The Forgotten Waltz: A Novel

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Overview

2012 Winner of the Andrew Carnegie Award for Excellence in Literature
A haunting story of desire: a recollection of the bewildering speed of attraction, the irreparable slip into longing.
In Terenure, a pleasant suburb of Dublin, it has snowed. Gina Moynihan, girl about town, recalls the trail of lust and happenstance that brought her to fall for "the love of her life," Seán Vallely. As the city outside comes to a halt, Gina remembers their ...
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Overview

2012 Winner of the Andrew Carnegie Award for Excellence in Literature
A haunting story of desire: a recollection of the bewildering speed of attraction, the irreparable slip into longing.
In Terenure, a pleasant suburb of Dublin, it has snowed. Gina Moynihan, girl about town, recalls the trail of lust and happenstance that brought her to fall for "the love of her life," Seán Vallely. As the city outside comes to a halt, Gina remembers their affair: long afternoons made blank by bliss and denial. Now, as the silent streets and falling snow make the day luminous and full of possibility, Gina awaits the arrival of Seán's fragile, twelve-year-old daughter, Evie-the complication, and gravity, of this second life.
In this extraordinary novel, Anne Enright speaks directly to the readers she won with The Gathering. Here again is the momentous drama of everyday life; the volatile connections between people; the wry, accurate take on families, marriage, and brittle middle age. With The Forgotten Waltz Enright turns her attention to love, following another unforgettable heroine on a journey of the heart. Writing at the height of her powers, this is Enright's tour de force, a novel of intelligence, passion, and distinction.

Winner of the 2012 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In this gorgeous critique of Ireland as the Celtic Tiger draws its dying breaths, Enright chronicles an affair between 32-year-old Gina Moynihan, and Seán Vallely, a rich, dutiful husband and a devoted if somewhat inept father to the otherworldly, epileptic Evie, not yet 13. Set against a backdrop of easy money, second homes, and gratuitous spending, the dissolution of Gina's and Sean's marriages is both an antidote to and a symptom of the economic prosperity that gripped the country until its sudden and devastating fall from grace in 2008: "In Ireland, if you leave the house and there is a divorce, then you lose the house.... You have to sleep there to keep your claim.... You think it is about sex, and then you remember the money." There are, as with any affair, casualties, but what weighs most heavily on Gina is not what will become of her husband, Conor, but rather Evie, who sees Gina kissing her father, and innocently asks if she might be kissed too, oblivious to the fact that this moment heralds the end of her family. She eventually becomes all too aware that her father is gone and that she's stuck with her sad, neurotic mother. And so the question that remains at the end of this masterful and deeply satisfying novel is not just what will happen to Ireland, but what will happen to Evie? (Oct.)
Time Magazine
Booker winner Enright is so good, she can turn falling real estate values into a thing of beauty.— Ed Park
Booklist
“This stunning novel...offers up its brilliance by way of astonishingly effective storytelling. ...The vicissitudes of extramarital love...are tracked with a raw clarity expressed in magnetically precise prose.”
New Yorker
“Enright—wistful, equivocal, angry—gives voice to her characters with remarkable sympathy and precision, and she is never heavy-handed in tracing the connections between the private and public lives of capital.”
Vogue
Moving from the initial riptide of desire to the compromises of Gina's post-divorce life with her lover and his adolescent daughter, whose ungainly presence lends the book its fundamental poignancy, Enright suggests there's a quiet tragedy in adultery's modern-day ordinariness, in which the costs of betrayal are measured less in terms of shame than in house sales.— Megan O'Grady
Elle Magazine
Anne Enright...has written a new, unapologetic kind of adultery novel.

