Animal Dreams

( 82 )

Overview

"Animals dream about the things they do in the day time just like people do. If you want sweet dreams, you've got to live a sweet life." So says Loyd Peregrina, a handsome Apache trainman and latter-day philosopher. But when Codi Noline returns to her hometown, Loyd's advice is painfully out of her reach. Dreamless and at the end of her rope, Codi comes back to Grace, Arizona to confront her past and face her ailing, distant father. What the finds is a town threatened by a silent environmental catastrophe, some startling clues to her own ...

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Overview

"Animals dream about the things they do in the day time just like people do. If you want sweet dreams, you've got to live a sweet life." So says Loyd Peregrina, a handsome Apache trainman and latter-day philosopher. But when Codi Noline returns to her hometown, Loyd's advice is painfully out of her reach. Dreamless and at the end of her rope, Codi comes back to Grace, Arizona to confront her past and face her ailing, distant father. What the finds is a town threatened by a silent environmental catastrophe, some startling clues to her own identity, and a man whose view of the world could change the course of her life. Blending flashbacks, dreams, and Native American legends, Animal Dreams is a suspenseful love story and a moving exploration of life's largest commitments. With this work, the acclaimed author of The Bean Trees and Homeland and Other Stories sustains her familiar voice while giving readers her most remarkable book yet.

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Editorial Reviews

Chicago Tribune
Kingsolver is a writer of rare ambition and unequivocal talent . . . Animal Dreams is a complex, passionate, bravely challenging book.
New York Newsday
Kingsolver probes the human heart with uncommon wisdom. Animal Dreams is a gracefully written, large-spirited novel. Anchored on the earth, it dares to soar into the ethereal.
Detroit News and Free Press
One of the year's best works of fiction.
Cosmopolitan
Animal Dreams is a novel that feel closer to the truth about modern lives than anything I've read in a long time . . . An astonishing book that ought to put Barbara Kingsolver in the first ranks of fiction writers.
Washington Post Book World
Rich, complex, witty . . . This is a sweet book, full of bitter pain; a beautiful weaving of the light and the dark. This one will be with us for a long time.
Los Angeles Times Book Review
Kingsolver is giving a new voice to our literature. Animal Dreams solidly establishes Kingsolver as someone who will give her public more than one great book.
New York Daily News
An emotional masterpiece . . . A novel in which humor, passion, and superb prose conspire to seize a reader by the heart and by the soul.
Denver Post
A glorious tapestry . . . Animal Dreams is rich fodder for our own sweet, satisfying dreams.
Houston Post
Animal Dreams literally bursts with life. Its description of how one woman finds her way back from the edge of despair seems absolutely perfect . . . Animal Dreams leaves the reader filled with wonder and hope.
San Francisco Chronicle
Kingsolver achieves a fully realized and profoundly moral vision, one that is rooted in the land and our relationship to it.
New York Times Book Review
Barbara Kingsolver demonstrates a special gift for the vivid evocation of landscape and of her characters' state of mind.
Arizona Daily Star
A novel full of aching sadness—as well as joy, humor, insight and wonderful writing.
New York Newsday
Probes the human heart with uncommon wisdom.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060921149
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 8/1/1991
  • Series: Harper Perennial
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 368
  • Lexile: 790L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.44 (w) x 8.02 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Barbara Kingsolver

Barbara Kingsolver's work has been translated into more than twenty languages and has earned a devoted readership at home and abroad. She was awarded the National Humanities Medal, our country's highest honor for service through the arts. She received the 2011 Dayton Literary Peace Prize for the body of her work, and in 2010 won Britain's Orange Prize for The Lacuna. Before she made her living as a writer, Kingsolver earned degrees in biology and worked as a scientist. She now lives with her family on a farm in southern Appalachia.

Biography

According to the biography on her website, Barbara Kingsolver began writing around the age of nine. Her early "oeuvre" included poems, short stories, and essays, including one noteworthy piece on school safety that was published in the local newspaper, helped to pass a local bond issue, and netted the author a $25 savings bond -- "on which she expected to live comfortably into adulthood."

Kingsolver left her native Kentucky to attend DePauw University on a piano scholarship; but intellectual curiosity (the same quality that informs her writing) prompted her to transfer from the music school to the college of liberal arts where she majored in biology. Immediately after college, she traveled in Greece and France and returned to the U.S. to pursue her master's degree in science from the University of Arizona. She worked for a while as a science writer for the university before becoming a freelance journalist. In 1986 she won an Arizona Press Club Award.

