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Swimming [Anglais] [Relié]

Nicola Keegan
4.5 étoiles sur 5  Voir tous les commentaires (2 commentaires client)
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Description de l'ouvrage

14 juillet 2009
“I loved Swimming. It’s the most original novel I’ve read all year. I can’t get Pip’s voice out of my mind. Give yourself a treat this summer—read this book.”
—Judy Blume

A spectacular debut about the rise of an Olympic champion—a novel about competition, obsession, the hunger for victory, and a young girl with an unsinkable spirit struggling to stay afloat in the only way she can.

When we first meet Pip, the extraordinary heroine of Nicola Keegan’s first novel, she is landlocked in a small town in the center of Kansas, literally swimming for her life. Pip is tall and flat and smart and funny and supernaturally buoyant. On land, she has her share of troubles: an agoraphobic mother, a lost father, a drug-addled sister, and a Catholic education dominated by a group of high-energy nuns. But in the water, Pip is unstoppable. In the water, her suffering and rage are transmuted into grace and speed and beauty.

Swimming
is the story of Pip’s journey from a small Midwestern swim team to her first state meet, her brutal professional training, and the final, record-breaking swims that lead to her dizzying ascent to the Olympic podium in Barcelona. It’s the story of a girl who discovers, in the loneliness of adolescence, in the family tragedies that threaten to engulf her, the resilience of the human spirit and the spectacular power of her own body.

A ferociously original novel, sparkling with wit and blazing with emotion, from a gifted new novelist.

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Descriptions du produit

Extrait

In Water I Float

I’m a problematic infant but everything seems okay to me. I’m sitting in Leonard’s arms grabbing at his nose. I have no idea how prehistoric my face is, am smiling a gaping, openmouthed smile that pushes the fat up around my eyes, causing a momentary blackout. When the world turns black, I scream. I’m blessed with unusual eyebrow mobility; when I scream, they scream with me. Leonard pats my back, bouncing me gently up and down; his face is tired and drawn and as green as the lime green paint the nuns use for their windowsills. I recover quickly, push his big nose in with all my force, have no idea that a perfect replica is sitting in the middle of my own face just waiting to grow.

I have seven chins varying in size and volume; crevasses things get stuck in that my mother has to excavate carefully after each bath. We have ceremonies: Each morning she leans in toward me with a cotton ball dipped in baby oil, two purple sandbags of fatigue carefully holding down her eyes, and each morning I karate-kick the open bottle of baby oil out of her hand. Today she burst into tears as the bottle whizzed past her ear, shooting a trail of shiny oil across the room. I wailed with her in loving solidarity, the fat above my ankles flapping over my monstrous feet like loose tights.

I live simply; when something doesn’t seem okay, I scream until it is again. I do not like closing my eyes to discover there is no music, lights, or people I know inside. I do not like being alone, being alone with Bron, finding myself in my bed alone, waking up in my car seat with no one in sight, the sound of silence. If I fall asleep listening to the beat of my mother’s heart, pacing my breath in cadence with hers, and awake later to find myself lying on my back in a pastel-barred prison, I feel cheated and betrayed. I howl with my guts in a belly-shaking rage until someone comes and gets me, usually my mother, who is shocked and worried at how her second child could be so different from the sleepy, button-nosed first. Day and night mean nothing to me. Leonard is trying to think; can’t.

We’re at the Quaker Aquatic Center waiting for my first aqua baby class to begin. My mother’s sitting at the edge of the pool, holding a shivering Bron, who’s studying me quietly, an intent expression on her oval face. She won’t get in and no one’s making her. I grab Leonard’s lips and pull; he taps my hand with one finger, whispers: Stop. I can’t walk yet; he has to carry me everywhere and it’s starting to hurt his lower back. He yelled at my mother yesterday. What in the hell are you feeding her? And she yelled back, hard. The same damn formula we gave Bron. I look over at my mother; Bron has moved behind her and is holding on to her neck with a hand that suggests possession. She’s got one thumb in her mouth, eyes burning holes in my flabby face. I kick Leonard in the gut; he grunts. I jump a little bit, pointing toward Bron, gurgle, then speak. I’m trying to say: She means me harm.

