read a total of 83 books (an average of almost fourteen per person), and ten of the books were read and reviewed by all six of us.
– This was our third year of shadowing the prize and the third time in a row that we’ve chosen a different winner to the ‘experts’.
– After the 2012 Shadow Winner (Sjón’s From the Mouth of the Whale), that makes it two wins out of three for Iceland – Til hamingju!
– There is something new about this year’s verdict – it’s the first time we’ve chosen a winner which didn’t even make the ‘real’ shortlist…

Stu, Tony, Jacqui, David, Bellezza and Tony would like to thank everyone out there for all their interest and support over the past few months – rest assured we’re keen to do it all over again next year 🙂

A few thoughts from me ,I have loved hosting this year as everyone has made a real effort to read all the books and 83 reviews out there is a great acheivement and wonderful way to promote the IFFP to a wider readership .

Chewing gum by Mansour Bushnaf

ChewingGum

Chewing gum by Mansour Bushnaf

Libyan fiction

Source review copy

“No matter how much time passes, no matter what takes place in the interim, there are some things we can never assign to oblivion, memories we can never rub away.”
― Haruki Murakami, Kafka on the Shore via goodreads

 

Mansour Bushnaf is a well-known figure in Libya ,this is his first book in English ,he has been writing since the 1970’s ,his writing end up with him spending ten years in jail during the Gaddafi regime , apart from novels he is also a well-known playwright .Here he is on the bbc talking about the lack of reading and books in Libya due to the recent regime .It is also the first of a new venture in publishing from Darf publishing , a name connected with publishing Arabic literature since the 50’s .

At this point in the story , Mukhtar finds himself face to face with the statue which become central to his life and our story

Just after Fatima left him .

Chewing Gum is actually a very unique book one that  I’m pleased to have been sent it has an unusual narrative style as it is told in little vignettes .At the heart is the story of a man Mukhtar  , he has seen the love of his life walk away from he was Fatima walk away  and we see how their lives twist and turns in the ten years after this as they are from different places ..The other thread of the story is a crazy craze for chewing gum that arrived in Libya in the 80’s as they started to import it from first turkey ,but as the book moves on you see it come from other places as the connections of Libya with the world changes  over time .Then there is a statue from the time Italy ran the country  that also is symbolic of past events and also the present day .All of this takes place in one part of town ,so what you see is a cross-section of the country in one small place .

The gum , in brief , became , everyone’s obsession.But the actual enjoyable act of mastication remained a privilege of the few one of which ,without doubt ,was our heroine .

Fatima caught up in the gum craze that swept Libya

This is one of those books that long after you’ve put it down you think did that represent this .Now it is a story of lost love ,a man pining at one point Mukhtar is compared to the statue having stood or appeared to have stood in the same place looking down the street at the way Fatima left .Now you could see that as the lifetime of Libya and the years stood like a statue being the years under Gaddafi ? Now the chewing gum is a motif for the outside world and how it connected  to Libya over the time ,but also like the Statue, the act of  chewing gum is also a way of passing time ,also like Gum it  loses its taste maybe Libyans lost the taste of the regime long before they overthrew it or in the gums case throw it a way .What Bushnaf has tried to do is use the gum craze and get people involved academics ,the regime ,shopkeepers and use all these to explain the times .As I said this is a book that you have to read to get it is one that just doesn’t fit easily into a box ,it isn’t like another book from Arabic I’ve read (I am under the belief it is written in English will be translated back to arabic by the writer at a later date ) .Also I do love the simple retro styling of the cover .

The Truth about the Harry Quebert affair by Joël Dicker

the truth about the Harry Qubert affair

The truth about the Harry Quebert affair by Joël Dicker

Swiss fiction

Orginal title La Vérité sur l’Affaire Harry Quebert

Translator – Sam Taylor

Source – review copy

It was love at first sight, at last sight, at ever and ever sight.”
― Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita via goodreads

 

Well in the UK ,you bound to have seen this about it has been really pushed by Waterstones book shop here , which is good to see so often translated fiction doesn’t get the front windows or main tables in book shops .So to Joël Dicker ,he is Swiss writer ,he was born and schooled in Geneva ,he went to Paris to study for a year after school ,then returned and completed a degree in law in Switzerland ,he has always written this his first book has been a runaway success in Europe .it won the Prix Goncourt des Lycéens Grand Prix du Roman de l’Academie Francaise prizes .