Kingsolver's first novel, The Bean Trees, was composed entirely at night during a period of chronic, pregnancy-related insomnia. Published in 1988, this story of a young woman transplanted from Kentucky to Tucson was reviewed enthusiastically by critics. " As clear as air," rhapsodized The New York Times Book Review. "It is the southern novel taken west, its colors as translucent and polished as one of those slices of rose agate from a desert shop." Readers, too, proclaimed the story a delight.

Since then, Kingsolver has produced a string of bestselling novels, including Pigs in Heaven, The Poisonwood Bible (an Oprah's Book club selection), and Prodigal Summer. She has also authored collections of her poems (Another America), short stories (Homeland), and essays (Small Wonders); as well as nonfiction narratives like Animal, Vegetable, Miracle.

Good To Know

In 2008, Kingsolver delivered the commencement address at Duke University, offering graduates advice on "How to be Hopeful."

She is a member of the Rock Bottom Remainders, a rock and roll band consisting of published writers, including Amy Tan, Matt Groening, Dave Barry, and Stephen King among others.

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    1. Date of Birth:
      April 8, 1955
    2. Place of Birth:
      Annapolis, Maryland
    1. Education:
      B.A., DePauw University, 1977; M.S., University of Arizona, 1981
    2. Website:

Read an Excerpt

Hallie's Bones

I am the sister who didn't go to war. I can only tell you my side of the story. Hallie is the one who went south, with her pickup truck and her crop-disease books and her heart dead set on a new world.

Who knows why people do what they do? I stood on a battleground once too, but it was forty years after the fighting was all over: northern France, in 1982, in a field where the farmers' plow blades kept turning up the skeletons of cows. They were the first casualties of the German occupation. In the sudden quiet after the evacuation the cows had died by the thousands in those pastures, slowly, lowing with pain from unmilked udders. But now the farmers who grew sugar beets in those fields were blessed, they said, by the bones. The soil was rich in calcium.

Three years later when my sister talked about leaving Tucson to work in the cotton fields around Chinandega, where farmers were getting ambushed while they walked home with their minds on dinner, all I could think of was France. Those long, flat fields of bone-fed green. Somehow we protect ourselves; it's the nearest I could come to imagining Nicaragua. Even though I know the bones in that ground aren't animal bones.

She left in August after the last rain of the season. Summer storms in the desert are violent things, and clean, they leave you feeling like you have cried. Hallie had never left me before. It was always the other way around, since I'm three years older and have had to do things first. She would just be catching up when I'd go again, swimming farther out into life because I still hadn't found a rock to stand on. Never because I wanted to leave. Hallie and I were so attached, like keenly mismatched Siamese twins conjoined at the back of the mind. We parted again and again and still each time it felt like a medical risk, as if we were being liberated at some terrible cost: the price of a shared organ. We never stopped feeling that knife.

But she went. And true to the laws of family physics, the equal and opposite reaction, I was soon packed up too and headed northeast on a Greyhound bus. In our divergent ways, I believe we were both headed home. I was bound for Grace, Arizona, where Hallie and I were born and raised, and where our father still lived and was said to be losing his mind. It was a Sunday. I had a window seat, and in a Greyhound you're up high. You pass through the land like some rajah on an elephant looking down on your kingdom, which in this case was a scorched bristling landscape and the tops of a lot of cars. It wasn't all that different from my usual view of life, because I'm tall, like my father and Hallie. I don't look like who I am. They do, but I don't.

It was midmorning when I stepped down off the bus in Grace, and I didn't recognize it. Even in fourteen years it couldn't have changed much, though, so I knew it was just me. Grace is made of things that erode too slowly to be noticed: red granite canyon walls, orchards of sturdy old fruit trees past their prime, a shamelessly unpolluted sky. The houses were built in no big hurry back when labor was taken for granted, and now were in no big hurry to decay. Arthritic mesquite trees grew out of impossible crevices in the cliffs, looking as if they could adapt to life on Mars if need be.

