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Decoding Paratextual Boundaries of Interpretation: A Study of Paratext in Contemporary Literary Production

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Decoding Paratextual Boundaries of Interpretation: A Study of Paratext in Contemporary Literary Production

Bansal, Smriti (2019) Decoding Paratextual Boundaries of Interpretation: A Study of Paratext in Contemporary Literary Production. [Graduate Projects (Non-thesis)] (Unpublished)

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Abstract

This research paper proposes a model of study to discern the impact of publisher-created paratext on a text’s reception in the media. It showcases how publisher-created paratext activates processes of speculative consumption, delineating audience, and providing a guide on how to consume the text. It also demonstrates how a publisher’s brand identity is implicated in this process. Through the analysis of the paratext surrounding three titles published by Riverhead Books—The Female Persuasion by Meg Wolitzer, The Ensemble by Aja Gabel, and The Friend by Sigrid Nunez—this research reveals how brand-mediated paratext creates boundaries of interpretation around a text that primarily positions the titles as sources of cultural capital. This paper also situates its analysis within the context of a cultural climate where the need for diversity is seen as increasingly urgent. This research ultimately makes the argument that not only does publisher-created paratext influence how a text creates meaning, it also contributes to how the topic of diversity is discussed in the media.

Divisions:Concordia University > Faculty of Arts and Science > Communication Studies
Item Type:Graduate Projects (Non-thesis)
Authors:Bansal, Smriti
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:M.A.
Program:Media Studies
Date:27 March 2019
Keywords:paratext, US book publishing, diversity, Riverhead Books
ID Code:985148
Deposited By: Smriti Bansal
Deposited On:10 Apr 2019 17:35
Last Modified:10 Apr 2019 17:35

References:

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Appendix A: Press Coverage

The Female Persuasion

Arreola, C. (2018, April 2). 15 'The Female Persuasion' Quotes That Speak The Truth About Modern Day Feminism, Female Friendship, & Finding Yourself. Bustle. Retrieved from https://www.bustle.com/p/15-the-female-persuasion-quotes-that-speak-the-truth-about-modern-day-feminism-female-friendship-finding-yourself-8643025

Associated Press. (2018, April 2). Book Review: 'The Female Persuasion' tackles timely topics. Daily News. Retrieved from https://www.nydailynews.com/newswires/entertainment/book-review-female-persuasion-tackles-timely-topics-article-1.3910024

Cote, R.V. (2018, April 3). The Imperfect Woman. Bitch. Retrieved from https://www.bitchmedia.org/article/the-female-persuasion-antiheroes-review

Dean, Michele. (2018, April 12). A Map of Complications. The New Republic. Retrieved from https://newrepublic.com/article/147812/map-complications-feminists-animate-meg-wolitzer-novel

Dunham, L. (2018, March 29). Meg Wolitzer’s New Novel Takes On the Politics of Women’s Mentorship. The New York Times. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/29/books/review/review-female-persuasion-meg-wolitzer-lena-dunham.html

Feathers, L. (2018, April 12). Whose Feminism Is It Anyway? Meg Wolitzer’s “The Female Persuasion.” Los Angeles Review of Books. Retrieved from https://lareviewofbooks.org/article/whose-feminism-is-it-anyway-meg-wolitzers-the-female-persuasion/#

Fischer, M. (2018, April/May). Daring to Be Good. Bookforum. Retrieved from https://www.bookforum.com/inprint/025_01/19394

Franklin, R. (2018, May). The Female Persuasion Should Be a Literary Breakout. Will It Be? The Atlantic. Retrieved from https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2018/05/the-persuasive-female/556847/

Gentry, A. (2018, March 26). Review: 'The Female Persuasion' by Meg Wolitzer. Chicagp Tribune. Retrieved from https://www.chicagotribune.com/lifestyles/books/sc-books-female-persuasion-meg-wolitzer-0328-story.html

Grady, C. (2018, April 5). The Female Persuasion is a brutally intimate novel about intergenerational feminism. Vox. Retrieved from https://www.vox.com/culture/2018/4/5/17192874/female-persuasion-meg-wolitzer-review