Leonard says: Shoosh now; the nice lady is talking.

I don’t know what the hell he’s talking about so I kick him in the gut again, grab one of the long hairs that sprout from his eyebrows, pull.

There’s a lady coming at me with a mermaid puppet on one hand. The mermaid is saying goo things, but Bron has destroyed the joy of puppets for me forever. I try to get away from it by weeping dramatically as I crawl up Leonard’s shoulder and he scrambles to hold on. The lady is hailing me, but I don’t know her face, so I won’t look at it. She’s wearing a swimsuit with a skirt attached and a necklace with a bright yellow plastic smiley face in the middle. Leonard bounces me up and down. I wipe puppet from mind, swallow sobs, lunge for the smiley face. Leonard almost loses me, says: Whoooahhhh there, a sharp satellite of pain pulsing in his lower back.

The lady says: She’s ready, all right.

Leonard says: You think?

She says: Oh yes.

He says: What should I do?

She clasps her hands. Let’s put her in.

He says: I hope this works.

She says: Oh, this’ll work. You’ll see. It will change your life.

He dips my feet into the warm water. I hop, squealing a high-pitched squeal that makes the lady jump. Oh my. I see what you’re talking about.

I’m nine months old and the longest I’ve slept at one time is one hour and forty-three minutes. I think my name is Boo, but it’s not. It’s just one of the many things I’ll be called: Boo, Mena, Phil, Pip, but the name on my birth certificate has four syllables: Philomena, and will be the first major disappointment in my life. No one will use it until I get to school and the nuns insist. I have various hobbies that consume me: kicking, screaming, pulling things down, kicking again, crying. Lately, I’ve been experimenting with howling like a wolf. I sit up in my crib three hours before dawn, grab the bars with both fists, and keen at the moon. I’ve started to pull myself around on the floor and, when no one is looking, roll myself up in electrical wire, get my fingers stuck in air-conditioning vents, and scream until someone yanks me out. Yesterday, I gnawed down half a candle, pooping it out this morning with horrible grunts as my mother wept: I just turned my head for a second.

Leonard’s trying to write Most Misunderstood Mammals, which will be published at Roxanne’s birth and will win him the largest grant to study bats ever awarded in the history of American academia. He will be pictured on the cover of the Glenwood Morning Star standing next to Rosy, a cuddly African fruit-faced bat with wide, dreamy eyes. He knows that his work is good, but at the moment he’s just tired and poor, sleeping in his ratty old car with a pillow over his head when he can’t take the screaming anymore. When he gets the grant, he will celebrate with his bat team, astronomer Gerald, Ahmet Noorani, and Dr. Bob, and then he’ll fly all over the world studying bat behavior, coming back home with a burnt nose and a collection of exotic bowls things will get lost in. I will do things too. I will be ashamed of his job, pretend he’s a regular doctor until the mini-Catholics turn into junior Catholics and find out he’s the guy in the dumb suit that Channel 9 interviews every Halloween. They’ll call me Batgirl, draw ears on my locker and all the school pictures I ever hand out until the day I win my first Olympic gold and they repent.

Leonard slides me in up to my belly; there are spaces in my diaper that let the warm water leak in. This makes me so happy, I squeal. I look over at my mother; she’s clapping her hands and making goo sounds. She’s pregnant again because I took so long coming that she and Leonard decided they’d better have the rest of their children quickly, bam, bam, bam. When Leonard said bam, bam, bam, he’d hit one open palm with the side of the other, a gesture I will soon come to dread. She’d agreed with him at the time, has changed her mind since, but doesn’t know it because she’s too tired to articulate thought. I look at Bron and my two eyebrows become one. She’s been poking me through the bars of my crib with her Barbie. She’s been pinching me hard with vicious claws. She pretends to be nice when they’re around, but reveals her true face when they’re not looking. She tries to scare me with it, and succeeds; I howl. At the howl, Mom and Leonard look at each other and frown as Bron smiles. I am one of those people who will never truly grasp the relationship between time and space. I tried to hit her from my high chair across the room as she played with her Barbies this morning, her hair lit in long golden shafts by the narrow winter light. I howled in frustration when my fist hit air and not her head as Mom and Leonard exchanged glances, unspoken worry darkening their eyes.