This novel's beauty lies in Enright's spare, poetic, off-kilter prose—at once heart-breaking and subversively funny. It's built of startling little surprises and one fresh sentence after another. Enright captures the heady eroticism of an extramarital affair and the incendiary egomania that accompanies secret passion...— Kate Christensen

Los Angeles Times
Anne Enright tells a funny, dark, no-judgments tale of rapture and ambivalence. … The real magic is in Enright’s prose, which burrows into characters like fingernails into skin, peeling back the hidden layers of ordinary interactions and momentary thoughts. Material that another writer might string across a whole book, Enright burns up in a page, like it’s nothing, using it to create a jagged portrait of Dublin during the recent boom.— Joy Press
Seattle Times
Anne Enright, 2007 Man Booker Prize winner for The Gathering, has once again brought the reader into the heart of a story as old as time, made brand new by her fine hand…. Enright makes the mundane momentous with very few words. The immediacy with which she writes tells the reader to pay attention and look below the surface…. Anne Enright is uncannily deft at portraying lust and passion as they morph into resignation and the realization that one marriage may be much like another…. Addictive reading.— Valerie Ryan
Shelf Awareness
For readers who can countenance unapologetic female infidelity (at least in fiction), The Forgotten Waltz is a must-read—it delivers Enright’s incantatory and highly mineralized prose, her virtuoso capturing of mood and confirms her ability to create nuanced characters of all ages and backgrounds. This mature novel practically flaunts a wry, take-no-prisoners narrator who can make you laugh and wince.— Holloway McCandless
Chicago Tribune
The Forgotten Waltz is so darkly funny, and laser sharp, that it is possible to read it solely as a well-written adultery novel, an infidelity showstopper. … But Enright is too interesting a writer to offer up merely an exquisitely written adultery drama. In the book she makes a profoundly insightful connection between adultery and overspending and borrowing.— Elizabeth Taylor
Time Out Chicago
“Enright’s shimmering prose captures the nuances of light and dark in nature and in society, and she deftly creates memorable characters living in the many and busy little nothings that form the drama of everyday life.”
The Paris Review
“The considerable narrative pleasures of this novel lie in Enright’s luminous language, as she sketches Gina’s attempts to figure out what happened and how and why.”
More Magazine
Amid the heartbreaking bewilderments of reconfigured families, Enright makes us believe entirely in the most ill-begotten brand of love.— Pam Houston
New York Times Book Review
The Forgotten Waltz is a nervy enterprise, an audacious bait-and-switch. Cloaked in a novel about a love affair is a ferocious indictment of the self-loved material girls our era has produced. Enright’s channeling of Gina’s interior monologue is so accurate and unsparing that reading the book is like eavesdropping on a very long, crazily intimate cellphone conversation. It’s a testament to the unwavering fierceness of Enright’s project that I mean this as high praise. We’ve all met people like the characters in her book. Neither evil nor good, they’re merely awful in entirely ordinary ways. And it’s impressive, how skillfully Anne Enright has gotten them on the page.— Francine Prose
O Magazine
In America we like our adultery served straight up: a bubble of illicit passion that ends in regret. That’s not what Irish novelist Anne Enright is serving in The Forgotten Waltz, which forgoes the simple morality tale for something more complex and satisfying. … Casting aside cultural bromides about the immorality of affairs, Enright puts us squarely in the center of a terrible truth: Love can be miraculous—and still destroy everything in its path.—— Lizzie Skurnick
Wall Street Journal
[T]he novel is also a beautiful, subtle examination of intimacy, of family life, and of the enduring connection between father and daughter, a bond that wayward adult passion cannot override … In The Forgotten Waltz reality is crystal clear and the damage that characters do to themselves and others sharply drawn, and yet Ms. Enright is never obvious or heavy-handed. She has made a careful study of the way people interpret and react to their parents, siblings, children and partners and captures much that is startlingly recognizable. The humorous details that she employs and the compassion that she shows for her flawed characters make the book luminous even as it tells a rather bleak story.— Clare McHugh
New York Journal of Books
There are said to be Chinese artists who can etch pretty little pictures on the surface of a grain of rice—scenes that, with the help of a magnifying glass, are revealed in elaborate detail. Anne Enright’s latest book, The Forgotten Waltz, evokes the same kind of wonder, with one significant difference: The scenes the author so delicately sketches are dark dramas of domestic dysfunction. In this case, Ms. Enright has penned an emotional autopsy of an infidelity.— Lisa Verge Higgins
Marie Claire
Anne Enright’s exhilarating novel The Forgotten Waltz … explores a life-altering affair between two seemingly unremarkable Irish professionals with such exquisite attention, honesty, and wit as to make every sentence throb with life. Don’t start this book if you have anything else to do for the rest of the day because it will not get done. … [Our narrator,] Gina is not interested in what she’s supposed to feel but in what she does feel—an ever-shifting, primal range of emotions that readers will recognize with delight. It’s that wonderful feeling that you get from the best fiction: Ah, at last somebody said it.— Kimberly Cutter
Huffington Post
“It’s relatively rare for a sophisticated, thought-provoking novel to titillate, but Anne Enright’s new book The Forgotten Waltz is a scintillating exception to the rule….You know those books that unfold and surround you? This is one of those…. Enright mesmerizes with her insights into the convoluted paths human thoughts and desires take…. But besides its fierce intelligence, this book is just plain sexy.”