“He wrote that book for that girl , Marcus .For a fifteen-year-old girl .I can’t leave the plaque there .That’ not love – it’s disgusting .”

“I think it’s more complicated than that ,” I said .

“And I think you should keep your nose out of this , Marcus .You should go back to New York and stay far away from all this ”

Marcus is told to leave the Harry Quebert affair alone .

 

So what is the book about ,well it is told in two main time lines the first is in the summer of 1975 ,when the character of the title Harry Quebert is spending the summer in Somerset in New Hampshire ,finishing a book which he feels will cement his places as one of the best writers around  his book the origins of evil is maybe more than it first seemed .During this  time he befriends a young girl Nola Kellergran .Now she disappears at the end of this summer this brings us to the other timeline .For 33 years ,later her body is discovered in the yard of the house Harry Quebert was staying in that summer and she is holding a copy of Harry Quebert manuscript.This is where we meet Marcus Goldman ,now he  is a writer just starting his journey as a writer and was taught by Harry Quebrt so he decides to go to Somerset and find pout what really happened and prove that the man he knew so well isn’t the killer and get him free as Harry Quebert now sits in Jail .Along the way the Life of Nola Kellerman isn’t as simple or clean as it once seems as Marcus uncovers more and more about the men she was involved with that summer and what she was really doing .Does he find the killer ,does Harry walk free and what about the two books Harry’s and Marcus’s about Harry’s case ?

The masterpiece I had so desperately wanted to write …. Harry had written it .He had sat at a table in a diner and written words of absolute genius , wonderful sentences that had moved the whole country ,taking care to hide within his work the story of his love affair with Nola Kellergran

The Origins of Evil was Harry’s masterpiece and the book he was writing that summer .

Now this book is great for a début but you do feel after finishing it a good edit and maybe a few changes would have moved it into that instant classic band .But that said it is a wonderful Homage to all things America now Maclehose have gone with a Hopper painting for the cover here and yes this is the america of Hopper and Rockwell .What Joël Dicker has done is taken parts of recent American culture and mixed them so we have part of Twin peaks Nola Kellergran is rather like Laura Palmer in that the more the book unfolds like in the tv show twin peaks the more we gather she isn’t what she first seemed .Part Stephen King that New England and the small town of Somerset could have walked out of a king novel .Part Cold Case drama now I could pick one shpow out but there is a number of shows and books about Cold crime case solving Marcus Goldman is the classic writer turned detective .Part Lolita how many men were attracted to this young women ? Now this book also struck me as part written for a film or tv series ,now that isn’t a bad thing is it ,I mean stephen King has done it for years ,so keep your eyes out for a version of this for a film ,I would love to see a great director get this book in the hands of the likes of David Lynch or Wim Wenders it would really bring out  the darker side of the book out .So I look forward to seeing what Joël Dicker does next ?

Ian Curtis 34 years on

Well in a change from the usual book related post .I’m doing a short post about a favourite singer of mine I can’t remember when I first heard Joy division but it feels like there music has been around since my first lone forays into music , of course the fact he lived and die in Macclesfield a small town very near to where I spent my teen years .Ian Curtis died 34 years ago tomorrow he killed himself but was struggling with many think bi polar , epilepsy and fame ,for me it is his lyrics that have alwAys touch me bleak love songs , songs about collapsed cities and a changing world at the time . So I’ll post videos to a couple of my favourite song love will tear us apart there most famous but some many times over the years it has cropped up a strange times for me .

Boyhood Island by Karl Ove Knausgaard

Boyhood island Karl Ove Knausgaard

Boyhood Island by Karl Ove Knausgaard

Norwegian fiction

Original title – Min Kamp Tredje Bok

Translator – Don Bartlett

Source – Library

 

“If growing up means it would be beneath my dignity to climb a tree, I’ll never grow up, never grow up, never grow up! Not me!

J M Barrie the writer of Peter Pan

 

Well book two is on the IFFP shortlist of Karl Ove Knausgaard six book collection My struggle and in the time it was longlist and shortlist Book three of the collection has come out in hardback .I have already read books one and two  and have loved a both of them so was excited to get to the halfway point (well not really in terms of pages as the next few books are longer ) .

We moved there in the summer of 1970 , when most of the houses on the site were still being built .The shrill warning siren ,which sounded before and explosion was a common feature of my childhood , and that very distinctive feeling of doom you can experience when shock waves from the explosion ripple through the ground causing the house to tremble was common too .