The lady with the face I don’t know yet whispers: Just let her go.

Leonard gets nervous. I don’t think I can.

The lady says: Trust me. She’s ready to go and he lets me go.

I sink into warmth for a second, go into natural apnea. My eyes open wide with shock; this is new, but it’s blue and not black so I stand it. I kick a little bit; it moves me. My diaper absorbs water, puffing out like one of those kinds of fish. It slides slowly down my thighs, eventually tangling itself between my knees. I kick again; my diaper falls off and I bob to the surface like a cork. Leonard says: Wow! That was . . . should I put a diaper on her?

The lady thinks for a moment, twiddling the puppet. No, let’s just watch her for a second. She seems . . .

I look at him, and the sounds that come out of my mouth mean: Hey! Where are we? What’s going on here? When he doesn’t answer, I insist Dah? Dah? as I go under. He says: She just called me Dad. Did you hear her? She just said Dad. My mother claps; Bron squints. Leonard’s happiness vibrates through the water; it helps speed me along.

All my life, I will kick things that find their way into my path: shoes, baskets, toilet paper rolls, money, rocks, tennis balls, rolled-up socks, gym bags, Roxanne once or twice, any kind of circular fruit. It will become an irresistible urge that serves me well. I kick; it moves me, and I feel joy. I have no idea that I’m floating in the center of Glenwood, that Glenwood is floating in the middle of Kansas, that Kansas is a simple state, a safe distance from the other, more complicated ones. I do not know that my mind is an ocean, collecting things that sift down through the sunlight, the twilight, the midnight, the abyssal zones to the...

Revue de presse

Praise for Nicola Keegan’s Swimming

“I loved Swimming. It’s the most original novel I’ve read all year. I can’t get Pip’s voice out of my mind. Give yourself a treat this summer—read this book.”
—Judy Blume

“Deadpan hilarious . . . fun and imaginative. . . . An ambitious and exhilarating novel about a girl for whom swimming is as vital as breathing. . . . The muscular energy of Keegan’s prose . . . works in bursts—short, punchy clauses and chapters—and Pip’s voice is wryly comic, even when events turn tragic.”
—Radhika Jones, Time

“You don’t have to be a swimmer to respond to this story; you don’t even have to be into sports (heck, I spent all of high school PE hiding in the marching band and I loved this book). . . . [The] tension between exuberance and despair is what gives this novel such reckless buoyancy. . . . Completely absorbing. . . . The book delivers some knockout scenes at the Olympics, enriched by Pip’s quirky humor about her competitors and the media’s inanity.”
—Ron Charles, The Washington Post Book World

“Keegan’s energy jumps off the page. . . . Swimming is a wonderful coming-of-age story, a richly detailed account of a young woman channeling her rage, grief and insecurity into a passion to win. The voice Keegan has invented for Pip is sarcastic, thoughtful, elegant, irreverent.”
—Diane White, The Boston Globe

“If Jane Bowles and Gerard Manley Hopkins had a lovechild, she might just possibly write as gloriously as Nicola Keegan. Swimming is a novel for people who love donut holes, or the dead, or dogs, or nuns, or fat people, or world class athletes, or the English language, or pretty much anything. It should be read, re–read, dreamed about, quoted to friends, and enacted as a shimmery odd hilarious mystery play. Swimming is simply magnificent.”
—Rivka Galchen, author of Atmospheric Disturbances

“Nicola Keegan has pulled off a coup with her first novel. Swimming is as entertaining as it is deeply moving, a story of loss that is—against all odds—also a jubilation.”
—Lauren Groff, author of The Monsters of Templeton

“Keegan takes on death, religion, relationships and coming-of-age in her gorgeously stylized and irreverent debut about a rising Olympic swimming star. . . . Keegan's linguistic playfulness moves the story at a fast clip. . . . This is worth reading for the prose alone.”
Publishers Weekly