Greenblatt, L. (2018, March 29). Meg Wolitzer tells a vital feminist love story with The Female Persuasion: EW review. Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved from https://ew.com/books/2018/03/29/meg-wolitzer-female-persuasion-book-review/

Ha, T. (2018, April 3). Meg Wolitzer’s “The Female Persuasion” Deftly Holds Up a Mirror to White, Privileged Feminism. Quartzy. Retrieved from https://qz.com/quartzy/1242732/meg-wolitzers-the-female-persuasion-deftly-holds-up-a-mirror-to-white-privileged-feminism/

Haggas, C. (2018, February 15). The Female Persuasion. Booklist. Retrieved from https://www.booklistonline.com/The-Female-Persuasion-Meg-Wolitzer/pid=9238048

Heiny, K. (2018, March 29). Meg Wolitzer’s ‘Female Persuasion’ captures our era’s gender politics. The Washington Post. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/entertainment/books/meg-wolitzers-female-persuasion-captures-our-eras-gender-politics/2018/03/29/986ac768-312f-11e8-94fa-32d48460b955_story.html?utm_term=.f6f0e1c74508

Keisling, L. (2018, April 23). Crimes of the Patriarchy. Slate. Retrieved from https://slate.com/culture/2018/04/the-female-persuasion-by-meg-wolitzer-reviewed.html

Kirkus. (2018, February 6). The Female Persuasion. Kirkus Reviews. Retrieved from https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/meg-wolitzer/the-female-persuasion/

Kreizman, M. (2018, March 29). Meg Wolitzer's 'The Female Persuasion' leads the charge toward a better, feminist world. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved from https://www.latimes.com/books/la-ca-jc-meg-wolitzer-20180329-story.html

L'Heureux, C. (2018, April 3). What Does a Modern Feminist Mentorship Look Like? The Cut. Retrieved from https://www.thecut.com/2018/04/meg-wolitzer-the-female-persuasion.html

Maran, M. (2018, April 19). ‘The Female Persuasion,’ by Meg Wolitzer. San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved from https://www.sfchronicle.com/books/article/The-Female-Persuasion-by-Meg-Wolitzer-12851364.php

Marcus, H. (2018, April 11). ‘The Female Persuasion’ Relies on an Outdated Model of Mentorship. Electric Literature. Retrieved from https://electricliterature.com/the-female-persuasion-relies-on-an-outdated-model-of-mentorship-ecdfaece77fb

Mchugh, C. (2018, April 5). Meg Wolizter Explores Feminism and Friendship in The Female Persuasion. TIME. Retrieved from http://time.com/5228989/meg-wolizter-explores-feminism-and-friendship-the-female-persuasion/

Publishers Weekly. (2017, December 11). The Female Persuasion. Publishers Weekly. Retrieved from https://www.publishersweekly.com/978-1-59448-840-5

Quinn, A. (2018, April 3). Meg Wolitzer Asks The Big Questions In 'The Female Persuasion. NPR. Retrieved from https://www.npr.org/2018/04/03/598234453/meg-wolitzer-asks-the-big-questions-in-the-female-persuasion

Read, B. (2018, March 27). 10 of the Most Anticipated Books of Spring 2018. Vogue. Retreved from https://www.vogue.com/article/best-books-spring-2018

Reynolds, M. (2018, April 3). Not Persuaded. Jezebel. Retrieved from https://jezebel.com/not-persuaded-1824241727

Rhule, P. (2018, April 2). Meg Wolitzer is having a Me Too moment with timely new novel, 'The Female Persuasion.' USA Today. Retrieved from https://www.usatoday.com/story/life/books/2018/04/02/meg-wolitzers-timely-new-novel-female-persuasion-arrives-me-too-moment/466866002/

Sacks, Sam. (2018, March 30). Fiction Chronicle: The Feminist Circle of Life. The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved from https://www.wsj.com/articles/fiction-chronicle-the-feminist-circle-of-life-1522440972

Schwartz, A. (2018, April 9). Meg Wolitzer Rides the Feminist Waves. The New Yorker. Retrieved from https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2018/04/09/meg-wolitzer-rides-the-feminist-waves