Washington Post
Everything in [The Forgotten Waltz] is perfectly engineered, and it’s so beautifully written that you could read it once just for the dazzle of the prose, then start over for the content. … [T]his book makes me feel that Enright could do anything. … It’s hard to say which is more satisfying about this book: its emotional complexities or the frugal elegance of its prose. … I suggest you climb into this book, lean back and trust Enright to take you wherever she wants to go.— Roxana Robinson
Ed Park - Time Magazine
“Booker winner Enright is so good, she can turn falling real estate values into a thing of beauty.”
Francine Prose - New York Times Book Review
“The Forgotten Waltz is a nervy enterprise, an audacious bait-and-switch. Cloaked in a novel about a love affair is a ferocious indictment of the self-loved material girls our era has produced. Enright’s channeling of Gina’s interior monologue is so accurate and unsparing that reading the book is like eavesdropping on a very long, crazily intimate cellphone conversation. It’s a testament to the unwavering fierceness of Enright’s project that I mean this as high praise. We’ve all met people like the characters in her book. Neither evil nor good, they’re merely awful in entirely ordinary ways. And it’s impressive, how skillfully Anne Enright has gotten them on the page.”
Lizzie Skurnick - O Magazine
“In America we like our adultery served straight up: a bubble of illicit passion that ends in regret. That’s not what Irish novelist Anne Enright is serving in The Forgotten Waltz, which forgoes the simple morality tale for something more complex and satisfying. … Casting aside cultural bromides about the immorality of affairs, Enright puts us squarely in the center of a terrible truth: Love can be miraculous—and still destroy everything in its path.”—”
Clare McHugh - Wall Street Journal
“[T]he novel is also a beautiful, subtle examination of intimacy, of family life, and of the enduring connection between father and daughter, a bond that wayward adult passion cannot override … In The Forgotten Waltz reality is crystal clear and the damage that characters do to themselves and others sharply drawn, and yet Ms. Enright is never obvious or heavy-handed. She has made a careful study of the way people interpret and react to their parents, siblings, children and partners and captures much that is startlingly recognizable. The humorous details that she employs and the compassion that she shows for her flawed characters make the book luminous even as it tells a rather bleak story.”
Megan O'Grady - Vogue
“Moving from the initial riptide of desire to the compromises of Gina's post-divorce life with her lover and his adolescent daughter, whose ungainly presence lends the book its fundamental poignancy, Enright suggests there's a quiet tragedy in adultery's modern-day ordinariness, in which the costs of betrayal are measured less in terms of shame than in house sales.”
Kate Christensen - Elle Magazine
“Anne Enright...has written a new, unapologetic kind of adultery novel.
This novel's beauty lies in Enright's spare, poetic, off-kilter prose--at once heart-breaking and subversively funny. It's built of startling little surprises and one fresh sentence after another. Enright captures the heady eroticism of an extramarital affair and the incendiary egomania that accompanies secret passion...”