“A troubled child finds her natural element, swimming her way to the Olympics, in this shimmering debut. Young Pip relays her tale with such insight, you’ll feel you’re floating beside her.”
Good Housekeeping

“A fine debut novel about the making of a Olympic champ.”
People

“Nicola Keegan’s sleek–as–a–porpoise debut novel.”
—Cathleen Medwick, O, The Oprah Magazine

“[A] stroke of genius.”
Daily Candy

“Well-crafted.”
—Jan Blodgett, Library Journal

“Told in her own quirky, questioning and super-critical voice, Pip’s story of finding her way back to a life on land is inspiring, a must-read for anyone who has, at one time or another, found life to be a challenge. And who hasn’t?”
—Ann La Farge, Hudson Valley News

Détails sur le produit

  • Relié: 320 pages
  • Editeur : Knopf (14 juillet 2009)
  • Langue : Anglais
  • ISBN-10: 0307269973
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307269973
  • Dimensions du produit: 3 x 16,5 x 23,6 cm
  • Moyenne des commentaires client : 4.5 étoiles sur 5  Voir tous les commentaires (2 commentaires client)
  • Classement des meilleures ventes d'Amazon: 329.400 en Livres anglais et étrangers (Voir les 100 premiers en Livres anglais et étrangers)
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4 internautes sur 4 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 An outstanding novel ! 6 juillet 2009
Format:Relié
Original, moving, ferociously written, and funny--Swimming by Nicola Keegan is that rare novel, the kind I love to read, then reread.

It's the story of a girl whose natural element is water under pressure. Propelled to greatness by tragedy and the will to survive it, the young heroine is anything but a trained robot. Surrounded by nuns and priests, sisters, friends, rivals and coaches, (what coaches!), she has an innate sense of humor that nothing--even death--can defeat.
Billed as light summer fare, Swimming is much better than that. It's a great work of fiction. One that rings profoundly true.

- Laurel Zuckerman (Paris)
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1 internautes sur 2 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 ovale 7 septembre 2010
Par valeo
Format:Relié
Début un peu laborieux, l'auteur pose ses jalons, mais on ne voit pas où elle veut mener le lecteur en mal d'intrigue linéaire. Impression aussi (confirmée par la comparaison avec le texte original) que la traductrice se trompe parfois de registre (abus du verbe "hurler" au lieu de "brailler" ou "beugler"), ne fait pas toujours voir les images que l'auteur veut suggérer. Une bonne traduction ne peut être qu'un rewriting, une réécriture... Mais cela prend plus de temps!
Malgré tout, petit à petit le sens du projet se dessine,une oeuvre épique, un foisonnement de destins qui s'entrecroisent, s'entrechoquent avec pour toile de fond l'Amérique, le Sud profond, mélange de naïveté, sentimentalisme, dynamisme, combativité, férocité et sans doute plus, avec ici et là des percées dans une épaisseur faulknérienne.
Plus qu'une variante d'autobiographie ou d'autofiction: Un vrai Roman de Formation dont les protagonistes, la part d'universel, sont le Temps, l'Amour, la Mort. Mais ce n'est pas une œuvre dissertante, la force de Swimming est de faire voir et entendre une famille, des personnages, une société pas franchement idylliques (pas tendre pour la mère, et même pour le père tant aimé et les copines, et les bonnes soeurs de l'insitution religieuse),féroce par tendresse refoulée ? La technique d'écriture est originale, mêle le narratif, le réflexif et la parole...avec l'inconvénient que parfois on ne sait pas qui parle, mais n'est-ce pas un truc pour forcer l'attention participative du lecteur?.
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Amazon.com: 3.7 étoiles sur 5  83 commentaires
23 internautes sur 27 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Ten Stars Would Not Be Enough! 5 juin 2009
Par Eileen Granfors - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié|Commentaire client Vine pour produit gratuit (De quoi s'agit-il?)
Nicola Keegan's irrepressible first novel tells the story of a young girl's rise from a tall Kansas hick to world- famous Olympic swimmer.