The house the Knaugaard family moved to on the Island .

So Boyhood island like the previous books is a fictionalized account of the life of Karl Ove Knausgaard ,so far we have seen his relationship with his father ,late teen years and the struggling start as a writer and young father .Now on book three we dive back to his earlier childhood a seventies Norway  we see Karl Ove ‘s school years unfold as he lives with his family in a series of places and small islands were his family settled .Karl Ove making friends ,seeing his parents change ,observing there relationship as a child in hindsight watching them argue .This is really a normal childhood made into high art every little piece of his childhood is taken apart what he ate ,what he watch , the early discovery of books , a love of comics etc etc . We do see what made the man but also what it was to be a child in the seventies in Norway .

The disagreements never lasted long, a few hours later I was playing with them again if I wanted , but there was something awry .I was finding myself in situations with my back against the wall more and more often ,the others were moving away more and more often when I approached , even Geir ,in fact ,on occasion I realised they were actually hiding from me .

Trouble at times Karl Ove struggled at times  with his temper .

Now I must say this one of the three actually is the book I have like least ,still with Karl Ove great style of writing but something feels more forced about this one maybe to many facts ,I felt as though he’d maybe tried to hard to remember his childhood and maybe like we all do is remember the parts around our childhood , in my case the spangles , jackanoary , having snails in my pockets ,childhood fights with my younger brother , playing with my younger brother as we made things out of lego .This is what we get here ,underneath is parts we have seen in the other books hints of troubles ahead between Karl Ove and his father .It didn’t quite click the writers voice in this just isn’t child like enough at times ,not that it is bad now there is still those flourishes of description that for me is his real strength to carry the everyday into something more than the everyday to us the reader is a rare talent .Will I be reading on of course so I will count down the days until vol four arrives with us this time next year .

Have you got this far with Karl Ove ?

The sorrow of angels by Jón Kalman Stefánsson

SOrrow of angels

The sorrow of angels by Jón Kalman Stefánsson

Icelandic fiction

Original title – Harmur englanna

Translator – Philip Roughton

Source – review copy

I might have speculated on my chances of going to Heaven; but candidly I did not care. I could not have wept if I had tried. I had no wish to review the evils of my past. But the past did seem to have been a bit wasted. The road to Hell may be paved with good intentions: the road to Heaven is paved with lost opportunities.

Apsley Cherry Garrard from his book the worst journey in the world .via goodreads

Well yesterday I covered part one of this trilogy Heaven and Hell  ,so far Jón Kalman Stefánsson has written nine novels and in 2005 won the Icelandic Literature prize .Like the first in this trilogy I read this on more than one occasion the prose are very rich and need to be savoured on more than one occasion I feel .

It’s snowing .The snowflakes fill the vault of the sky and pile up on the world .The wind is gentle and drifts hold their shape ,The surface of the sea is calm and ceaselessly swallows the snow .

Weather but a little calmer than in other parts of the book .

Well I think that quote sums this book up well ,the book follows a journey taken by the still unnamed boy who was one of the main characters in the first book and Jens a postman as they seek to deliver a package for a doctor in the hinterland of Iceland .Now the boy an orphan whom in the first book lost his good friend seems a much more rounded character in this book one who because of his past has fallen in love with books .The journey sees the two battle each other and the elements around them and maybe grow to know each other from this shared journey .As they move from farm to farm to get the item delivered .

The coffee brews .

Oh, the aroma of this black drink !

Why do we have to remember it so well ;it’s been so very long , since we could drink coffee , many decades ,yet still the tast and pleasure haunts us .Our bodies were devoured to the last morsel long ago .

As a coffee lover Stefanssson often mentions coffee .

Snow ,snow ,snow ,cold ,wind this is maybe the book summed up in five words what we have here like the first book is a book is about man and his surrounds ,how we can conquer most things but the elements still even now (although this book is set a hundred years ago ) we struggle in the worst conditions to get by .Again the book is told in a collective voice ,an echo of a past gone but kept alive in these pages .The journey they are  undertaking is maybe an eternal one that man has been taken since the beginning of time  , the one that isn’t about getting there but about taking the journey .Philip Roughton has caught what I call the cold feel of the book ,I assume there is more in Icelandic about cold and cold weather but he has still managed to make you feel a real chill down your spine ,this would be a great book to read on a hot summers day as it will cool you down .This is another from this years IFFP it is on our shadow shortlist .

Have you read either of the books by this writer ?

 

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