Shelf Awareness for Friday, September 17, 2021


Union Square Kids: Julia and the Shark by Kiran Millwood Hargrave, illustrated by Tom de Freston

Tor Teen: Into the Light by Mark Oshiro

Peachtree Teen: Junkyard Dogs by Katherine Higgs-Coulthard

Blackstone Publishing: The Wisdom of Morrie: Living and Aging Creatively and Joyfully by Morrie Schwartz and Rob Schwartz

Neal Porter Books: All the Beating Hearts by Julie Fogliano, illustrated by Cátia Chien

News

Bookstore Sales Up 63.9% in July, Up 34.8% Year to Date

In July, bookstore sales jumped 63.9%, to $716 million, compared to July 2020, according to preliminary Census Bureau estimates. July 2020 was the fourth full month that reflected severe measures taken in the U.S. to combat the Covid-19 pandemic, which included widespread lockdowns. By comparison to pre-pandemic times, sales this July rose 21.2% in relation to July 2019.

For the year to date, bookstore sales are up 34.8%, to $4.4 billion.

Total retail sales in July rose 15.3%, to $633.7 billion. So far this year, total retail sales have risen 21.8%, to $4.2 trillion.

Note: under Census Bureau definitions, the bookstore category consists of "establishments primarily engaged in retailing new books." The Bureau also added this unusual caution concerning the effect of Covid-19: "The Census Bureau continues to monitor response and data quality and has determined that estimates in this release meet publication standards."


G.P. Putnam's Sons: Loyalty by Lisa Scottoline


Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center Bookstore Opening in San Antonio

The Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center in San Antonio, Tex., is opening a new bookstore October 1 that "will bind Latino literature with community," MYSA reported. The 3,000-square-foot shop, located in the former Progreso Pharmacy building at 1300 Guadalupe Street, will feature "literature written by Texas Latino authors focusing on Mexican-American studies and Chicano scholars and icons," as well as children's titles. 

GCAC executive director Cristina Balli said the store will quench the book desert that has plagued the area for generations: "It's economics. The 78207 zip code is one of the poorest zip codes in San Antonio, with a long history of segregation, and economic segregation, that has shaped the forces to be what they are now. The area is underserved in all aspects--food, transportation, infrastructure--not too long ago, there was a big flooding zone. Historically, there's been a lot of neglect of the area. That's the environment that we've been operating in."

The bookstore is funded with the $839,000 GCAC received as part of the 2012 city bond to renovate the building and add a community art gallery and gift shop. Balli said she added the bookstore concept when she joined in 2016.
 
Tony Diaz is literary curator of the bookstore, and his responsibilities include "picking the books and developing programming to bridge the city's literary ecosystem, involving fellow stores, the San Antonio Public Library and schools," MYSA noted. Balli said Diaz has an extensive history in literary arts, working with authors, retail and a history in activism through his Librotraficante movement, which tackles censorship in Arizona. "There's nobody better in the state to do this," she added.
 
Diaz noted that his plans do not fall in line with a corporate agenda: "If we follow those rules, we wouldn't even open a bookstore. Corporate English sentences our communities to investors. So we're curating books based on community cultural capital, which is the legacy of the cultural center.... We have to work together to create a whole generation of family libraries. When we do that, we all win. On that note, this is also built on the legacy of San Antonio, but it's going to be a cornerstone for every city. This is not just going to be a center for San Antonio, this is where we'll be showcasing writers from around the state." 


GLOW: Tordotcom: The Crane Husband by Kelly Barnhill


'Pay-What-You-Can Bookstore' Pops Up in Chicago

Lawndale Pop-Up Spot, Chicago, Ill., opened a temporary, "pay-what-you-can" neighborhood bookstore pop-up this month in a 20-foot-long freight container retrofitted into a community mini-museum at Love Blooms Here Plaza. Block Club Chicago reported that the bookstore pop-up was designed as a place where "residents can pay what they like. The temporary bookstore is a pilot for a brick-and-mortar book shop planned to open next year in North Lawndale."