Solomon, A. (2018, April 13). Meg Wolitzer’s timely epic of women and ambition. Boston Globe. Retrieved from https://www.bostonglobe.com/arts/books/2018/04/12/meg-wolitzer-timely-epic-women-and-ambition/KyPb0ZtSDG3pWdKEgDyG5L/story.html?event=event12

The Ensemble

Apte, P. (2018, May 1). The Ensemble. Booklist. Retrieved from https://www.booklistonline.com/The-Ensemble-Aja-Gabel/pid=9319878

Canfield, D. and Rankin, S. (2018, June 26). What we're reading: EW's books staff picks their recent favorites. Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved from https://ew.com/books/2018/06/26/book-picks-june-2018/

Entenman, E. (2018, June 8). Aja Gabel's The Ensemble paints a melodic portrait of an artistic life, and it will absolutely blow you away. Hello Giggles. Retrieved from https://hellogiggles.com/reviews-coverage/the-ensemble-aja-gabel-interview/

Fulwood, J. (2018, April 24). Review: The Ensemble. Shelf Awareness. Retrieved from https://www.shelf-awareness.com/issue.html?issue=3234#m40193

Gabel, A. (2018, May 11). This Is What It’s Like To Be A Classical Musician. Buzzfeed. Retrieved from https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/ajagabel/the-ensemble-aja-gabel-summer-fiction

Gabel, A. (2018, May 30). THE WORLD IS FULL OF REJECTIONS: FIND THE ONE THAT’S RIGHT FOR YOU. Literary Hub. Retrieved from https://lithub.com/the-world-is-full-of-rejections-find-the-one-thats-right-for-you/

Gabel, A. and Benjamin, C. (2018, May 15). Stepping Back from the Cliff: A Conversation Between Aja Gabel and Chloe Benjamin. Los Angeles Review of Books. Retrieved from https://blog.lareviewofbooks.org/interviews/stepping-back-cliff-conversation-aja-gabel-chloe-benjamin/

Grady, C. (2018, May 31). The Ensemble is a likable debut novel with little plot but a whole lot of feelings. Vox. Retrieved from https://www.vox.com/culture/2018/5/31/17361854/ensemble-aja-gabel-review

Goop. (2018). The 15 Books We’re Reading This Summer. Goop. Retrieved from https://goop.com/travel/culture/the-15-books-were-reading-this-summer/

Hart, M. (2018). The 15 Best Books to Take to the Beach This June. Oprah.com. Retrieved from http://www.oprah.com/book/best-books-june-2018-the-ensemble#ixzz5g6CxZuiA

Hoffert, B. (2018, May 16). LJ Talks to First Novelist Aja Gabel | LibraryReads Author Spotlight. Library Journal. Retrieved from https://www.libraryjournal.com/?detailStory=lj-talks-to-first-novelist-aja-gabel-libraryreads-author-spotlight

Horvath, N. and Sile, E. (2018). The Best Books of 2018. Real Simple. Retrieved from https://www.realsimple.com/work-life/entertainment/best-books-of-2018

Iverson, K. (2018, May 2). 15 Must-Read Books For May. Nylon. Retrieved from https://nylon.com/articles/best-books-may-2018

Kriezman, M. (2018, March 15). 10 Books We Can’t Wait to Read This Spring. Vulture. Retrieved from https://www.vulture.com/2018/03/upcoming-new-books-spring-2018.html

Kirkus. (2018, March 5). The Ensemble. Kirkus Reviews. Retrieved from https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/aja-gabel/the-ensemble/

Leavitt, C. (2018, May 17). ‘The Ensemble,’ by Aja Gabel. San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved from https://www.sfgate.com/books/article/The-Ensemble-by-Aja-Gabel-12923458.php?t=e756a3cff9

Nicolaou, E. (2018, July 10). Brilliant Books To Bring To The Beach This Summer. Refinery 29. Retrieved from https://www.refinery29.com/en-us/best-summer-books-2018