I was the only passenger getting off. The short, imperious bus driver opened the baggage door and made a show of dragging out luggage to get to mine, as if I were being difficult. A more accommodating woman, he implied, would be content with whatever bags happened to be right in front. Finally he slapped my two huge suitcases flat out in the dust. He slammed the doors and reclaimed his throne, causing the bus to bark like a dog, leaving a cloud of exhaust in the air, getting the last word, I suppose.

The view from here was orchards: pecan, plum, apple. The highway ran along the river, dividing the orchards like a long, crooked part in a leafy scalp. The trees filled the whole valley floor to the sides of the canyon. Confetti-colored houses perched on the slopes at its edges with their backs to the canyon wall. And up at the head of the canyon was the old Black Mountain copper mine. On the cliff overlooking the valley, the smelter's one brick smokestack pointed obscenely at heaven.

I dragged my bags to the edge of the street. Carlo, my lover of ten years, whom I seemed to have just left, would be sending a trunk from Tucson when he got around to it. I didn't own very much I cared about. I felt emptied-out and singing with echoes, unrecognizable to myself: that particular feeling like your own house on the day you move out. I missed Hallie. Carlo, too--for the lost possibilities. At the point I left, he and I were still sleeping together but that was all, just sleeping, with our backs touching. Sometimes Hallie would cough in the next room and I'd wake up to find my arm over his shoulder, my fingers touching his chest, but that's only because it takes your sleeping self years to catch up to where you really are. Pay attention to your dreams: when you go on a trip, in your dreams you will still be home. Then after you've come home you'll dream of where you were. It's a kind of jet lag of the consciousness.

Copyright © 1991 by Barbara Kingsolver.

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Reading Group Guide

Plot Summary:

 

If you want sweet dreams, you've got to live a sweet life."
- Loyd Peregrina in Animal Dreams

Cynical and self-absorbed, Codi Noline has been drifting in an aimless relationship and through a series of jobs when she packs up and returns home to the town of Grace, Arizona to care for her physician father, who has Alzheimers, and to teach high school science. Emotionally distant from her childhood and father, feeling herself to be an outsider and a failure, Codi sees nothing but differences between herself and her younger sister, Hallie, a political activist, and now, a volunteer worker in Nicaragua. Through her involvements with Loyd Peregrina (a handsome trainman of Pueblo, Navajo, and Apache descent), the local matriarchs of the "Stitch and Bitch Club," and her students, and through reading Hallie's letters from Nicaragua, Codi gradually lets go of her defensive isolation. Slowly, she recovers her connection to a sense of self and a community that has always been there, but she had forgotten. When her hometown is threatened with environmental catastrophe, she finds herself, like Hallie, taking responsibility for changing the world around her.

-1990 Edward Abbey Award for Ecofiction
-1991 PEN Center USA West Literary Award for Fiction
-1991 American Library Association Best Books of the Year
-1991 American Library Association Best Books for Young Adults

Kingsolver on Animal Dreams:
"Animal Dreams was the first novel I wrote on purpose, so it's more calculated thematically than The Bean Trees. The question I beganwith was this: why do some people engage with the world and its problems, while others turn their backs on it? And why is it that these two sorts of people often occur even in the same family? I'm very curious about this because I'm a human rights activist myself. So I invented two sisters with apparently opposite personalities, and then I invested them with a family and began to work backwards to find the point in their shared history that would have pushed them into opposite directions."

Topics For Discussion
1. Why are Hallie and Codi different? What happened that caused them to take such different life paths? How and why does Codi change? Why does she become more engaged with the world?

2. One theme of the novel is the relationship between humans and the natural world. What does the novel have to say about the difference between Native American and Anglo American culture in relation to nature? How do creation stories, such as the Pueblo creation legend and the Garden of Eden story, continue to influence culture and behavior?

3.How do you feel about Doc Homer? What kind of parent was he, and why? In what ways did his strange point of view serve as a vehicle for the novel's themes of memory, amnesia, and identity?

About the Author:

Barbara Kingsolver was born on April 8, 1955. She grew up "in the middle of an alfalfa field," in the part of eastern Kentucky that lies between the opulent horse farms and the impoverished coal fields. While her family has deep roots in the region, she never imagined staying there herself. "The options were limited--grow up to be a farmer or a farmer's wife."