That location will be the new hub for North Lawndale Reads, a campaign by Open Books to "increase the early childhood literacy rates in North Lawndale and increasing the love for reading for everyone," said director Chelsea Ridley, adding that the goal of the pop-up bookshop was "to make it really feel like it is a bookstore in a shipping container, with bookshelves. And seating. It's not going to have any old, cheap books. This is going to have books that we pulled from our bookstores."

Like every Open Books location, children's books are free, and visitors will be able to pick their own price for other genres. Open Books carefully vets its donated books so each one is high quality and "feels like a cherished item for the person who now owns it," Ridley added. "We want to make sure that people see themselves in the books that they're reading, and also create pathways for you to see that writing is for them and reading is for them. The more that you are able to find things that interest you, that spark your interest in reading, the more you're able to start reading and continue your interest in reading."


Soho Press: Black Dove by Colin McAdam


International Update: Vivendi Acquiring Lagardère Stake, Novelist Named British Culture Minister

French media conglomerate Vivendi, which owns Editis publishing group, has reached an agreement with Amber Capital to purchase the U.K. investment fund's 17.9% stake in Lagardère, owner of Hachette Livre. Describing the acquisition as the "latest twist in the long-running boardroom battle over the Lagardère group," the Bookseller reported that the move means Vivendi "will control the two largest French publishers unless or until the regulatory authorities order it to shed some of its newly acquired assets."

The deal should be completed by December 15 next year and would bring Vivendi's share in Lagardère to 45.1%. "By law, this would oblige Vivendi to launch a takeover bid for the rest of the capital," the Bookseller noted, adding that Lagardère said it "was 'delighted' with the plan. It showed Vivendi's 'confidence' in the group's strategy, and confirmed that Lagardère would not be broken up, as had been rumored." 

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Nadine Dorries

British politician Nadine Dorries, an MP as well as a novelist, has been appointed the new secretary of state for culture, media and sport, succeeding Oliver Dowden to become the 10th culture secretary in 10 years, the Bookseller reported. The Tory MP for Mid Bedfordshire was previously health minister and is published by Head of Zeus.

Beginning with her first book, The Four Streets (2014), Dorries "has gone on to write a string of historical books either set in Liverpool, where she grew up and trained as a nurse, or the west coast of Ireland, where one of her grandmothers came from," the Bookseller said. Her bestselling title is The Angels of Lovely Lane. She is also well known for her 2012 appearance on ITV's I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here!.
 
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In the most recent Australian Booksellers Association newsletter, Reem Sweid, owner of the Chestnut Tree Bookshop in Melbourne, wrote about how the bookstore "was born from Covid. It was a direct result of being in lockdown and realizing the importance of local community and local businesses. As with many others, being at home created the space for me to shift my thinking about what was important in life. There were practical considerations--I wanted to have flexibility in work, I wanted to be able to move at work (and not behind a desk all day), I wanted to walk to work and do something local. But beyond the practical considerations, I was motivated by a desire to do something that gave me a sense of purpose and a sense of community....

"It is often remarked that we are brave to open a bookshop in this climate. Perhaps some courage is involved, but it didn't feel like it. It felt like a gamble--I took a bet on the local community--that they would support this venture and would be keen to see a local bookshop survive. So far, it has paid off. The support and enthusiasm from the local community has confirmed my suspicion that nothing is as rewarding as working to contribute to your local community. This venture could never succeed without the people who support it and keep reading."


Weiser Books: Mexican Sorcery: A Practical Guide to Brujeria de Rancho by Laura Davila


More National Book Award Longlists: Poetry, Nonfiction

The National Book Foundation has been releasing longlists this week for the 2021 National Book Awards, including Young People's Literature and Translated Literature on Wednesday. Yesterday the NBA unveiled the 10 Poetry and Nonfiction category contenders, with Fiction finalists to be released today. Finalists in all categories will be revealed October 5 and winners named live at the NBA Ceremony November 17. The latest longlisted titles: 

Poetry
The Wild Fox of Yemen
by Threa Almontaser (Graywolf Press)
Ghost Letters by Baba Badji (Parlor Press)
What Noise Against the Cane by Desiree C. Bailey (Yale University Press)
Master Suffering by C.M. Burroughs (Tupelo Press)
The Vault by Andrés Cerpa (Alice James Books)
Floaters by Martín Espada (Norton)
Twice Alive by Forrest Gander (New Directions)
Sho by Douglas Kearney (Wave Books)
A Thousand Times You Lose Your Treasure by Hoa Nguyen (Wave Books)
The Sunflower Cast a Spell to Save Us from the Void by Jackie Wang (Nightboat Books)