I loved the book for its dissection of the competitive spirit, the details of training (including the motivational speeches and the required diets) and the mentality of the super athlete. The analysis of the opposition was both snarky and sympathetic.

I loved this book for its depiction of swimming as escape from the burdens that life places upon families through illness, through dysfunction, through grief and loss and difference and plain old growing up. "Swimming" also gives us the friendship of Philomena and the Cocoplat with warmth and grace as the two change, grow, grow apart, reconcile.

I loved this book for the voice of the narrator, Philomena, her honesty, exuberance, humor, "eye talk," nun-parodies, and self-doubt.

"Swimming" is a funny, heart-breaking, wild, detailed, luminous, shattering, and wonderful book. It is absolutely my favorite book in years.

Brava, brava, brava, Ms. Keegan! "Swimming" is "Ulysses" without the intellectual pretense. The esteemed Harold Bloom of Yale may not agree, but I have "nunnerisms" straight from Philomena to tell him what I think of all that literary blather. This is a book for the ages and the people, not just the ivory-tower crowd.
13 internautes sur 14 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Hurt Forges a Champion 29 mai 2009
Par Phyllis T. Smith - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié|Commentaire client Vine pour produit gratuit (De quoi s'agit-il?)
This novel is about an Olympic swimming champion, but there is relatively little about the Olympics. Only one of the character's swimming races is presented in any detail at all. We see her punishing training routine. But the build-up to the specific races, the suspense about whether or not Pip, our protagonist, will break a world record or win the eight gold medals she aims at, is almost nonexistent, a sort of afterthought. This is not remotely a female, aquatic "Chariots of Fire."

What does the novel focus on? Mainly, the effects of Pip's tragic family history and, to a considerably lesser extent, her relationships with fellow swimmers. At one point, Pip says that something is wrong with every swimming champion--some grief or deficiency is driving them. Pip is driven to swim to escape unhappiness at home. To me the most involving part of the novel concerns her older sister's struggle with cancer. No one will speak honestly to this unfortunate young girl. She emerges as a vivid character about whom the reader truly cares. It's harder to care about Pip's mother, who suffers from a severe anxiety disorder which prevents her attending any of her daughter's swim meets, or Pip's two other sisters, one an almost-nun, the other struggling with drug addiction.

The writing is beautiful. This is a first person account, told in the present tense, and with italics substituting for quotation marks. Stylistically, all this works, bringing us very close to Pip. As a reader, you feel you are meeting a real human being and become truly involved with her story.

This is the kind of book in which, if the protagonist gets a dog, you assume it will meet a sad fate. Misery is piled upon misery in the early part of the novel. Happiness is rare and fleeting. No family member ever expresses pride in Pip's achievements. We get a sense of the sacrifices endured by an Olympic champion, not of the triumphs.

Pip's true struggle is less to win Olympic gold than to first evade and then finally confront grief and depression: I get this. Still, I wanted the other part of Pip's story--the thrill of competition, and ultimately of victory. This aspect is stinted. I found the novel absorbing--I admire the writing enough to give it four stars--but I felt a piece was missing.
8 internautes sur 8 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Brilliant writing, elusive subject 30 mai 2009
Par Dr. Cathy Goodwin - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié|Commentaire client Vine pour produit gratuit (De quoi s'agit-il?)
Swimming tells the story of Philomena, a tall sturdy midwesterner who transcends a dysfunctional family to become an Olympian gold medal swimming champion. I have no idea if the premise is plausible, but author Nicola Keegan writes so powerfully that I didn't care.

Reading Swimming is like seeing a car wreck. It's brutal but often hard to look away. I found myself wanting to read more and more. The pages kept turning. But as other reviewers have noted, Philomena rarely gets to enjoy a positive experience. Good things get taken away or overshadowed by the aftermath.

Perhaps there's just so much going on it's hard to keep track, whether you're living the life or just reading about it. Philomena's father chose an eccentric career path, yet the family seems to have unlimited money. Each of Philomena's three sisters battles her own demons. Then there's the whole backdrop of the Catholic church and the parade of fellow swimmers, most of whom seem one-dimensionally mean.