Kingsolver has always been a storyteller: "I used to beg my mother to let me tell her a bedtime story." As a child, she wrote stories and essays and, beginning at the age of eight, kept a journal religiously. Still, it never occurred to Kingsolver that she could become a professional writer. Growing up in a rural place, where work centered mainly on survival, writing didn't seem to be a practical career choice. Besides, the writers she read, she once explained, "were mostly old, dead men. It was inconceivable that I might grow up to be one of those myself . . . "

Kingsolver left Kentucky to attend DePauw University in Indiana, where she majored in biology. She also took one creative writing course, and became active in the last anti-Vietnam War protests. After graduating in 1977, Kingsolver lived and worked in widely scattered places. In the early eighties, she pursued graduate studies in biology and ecology at the University of Arizona in Tucson, where she received a Masters of Science degree. She also enrolled in a writing class taught by author Francine Prose, whose work Kingsolver admires.

Kingsolver's fiction is rich with the language and imagery of her native Kentucky. But when she first left home, she says, "I lost my accent . . . [P]eople made terrible fun of me for the way I used to talk, so I gave it up slowly and became something else." During her years in school and two years spent living in Greece and France she supported herself in a variety of jobs: as an archaeologist, copy editor, X-ray technician, housecleaner, biological researcher and translator of medical documents. After graduate school, a position as a science writer for the University of Arizona soon led her into feature writing for journals and newspapers. Her numerous articles have appeared in a variety of publications, including The Nation, The New York Times, and Smithsonian, and many of them are included in the collection, High Tide in Tucson: Essays from Now or Never. In 1986 she won an Arizona Press Club award for outstanding feature writing, and in 1995, after the publication of High Tide in Tucson, Kingsolver was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Letters from her alma mater, De Pauw University.

Kingsolver credits her careers in scientific writing and journalism with instilling in her a writer's discipline and broadening her "fictional possiblities." Describing herself as a shy person who would generally prefer to stay at home with her computer, she explains that "journalism forces me to meet and talk with people I would never run across otherwise."

From 1985 through 1987, Kingsolver was a freelance journalist by day, but she was writing fiction by night. Married to a chemist in 1985, she suffered from insomnia after becoming pregnant the following year. Instead of following her doctor's recommendation to scrub the bathroom tiles with a toothbrush, Kingsolver sat in a closet and began to write The Bean Trees, a novel about a young woman who leaves rural Kentucky (accent intact) and finds herself living in urban Tucson.

The Bean Trees, published by HarperCollins in 1988, and reissued in a special ten-year anniversary hardcover edition in 1998, was enthusiastically received by critics. But, perhaps more important to Kingsolver, the novel was read with delight and, even, passion by ordinary readers. "A novel can educate to some extent," she told Publishers Weekly. "But first, a novel has to entertain--that's the contract with the reader: you give me ten hours and I'll give you a reason to turn every page. I have a commitment to accessiblity. I believe in plot. I want an English professor to understand the symbolism while at the same time I want the people I grew up with--who may not often read anything but the Sears catalogue--to read my books."

For Kingsolver, writing is a form of political activism. When she was in her twenties she discovered Doris Lessing. "I read the Children of Violence novels and began to understand how a person could write about the problems of the world in a compelling and beautiful way. And it seemed to me that was the most important thing I could ever do, if I could ever do that."

The Bean Trees was followed by the collection, Homeland and Other Stories (1989), the novels Animal Dreams (1990), and Pigs in Heaven (1993), and the bestselling High Tide in Tucson: Essays from Now and Never (1995). Kingsolver has also published a collection of poetry, Another America: Otra America (Seal Press, 1992, 1998), and a nonfiction book, Holding the Line: Women in the Great Arizona Mine Strike of l983 (ILR Press/Cornell University Press, 1989, 1996). Her most recent work is The Poisonwood Bible, a story of the wife and four daughters of a fierce, evangelical Baptist who takes his family and mission to the Belgian Congo in 1959. A tale of one family's tragic undoing and remarkable reconstruction, over the course of three decades in post-colonial Africa, The Poisonwood Bible is set against one of history's most dramatic political parables. It is a compelling exploration of religion, conscience, imperialist arrogance and the many paths to redemption?and Barbara Kingsolver's most ambitious work ever.