Nonfiction
A Little Devil in America: Notes in Praise of Black Performance by Hanif Abdurraqib (Random House)
Running Out: In Search of Water on the High Plains by Lucas Bessire (Princeton University Press)
Tastes Like War: A Memoir by Grace M. Cho (Feminist Press at the City University of New York)
The Ground Breaking: An American City and Its Search for Justice by Scott Ellsworth (Dutton)
Covered with Night: A Story of Murder and Indigenous Justice in Early America by Nicole Eustace (Liveright/Norton)
The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together by Heather McGhee (One World/PRH)
The Free World: Art and Thought in the Cold War by Louis Menand (FSG)

All That She Carried: The Journey of Ashley's Sack, a Black Family Keepsake by Tiya Miles (Random House)
How the Word Is Passed: A Reckoning with the History of Slavery Across America by Clint Smith (Little, Brown)
The Black Civil War Soldier: A Visual History of Conflict and Citizenship by Deborah Willis (New York University Press)


Notes

Image of the Day: Buzz for Fuzz

Last Saturday, employees opened the Copperfield's warehouse in Santa Rosa, Calif., just so author Mary Roach could sign hundreds of additional copies of Fuzz: Nature Breaks the Law (Norton) before the book's launch on Tuesday. Norton's pre-order promotion campaign, which began in April, involved 145 indies around the country, and included signed copies of the book and a limited-edition patch (featured on the book jacket).


Bookshop Marriage Proposal: Napa Bookmine

Napa Bookmine, Napa, Calif., had a double dose of good news earlier this week, posting on Instagram: "Well folks, it's official--we are 8 years old! Today is our anniversary and we can't think of a better way to celebrate than by sharing the absolute cutest, best ever engagement that happened in our shop last week! Join us in wishing a big congratulations to @911murse and @reillarose on their engagement! It straight up made our lives. 

"These are the moments we feel beyond special to be a part of. Thank you for making us a part of your lives here in Napa--it's all about the books, but it's also so much bigger than books. We love you Bookminers!"


Personnel Changes at Chicago Distribution Center

Mark Stewart

Mark Stewart has been promoted to director, distribution & warehouse operations, at the Chicago Distribution Center, owned by the University of Chicago Press. He was formerly senior operations manager and had joined the Center in 2008 as digital print manager.

CDC director Joe D'Onofrio commented, "Mark has been very instrumental in the CDC's growth with the onboarding of 75-plus publishing clients over the past 12 years. He's also demonstrated his pivotable skills in managing a very challenging situation with COVID-19-securing PPEs, implementing social distancing policies, devising and installing workspace partitions and most importantly, keeping the staff informed, calm and safe. In addition, he's managed and coordinated the CDC's multi-million-dollar capital improvement projects--installation of a new roof, painting the distribution center, and refurbishing the accounts receivable department."


Media and Movies

Media Heat: Sami Tamimi, Tara Wigley on CBS This Morning Saturday

Tomorrow:
CBS This Morning Saturday: Sami Tamimi and Tara Wigley, authors of Falastin: A Cookbook (Ten Speed Press, $35, 9780399581731).


TV: Maisie Dobbs Series

Hillary Rodham Clinton and Chelsea Clinton's HiddenLight Productions "has its eyes on a new scripted project" based on Jacqueline Winspear's Maisie Dobbs series of novels, according to the Hollywood Reporter, which noted that HiddenLight has acquired the film and TV rights to the series of 16 books as its "inaugural fiction option."

Speaking recently at the Royal Television Society’s Cambridge Convention via video link, Hillary Clinton said: "One of our favorite books that Chelsea and I have shared over many years is a book about a character called Maisie Dobbs, which is a series about a World War I field nurse who turns into a detective, and we just optioned it. It's an international bestseller by Jacqueline Winspear, and we love the character. It goes from World War I to the Spanish Civil War to World War II. She comes of age in a time of great social upheaval."