The ending goes on for a long time. Both the author and heroine seem to have lost their way. Philomena doesn't seem to have moved emotionally beyond her scarred family. Perhaps a star athlete necessarily becomes too involved to remain connected with life. But Philomena had a superb college education. She had experiences that must have contributed to her growth. And yet she seems to be back where she was at the beginning of the novel: out of place, confused and rudderless. I keep thinking of a rocket that escapes gravity, only to fizzle and fall back to earth, a hollow shell of its former self.

Throughout the book, I kept wanting to shake the heroine and say, "Move on. Get over it." Of course if she did, the genre would be more like chick lit or women's fiction. It's the constant battle with adversity, combined with the flawless writing, that keeps Swimming in the realm of literary fiction.
9 internautes sur 10 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
3.0 étoiles sur 5 An Exhausting Read 28 juillet 2009
Par S. D. Fischer - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié|Commentaire client Vine pour produit gratuit (De quoi s'agit-il?)
I was intrigued by the hope of learning how an Olympic swimmer is shaped and formed; the role of coaches and parents; the mental and physical challenges endured and conquered; and the loss of a normal adolescent social life to focus on training.

I was disappointed that in this book, swimming is overpowered by the craziness of the main character and her family (which includes an agoraphobic mother, drug-addicted sister, alcoholic babysitter and possibly suicidal father).

The main character's trains of thought can be exhausting to read. For example, the following begins a chapter, "Skating drill. Shark drill. Turtle drill. Ancient dull dead men say: One day is, the next isn't. Breathing drill. Two-beat rocking drill. Rock body. Rotate shoulder. Shift. Ancient dull dead men say: O courage. O sorrow. Watching clock tick drill. Feeling water flow drill. Body spearing focal point, mind lasering forward. Time whips everything we know into foam."

I love to read but had to struggle to finish this book. It is definitely not a light read for the beach.
5 internautes sur 5 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Engaging, Evocative - A Must-read for the Adult Human 6 juillet 2009
Par Tom S. - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié|Commentaire client Vine pour produit gratuit (De quoi s'agit-il?)
This is a poet's novel: lyrical, profound, disturbing, enriching. A work of courageous honesty and depth. A first novel, but a master-work.

Swimming is the first-person narrative story of the character "Pip" (Philomena). It starts with her learning that she can swim before she can walk or talk. Pip's early childhood is revealed in a series of "snapshot" chapters that reminded me of the spottiness of childhood memories. Then she provides a more connected narrative from early teens, through the critical point where she transitions to a serious competitor, through intensive training to world-class triumph, and beyond.

The book's style and tone are remarkable, though I may struggle to describe them. The story flows easily: it becomes compelling, an unusual kind of page-turner. It is told in an intimate yet detached way. I didn't know what year it was for more than 100 pages, nor her last name for nearly 200; but Pip, her family, her friends are spotlighted with a clear, penetrating insight that is non-judgmental but merciless and somehow warmer for that. I felt that I knew these people, and I ached for their sorrows even as their story evoked memories of my own.

Pip's key transition is sharply drawn, and leaves the clear impression that things could have gone otherwise: rather than "champion" she might have earned any of a dozen lesser titles; there aren't many judgmental labels in the book, but I might call some of the alternatives "stoner", "town pump", "couch potato". Pip's experiences are so very particular that the deeper truth of her story becomes universal. We understand a "champion" as a state in a continuity with the varied conditions of those around Pip, a condition that seems "special" more due to media attention than anything else.

There were a few things that bothered me a little about the book as I was reading it. The opening chapter, in first-person by a nine-month-old girl, struck me as a bit off (unrealistic? pretentious?) in places as I first read it. But I decided later that it had to be written as it was, to set up the book's overall tone. And I felt some doubts in some early chapters as to how they would contribute to the story: was the book wandering? Perhaps a little, but at the critical point I felt I knew Pip well enough to understand what she was doing.

This is a remarkable book. After reading it I feel I know more about what it is to be human than I did before, and some of my own memories have a currency that I have not felt for many years. I highly recommend working through any doubts such as those I had in the early parts of the book: you will be well rewarded.
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