Barbara Kingsolver presently lives outside of Tucson with her husband Steven Hopp, and her two daughters, Camille from a previous marriage, and Lily, who was born in 1996. When not writing or spending time with her family, Barbara gardens, cooks, hikes, works as an environmental activist and human-rights advocate, and plays hand drums and keyboards with her husband, guitarist, Steven Hopp.

Given that Barbara Kingsolver's work covers the psychic and geographical territories that she knows firsthand, readers often assume that her work is autobiographical. "There are little things that people who know me might recognize in my novels," she acknowledges. "But my work is not about me. I don't ever write about real people. That would be stealing, first of all. And second of all, art is supposed to be better than that. If you want a slice of life, look out the window. An artist has to look out that window, isolate one or two suggestive things, and embroider them together with poetry and fabrication, to create a revelation. If we can't, as artists, improve on real life, we should put down our pencils and go bake bread."

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 82 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(54)

4 Star

(12)

3 Star

(11)

2 Star

(3)

1 Star

(2)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 82 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 1, 2012

    It's an alright book

    I love the story of Codi's life and about everything that has happened to her since moving back to Grace. It's a great love story where the character goes back to her first love. There are parts where it does get really boring but then it gets to the point where i could not put it down. The fact that Codi doesnt have a good relationship with her father but stills go back to help him in his time of need really means alot to me. I like how Codi has grown through the book from forgetting to water he plants to teaching a hishschool class is really important.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 14, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Barbara Kingsolver, Animal Dreams

    In Animal Dreams, Codi Noline has parted from her beloved sister, Hallie, who has decided to journey to Nicaragua to lend her assistance to local farmers. An act that Codi comes to believe is heroic, in contrast to her own life and her own journey back to the place of her birth - Grace, Arizona. Struggling with memories she can no longer recall, feeling utterly adrift wherever she may be, Codi sees nothing heroic in herself, nothing worthwhile. And bereft of a sense of belonging, she arrives back home already preparing to leave yet again. Unless she can somehow find meaning, not only in where she resides and the people around her, but in herself. This is now the second novel that I have read from Barbara Kingsolver, and I am enchanted. Kingsolver is a wonderful writer. I am stunned at how well she can imbue seemingly simple characters and places and events with such unnerving, yet compelling complexity. Her prose is smooth, her language so real, yet so inspiring. A beautiful work indeed.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 16, 2010

    One of the Best Books I Have Ever Read

    I LOVE Animal Dreams. Beautiful language, imagery, and characters. The ending made me cry, which has only happened with my most favorite novels.

    I disagree with other reviewers. I prefer Animal Dreams to the Bean Trees. I began to read the BT after AD, and couldn't get into it nearly as much as Animal Dreams. I recommend this book to people often!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 17, 2005

    not bad but not great

    i wasnt too crazy for this book. the parts i really liked were when she was with loyd, but otherwise i could take-or-leave the book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 7, 2014

    Liv

    Walks to tracy and kisses he

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 6, 2014

    Jade

    She pushed her back. "St<_>ip me competely."

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 5, 2014

    Gina

    Continued fingering madi then while doing so leaned in and flicked her tongue over madis cli.t continuously

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 7, 2014

    Hannah

    I gtg

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 6, 2014

    Madi

    "Geez. One second of enjoyment and everybody gone."

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 8, 2014

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 7, 2014

    Ttacy

    Hugge her and kissed back

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 7, 2014

    Aphrodite

    I thrust my hips foward so ur hand touchs my puzzy and moan as u touch my br east and puzy kissing u

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 16, 2014

    A nive A novel about healing.

    Wonderful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 12, 2014

    Helliw

    Helliw

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 23, 2013

    Nursey

    Nursey of snowflakeclan

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 11, 2013

    An okay book

    It was okay...not as good as some of her others. She takes too many sidetracks and is too often on a tangent and you sit there and say to yourself "now where does this fit in the scene?" Then by the end she crams it all in like she got so tired in the other parts and tosses two years on a page, like its very rushed at the end. The main character is seriously damaged but then pulls her entire horrible life into perfect harmony in a blink of an eye. It just doesn't make it for me because of the quick draw magraw ending.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 2, 2013

    Ovle

    Boo!!!!!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 20, 2013

    Animal Dreams

    Good but not her best

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 13, 2013

    Amazing

    Love this book, simply amazing

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 26, 2012

    I love this book!

    One of my favorite books!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 82 Customer Reviews

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