Books & Authors

Awards: Washington State Book Winners; Kirkus Finalists

The winners of the 2021 Washington State Book Awards, sponsored by the Washington Center for the Book, a partnership of the Seattle Public Library and the Washington State Library (via the Seattle Times), are: 

Fiction: The Cold Millions by Jess Walter
Biography/memoir: The Magical Language of Others by E.J. Koh
Creative nonfiction: Think Black by Clyde Ford
General nonfiction: Alone Together: Love, Grief and Comfort in the Time of Covid-19, edited by Jennifer Haupt
Poetry: Take a Stand: Art Against Hate, a Raven Chronicles Anthology, edited by Phoebe Bosché, Anna Bálint and Thomas Hubbard
YA literature: What I Carry by Jennifer Longo
Books for young readers: Get a Grip, Vivy Cohen! by Sarah Kapit
Picture book: The Camping Trip by Jennifer K. Mann

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The finalists for the 2021 Kirkus Prize have been announced. The winners in each of the three main categories win $50,000. Winners will be announced October 28. The finalists:

Fiction:
The Dangers of Smoking in Bed by Mariana Enríquez, translated by Megan McDowell (Hogarth/Crown)
The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois by Honorée Fanonne Jeffers (Harper)
My Monticello by Jocelyn Nicole Johnson (Holt)
Bolla by Pajtim Statovci, translated by David Hackston (Pantheon)
Harlem Shuffle by Colson Whitehead (Doubleday)
Harrow by Joy Williams (Knopf)

Nonfiction:
Punch Me Up to the Gods: A Memoir by Brian Broome (Mariner Books)
People Love Dead Jews: Reports From a Haunted Present by Dara Horn (Norton)
All That She Carried: The Journey of Ashley's Sack, a Black Family Keepsake by Tiya Miles (Random House)
Seek You: A Journey Through American Loneliness by Kristen Radtke (Pantheon)
Lightning Flowers: My Journey to Uncover the Cost of Saving a Life by Katherine E. Standefer (Little, Brown Spark)
Horizontal Vertigo: A City Called Mexico by Juan Villoro, translated by Alfred MacAdam (Pantheon)

Young Readers' Literature:
Picture Books: Your Mama by NoNieqa Ramos, illustrated by Jacqueline Alcántara (Versify/HarperCollins)
Unspeakable: The Tulsa Race Massacre by Carole Boston Weatherford, illustrated by Floyd Cooper (Carolrhoda)

Middle Grade: Legacy: Women Poets of the Harlem Renaissance by Nikki Grimes and 19 illustrators (Bloomsbury)
All Thirteen: The Incredible Cave Rescue of the Thai Boys' Soccer Team by Christina Soontornvat (Candlewick)
 
Young Adult: The Surprising Power of a Good Dumpling by Wai Chim (Scholastic)
The Life I'm In by Sharon G. Flake (Scholastic)


Reading with... Josh Ritter

photo: Laura Wilson

Josh Ritter is a songwriter and novelist from Moscow, Idaho. His albums include The Animal Years and So Runs the World Away. He is the author of the novels Bright's Passage and The Great Glorious Goddamn of It All (Hanover Square Press, September 7, 2021), a sweeping tale about an orphaned boy coming-of-age during the last days of the lumberjacks. Ritter lives in New York. 

On your nightstand now:

Red Land, Black Land by Barbara Mertz.

Favorite book when you were a child:

The Dark Is Rising by Susan Cooper.

Here's a writer who gives kids all of the dark mystery and foggy mountain peaks, magic harps and ancient wizards that they could ask for. Welsh mythology wrapped in the shaggy fur of an Arthurian wolfhound.

Your top five authors:

Muriel Spark
Pete Dexter
Tom Robbins
Neil Gaiman
Stephen King

Book you've faked reading:

Deuteronomy.

Book you're an evangelist for:

M Train by Patti Smith. I bought this book on impulse somewhere overseas and fell into it. Her writing is like a river, a pure stream of clean consciousness that leaves me floored.

Book you've bought for the cover:

Another Roadside Attraction by Tom Robbins. Well, I didn't buy it, I stole it from a hotel where it was being used along with a bunch of other books as interior decoration. The cover is a phantasmagorical, psychedelic swirl of color and image that was impenetrable and exciting and irresistible.