Publishers Weekly. (2018, March 12). The Ensemble. Publishers Weekly. Retrieved from https://www.publishersweekly.com/978-0-7352-1476-7

Sacks, S. (2018, May 11). Fiction Chronicle: Measure for Measure. The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved from https://www.wsj.com/articles/fiction-chronicle-measure-for-measure-1526076604?mod=searchresults&page=1&pos=1

Simon, S. (2018, May 19). The String Quartet As Chosen Family In 'The Ensemble'. NPR. Retrieved from https://www.npr.org/2018/05/19/612286311/the-string-quartet-as-chosen-family-in-the-ensemble

Vitcavage, A. (2018, May 15). Turning a Passion for Classical Music into Fiction. Electric Literature. Retrieved from https://electricliterature.com/turning-a-passion-for-classical-music-into-fiction-eeb887136062

The Friend

Alter, A. (2018, December 13). With ‘The Friend,’ Sigrid Nunez Becomes an Overnight Literary Sensation, 23 Years and Eight Books Later. The New York Times. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/13/books/the-friend-sigrid-nunez.html

Bobrow, E. (2018, February 23). Review: Dog Days. The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved from https://www.wsj.com/articles/review-dog-days-1519418320

Garner, Dwight. (2018, February 5). Mourning With the Help of a Great Dane. The New York Times. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/05/books/review-friend-sigrid-nunez.html

Gerard, K. (2018, January 18). The Friend. Shelf Awareness. Retrieved from https://www.shelf-awareness.com/issue.html?issue=3166#m39077

Grady, C. (2018, November 15). Sigrid Nunez wins the 2018 National Book Award for The Friend. Vox. Retrieved from https://www.vox.com/culture/2018/11/15/18096683/2018-national-book-award-winners-sigrid-nunez-friend

Gornick, V. (2018, February/March). The Odd Couple. Bookforum. Retrieved from https://bookforum.com/inprint/024_05/19140

Haas, L. (2018, February). New Books. Harpers Magazine. Retrieved from https://harpers.org/archive/2018/02/new-books-194/

Kirkus. (2017, October 1). The Friend. Kirkus Reviews. https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/sigrid-nunez/the-friend-nunez/

McAlpin, H. (2018, January 28). 'The Friend' Is No Shaggy Dog Story. NPR. Retrieved from https://www.npr.org/2018/01/23/579233885/the-friend-is-no-shaggy-dog-story

New Yorker. (2018, March 12). Briefly Noted. The New Yorker. Retrieved from https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2018/03/12/rise-and-kill-first-1947-green-and-the-friend

Publishers Weekly. (2017, December 4). The Friend. Publishers Weekly. Retrieved from https://www.publishersweekly.com/978-0-7352-1944-1

Ragsdale, M. (2018, February 1). The 15 Best Fiction Books Coming Out in February 2018 Features Tons Of Extraordinary Women. Bustle. Retrieved from https://www.bustle.com/p/the-15-best-fiction-books-coming-out-in-february-2018-features-tons-of-extraordinary-women-8019981

Rebolini, A. (2018, February 6). 9 New Books We Think You'll Love. Buzzfeed. Retrieved from https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/ariannarebolini/books-to-read-and-love-this-month

Soderlind, L. (2018, March 9). For the Love of a Dog. New York Times Book Review. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/09/books/review/sigrid-nunez-the-friend.html

Taylor, C. (2018, March 21). Melancholy Dane: Sigrid Nunez’s “The Friend”. Los Angeles Book Review. Retrieved from https://lareviewofbooks.org/article/melancholy-dane-sigrid-nunezs-the-friend/#!

Zaleska, M. (2018, February 13). YOU CAN’T EXPLAIN DEATH TO AN ANIMAL: AN INTERVIEW WITH SIGRID NUNEZ. Literary Hub. Retrieved from https://lithub.com/you-cant-explain-death-to-an-animal-an-interview-with-sigrid-nunez/

Appendix B: Facebook and Instagram Posts

The Female Persuasion

Riverhead Books. (2017A, December 21). “I wanted to write about the people you meet who change your life forever.” –Meg Wolitzer talked to TIME about her new book THE FEMALE PERSUASION [Facebook status update]. Retrieved from https://www.facebook.com/RiverheadBooks/posts/10156072626156908

Riverhead Books [@riverheadbooks]. (2017B, December 9). "Ambitious and satisfying...This insightful and resonant novel explores what it is to both embrace womanhood and suffer because of it" -starred Publishers Weekly [Instagram photograph]. Retrieved from https://www.instagram.com/p/Bce3NAohHZ-/

Riverhead Books. (2018A, January 3). What early 2018 books are The Rumpus editors anticipating? [Facebook status update]. Retrieved from https://www.facebook.com/RiverheadBooks/posts/10156110423976908

Riverhead Books. (2018B, November 12). Congratulations to Lauren Groff, Meg Wolitzer, and Katie Williams whose books FLORIDA, THE FEMALE PERSUASION, and TELL THE MACHINE GOODNIGHT were all included on Kirkus Reviews's best literary fiction of 2018 roundup! [Facebook status update]. Retrieved from https://www.facebook.com/RiverheadBooks/posts/10156956858641908

Riverhead Books. (2018C, December 19). Meg Wolitzer's THE FEMALE PERSUASION tops Glamour's list of most beloved and best-reviewed books this year! [Facebook status update]. Retrieved from https://www.facebook.com/RiverheadBooks/posts/10157049405106908

Riverhead Books. (2018D, December 30). People declares THE FEMALE PERSUASION one of the best reads of 2018 [Facebook status update]. Retrieved from https://www.facebook.com/RiverheadBooks/posts/10157047092086908

Riverhead Books. (2018E, April 12). The dilemmas Meg Wolitzer’s characters confront may not seem world-changing. And yet their struggles to resolve those challenges and to discern the right thing to do remind us of how far we’ll have to go [Facebook status update]. Retrieved from https://www.facebook.com/RiverheadBooks/posts/10156410909406908

Riverhead Books [@riverheadbooks]. (2018F, November 19). Uh whoops were we supposed to get out of bed today? #isitThanksgivingyet #Mondays [Instagram photograph]. Retrieved from https://www.instagram.com/p/BqXZfzZFWSE/

Riverhead Books. (2018G, March 29). Los Angeles Times heaps on the praise for Meg Wolitzer's THE FEMALE PERSUASION, calling it "a big, fat, delicious book about feminism and the power of female mentorship." [Facebook status update]. Retrieved from https://www.facebook.com/RiverheadBooks/posts/10156373665796908

Riverhead Books. (2018H, February 1). We couldn't agree more, Kirkus Reviews! [Facebook status update]. Retrieved from https://www.facebook.com/RiverheadBooks/photos/a.169960301907/10156197640701908

Riverhead Books [@riverheadbooks]. (2018I, March 2). FRIDAY GIVEAWAY ALERT We’re just one month away from the release of @megwolitzer’s “can’t-put-it-down...perfect feminist blockbuster”* THE FEMALE PERSUASION. Want a gorgeous finished copy of this new novel? Tell us who your feminist heroes are in a comment below for a chance to win! [Instagram photograph]. Retrieved from https://www.instagram.com/p/Bf1fdKdhzEg/

The Ensemble

Riverhead Books [@riverheadbooks]. (2018J, June 7). We’re one day closer to Friday, which means it’s time to pick a weekend read! What book are you planning to read? (@booknerdnative) [Instagram photograph]. Retrieved from https://www.instagram.com/p/BjuRFDhn-LI/

Riverhead Books [@riverheadbooks]. (2018K, March 23). FRIDAY GIVEAWAY It snowed on the East Coast this week, which makes us even more eager for spring’s most anticipated debut novel Tag a friend in a comment below and you both could win early copies of THE ENSEMBLE by @ajagabel! [Instagram photograph]. Retrieved from https://www.instagram.com/p/Bgqkmb6hMXV/