Book you hid from your parents:

I was more of a magazine kid. Books were never hidden in our house, but despite looking, I don't remember anything much spicier than James Michener.

Book that changed your life:

Blue Highways by William Least Heat-Moon.

Back in 2002, this book literally fell off of a Bratislava bookstore shelf and onto me. At the time I had just begun traveling widely for my music and I was still learning how to wrap my head around the road. I was still learning what was required of my own psyche from constant travel. Blue Highways was about a trip around America by van, and it couldn't have found me at a better moment.

Favorite line from a book:

"I have often thought that with any luck at all I could have been born a werewolf, because the two middle fingers on both my hands are the same length, but I have had to be content with what I had." --We Have Always Lived in the Castle, Shirley Jackson

Five books you'll never part with:

We Have Always Lived in the Castle, Shirley Jackson
Deadwood, Pete Dexter
Another Roadside Attraction, Tom Robbins
The Ghost Writer, Philip Roth
Loitering with Intent, Muriel Spark

Book you most want to read again for the first time:

Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole and The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov. I have rarely been so surprised and delighted by books that I had previously known nothing about. I don't remember how either of these books came into my life, but they found me around the same time, and their humor was intrinsic to their workings as masterpieces.


Book Review

Review: The Rooftop

The Rooftop by Fernanda Trías, trans. by Annie McDermott (Charco Press, $15.95 paperback, 112p., 9781913867041, October 12, 2021)

In the chilling, spare-but-oh-so-dense novel The Rooftop, Uruguyan writer Fernanda Trías introduces Clara--her name a sharp contrast to her uncertainty, her unknowing--as she recounts the life that she announces on the opening page "came to an end today." Once upon a time, Clara recalls, "I had a life before this one, a job, a flat, which I now remember nothing about." For the last four years, she's been trapped in a small apartment in an unnamed location, caring for her bedridden father and his caged canary ever since his wife, Clara's stepmother, Julia, died. Clara became mysteriously pregnant and hoped the baby's arrival could mean "We'll be a family again," but the news left Dad "pout[ing] like a petulant child." He's more interested in going out, an impossibility that elicits Clara's rage: "There's no sea, no square, no church, no nothing. The world is what's under this roof," she insists.

Clara, too, stopped leaving, convinced of dangers waiting outside. But at least she has the rooftop to which she occasionally escapes. As long as Julia's money lasts, downstairs neighbor Carmen delivers groceries--and news, gossip--to the flat. Carmen complains of an inexplicable vendetta with Clara's next-door neighbors, loud women with louder visitors, including policemen. Without anyone else, Carmen is Clara's de facto midwife when Florencia--"we always called her Flor"--is born. But soon, Clara's growing distrust of Carmen escalates into self-inflicted isolation. As the money dwindles, Clara loses electricity and is forced to steal water from the building's courtyard. And yet, for a while, moments of joy still seem possible--especially in Flor's and Dad's unexpectedly delightful exchanges. But paranoia and desperation grow until "there's nothing of us left."

Awarded the National Uruguayan Literature Prize in 2002, Trías is lauded as one of Latin America's most important contemporary literary voices, with multiple award-winning novels and short stories among her oeuvre. The Rooftop marks Trías's English-language debut, smoothly translated by Annie McDermott. (Charco Press also offers a Spanish-language edition for the first time in the U.S.) When Rooftop was originally published in 2001, Trías's native Uruguay was in the midst of recession, scarcity and presidential uncertainty, all linked to Brazil and Argentina's ongoing economic and political turmoil. While many of the novel's details remain unspecified, the public dangers, unpredictable police presence and food shortages are certainly a reflection of reality. Trías deftly turns her brief fiction into universal parable. --Terry Hong, Smithsonian BookDragon

Shelf Talker: Award-winning Uruguayan author Fernanda Trías makes her English-language debut with a striking, sparse novel about a trapped young woman whose life "came to an end today."  


Deeper Understanding

Robert Gray: What Is an ARC Worth?

My desktop is full. My bookshelves are full. My e-reader is virtually full (just kidding). I've been fending off ARCs for three decades. It's one of life's little (and sometimes great) pleasures. One thing I've never considered doing, however, is selling an ARC. 