Riverhead Books [@riverheadbooks]. (2018L, January 26). FRIDAY GIVEAWAY. We can’t wait for everyone to read THE ENSEMBLE, the highly anticipated debut novel by @ajagabel out this May that @cheemobile calls “sweeping, romantic, elegiac...Aja Gabel is a phenomenon.” Want to win a *signed* galley? Tell us why you want to read THE ENSEMBLE in a comment below for a chance to win! [Instagram photograph]. Retrieved from https://www.instagram.com/p/Bea2a8iBN_g/

Riverhead Books. (2018M, June 27). We’re so excited that Aja Gabel’s THE ENSEMBLE was chosen by cupcakes and cashmere as their book club pick of the month! [Facebook status update]. Retrieved from https://www.facebook.com/RiverheadBooks/photos/a.10152378774576908/10156600200396908/?type=3&theater

Riverhead Books [@riverheadbooks]. (2018P, June 1). FRIDAY GIVEAWAY. It’s the beginning of #Pride Month and we love to show off our colors! Tell us your favorite book written by an LGBTQ author or with LGBTQ themes in a comment below for a chance to win some of our favorites [Instagram photograph]. Retrieved from https://www.instagram.com/p/Bje04j_BmD4/

The Friend

Riverhead Books. (2018N, February 7). "Don't flinch. Life is difficult and complicated and writing is hard; you have to tell the truth. You have to face certain things. You should go there, wherever it is, wherever it’s taking you." Sigrid Nunez speaks to Kirkus Reviews about writing, grief, and her new novel, THE FRIEND [Facebook status update]. Retrieved from https://www.facebook.com/RiverheadBooks/posts/10156215015316908

Riverhead Books. (2018O, February 6). "The writing profession, in THE FRIEND, is viewed as a series of little murders of the soul. Writers are weird, jealous, greedy, backbiting, warped from the undersea compression of competition in Manhattan. “If reading really does increase empathy, as we are constantly being told that it does,” the narrator says, “it appears that writing takes some away.”" -- The New York Times. THE FRIEND by Sigrid Nunez is on sale today! [Facebook status update]. Retrieved from https://www.facebook.com/RiverheadBooks/posts/10156209803256908

Appendix C – Figures

Figure 1: Adler, E. (2015). Previously on the Neapolitan Novels: Your Study Guide to Elena Ferrante. Electric Literature. Retrieved from https://electricliterature.com/previously-on-the-neapolitan-novels-your-study-guide-to-elena-ferrante-39255bc3118a

Figure 2: Denzer, B. (2018). The Female Persuasion. Retrieved from https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/310197/the-female-persuasion-by-meg-wolitzer/

Figure 3: Riverhead Books [@riverheadbooks]. (2017B, December 9). "Ambitious and satisfying...This insightful and resonant novel explores what it is to both embrace womanhood and suffer because of it" -starred Publishers Weekly [Instagram photograph]. Retrieved from https://www.instagram.com/p/Bce3NAohHZ-/

Figure 4: Riverhead Books [@riverheadbooks]. (2018F, November 19). Uh whoops were we supposed to get out of bed today? #isitThanksgivingyet #Mondays [Instagram photograph]. Retrieved from https://www.instagram.com/p/BqXZfzZFWSE/

Figure 5: Han, G. (2018). The Ensemble. Retrieved from https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/550847/the-ensemble-by-aja-gabel/9780735214767/

Figure 6: Riverhead Books [@riverheadbooks]. (2018J, June 7). We’re one day closer to Friday, which means it’s time to pick a weekend read! What book are you planning to read? (@booknerdnative) [Instagram photograph]. Retrieved from https://www.instagram.com/p/BjuRFDhn-LI/

Figure 7: Riverhead Books [@riverheadbooks]. (2018K, March 23). FRIDAY GIVEAWAY It snowed on the East Coast this week, which makes us even more eager for spring’s most anticipated debut novel Tag a friend in a comment below and you both could win early copies of THE ENSEMBLE by @ajagabel! [Instagram photograph]. Retrieved from https://www.instagram.com/p/Bgqkmb6hMXV/

Figure 8: Ortega, N. (2018). The Friend. Retrieved from https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/558005/the-friend-by-sigrid-nunez/9780735219458/
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