In addition to moral and/or ethical reasons for this decision, I must confess that generally when I've finished with an ARC, even one that might be considered valuable somewhere, my copy is in no condition for the market, online or otherwise. As evidence of my long criminal record regarding mistreatment of advance reader's copies to the point of devaluation, I would submit Exhibit A: a 1994 signed and slipcased ARC of Corelli's Mandolin by Louis de Bernières. More on this later.

I guess it's safe to say that my perception of ARCs does not have anything to do with their retail value, though it wasn't a shock when I read the Wall Street Journal's piece ("Stephen King, J.K. Rowling and Others Whose 'Not-for-Sale' Books Are Fetching Thousands") last month reporting that an ARC of Sally Rooney's now mega-bestselling novel Beautiful World, Where Are You had sold on eBay for $79.99 (with tote bag), while another advance copy went for about $200 earlier this summer. An ARC of Jonathan Franzen's forthcoming Crossroads was recently listed on eBay for $165.
 
ARCs "can draw a bidding frenzy, especially inside the literary world," WSJ noted. "One publicist described Rooney's galleys, along with Ottessa Moshfegh's, as 'almost like trading cards' among junior publishing employees. Early, unfinished versions of classic novels have long been collectible, with some fetching astronomical prices. This is especially true for early-20th-century books, when advance copies were rare and tended to be made with higher-quality materials. They can also provide a window into a canonical author's process--highlighting revisions made between drafts, say--and may include handwritten corrections."

Among the examples listed were an uncorrected advance copy of John Steinbeck's Cannery Row ($35,000); an early version of Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea ($28,000); an uncorrected proof of Stephen King's Carrie ($3,000), and, just last May, an uncorrected version of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone that sold for over $29,000.

"FSG policy does not condone any reselling of advance reader copies," said Sarita Varma, director of publicity for Farrar, Straus and Giroux, which publishes Rooney's and Franzen's books in the U.S. "Each copy clearly indicates that it is not for resale." 

David Levithan, publisher and editorial director at Scholastic, observed: "This has always been a conundrum with ARCs. At BookExpo, or the American Library Association Conference, you would see people literally picking up every single galley they could find and getting them signed. Authors used to joke, 'Should I make this out to eBay?' because they didn't want a name, they only wanted a signature."

Social media has upped the ante. In addition to critics galley-bragging on Instagram and authors sharing images of their friends' books on Twitter, WSJ noted that "there are online communities built around ARC-trading and galley-swapping, especially on the resale site Depop. Users will post ARCs and galley wish lists, alongside the books they have to offer in exchange."

It's an international game. British bookseller and blogger Dan Bassett told the Guardian: "When a book appears on social media months before official release, other bloggers and readers go mad for it. This has led to people selling them though market places, with others asking people like myself if I would sell it to them."

Regarding that legal gray area the words "not for sale" printed on an ARC fall into, the Guardian wrote that "publishers remain their legal owners. This means that technically, a publishing house could recall an ARC at any time--but this is largely unheard of. And since proofs of big releases have only recently become such a hot commodity, publishers have not traditionally had to police ARC sales stringently--and have generally been willing to turn a blind eye to a small number of proofs being sold in charity shops."

I'm an innocent. Many of the ARCs that have passed through my hands over 30 years as a bookseller and then editor experienced the same fate as my precious copy of Corelli's Mandolin. It was sent to me at the bookstore by Pantheon, along with a promotional letter from the late, great Sonny Mehta ("Every now and then I pick up a novel that provides a shock of recognition...."). I'm sure I was on that particular mailing list because a couple of years before, I'd been one of the indie booksellers nationwide evangelically handselling Michael Ondaatje's The English Patient (literally the ARC that changed my life).

In 1994, my Corelli's Mandolin ARC was consumed in the best possible way: marginal notes, underlinings, dog-eared pages, broken spine. Devalued, as it were. And yet, it has a place of honor on my bookshelves. Still tucked inside it is a promotional bookmark Pantheon sent out at the time, with Corelli's on one side and The English Patient on the other. That's a link I do value, all these years later. Priceless, you might say.

--Robert Gray, contributing editor

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