Joy Press - Los Angeles Times
“Anne Enright tells a funny, dark, no-judgments tale of rapture and ambivalence. … The real magic is in Enright’s prose, which burrows into characters like fingernails into skin, peeling back the hidden layers of ordinary interactions and momentary thoughts. Material that another writer might string across a whole book, Enright burns up in a page, like it’s nothing, using it to create a jagged portrait of Dublin during the recent boom.”
Lisa Verge Higgins - New York Journal of Books
“There are said to be Chinese artists who can etch pretty little pictures on the surface of a grain of rice—scenes that, with the help of a magnifying glass, are revealed in elaborate detail. Anne Enright’s latest book, The Forgotten Waltz, evokes the same kind of wonder, with one significant difference: The scenes the author so delicately sketches are dark dramas of domestic dysfunction. In this case, Ms. Enright has penned an emotional autopsy of an infidelity.””
Kimberly Cutter - Marie Claire
“Anne Enright’s exhilarating novel The Forgotten Waltz … explores a life-altering affair between two seemingly unremarkable Irish professionals with such exquisite attention, honesty, and wit as to make every sentence throb with life. Don’t start this book if you have anything else to do for the rest of the day because it will not get done. … [Our narrator,] Gina is not interested in what she’s supposed to feel but in what she does feel—an ever-shifting, primal range of emotions that readers will recognize with delight. It’s that wonderful feeling that you get from the best fiction: Ah, at last somebody said it.”
Roxana Robinson - Washington Post
“Everything in [The Forgotten Waltz] is perfectly engineered, and it’s so beautifully written that you could read it once just for the dazzle of the prose, then start over for the content. … [T]his book makes me feel that Enright could do anything. … It’s hard to say which is more satisfying about this book: its emotional complexities or the frugal elegance of its prose. … I suggest you climb into this book, lean back and trust Enright to take you wherever she wants to go.”
Valerie Ryan - Seattle Times
“Anne Enright, 2007 Man Booker Prize winner for The Gathering, has once again brought the reader into the heart of a story as old as time, made brand new by her fine hand…. Enright makes the mundane momentous with very few words. The immediacy with which she writes tells the reader to pay attention and look below the surface…. Anne Enright is uncannily deft at portraying lust and passion as they morph into resignation and the realization that one marriage may be much like another…. Addictive reading.”
Holloway McCandless - Shelf Awareness
“For readers who can countenance unapologetic female infidelity (at least in fiction), The Forgotten Waltz is a must-read—it delivers Enright’s incantatory and highly mineralized prose, her virtuoso capturing of mood and confirms her ability to create nuanced characters of all ages and backgrounds. This mature novel practically flaunts a wry, take-no-prisoners narrator who can make you laugh and wince.”
Elizabeth Taylor - Chicago Tribune
“The Forgotten Waltz is so darkly funny, and laser sharp, that it is possible to read it solely as a well-written adultery novel, an infidelity showstopper. … But Enright is too interesting a writer to offer up merely an exquisitely written adultery drama. In the book she makes a profoundly insightful connection between adultery and overspending and borrowing.”
Pam Houston - More Magazine
“Amid the heartbreaking bewilderments of reconfigured families, Enright makes us believe entirely in the most ill-begotten brand of love.”
Library Journal
She's a sharp-tongued home wrecker who doesn't try to ingratiate herself. But in this corrosively beautiful novel from Man Booker Prize winner Enright (The Gathering), you want to drag back Gina Moynihan as she recounts plunging headlong into the affair that will change her life. Gina met Seán Vallely at sister Fiona's house and first made love to him, without much preamble, while drunk at a business conference. Lectured by her sister, who proclaims that their just-deceased mother would have been mortified, Gina silently disagrees. Surely Mum would have appreciated this affair, which has liberated Gina from…what? The dread of domesticity with teddybearish but somewhat dense husband Conor? Boredom with a lock-step job in Ireland's grim economy? Writing with cool, clear-eyed logic, Enright is brave and persuasive enough to paint Seán as less than ideal; he's a rigid bully and not overwhelmingly attractive. Through Gina's determined pursuit of their relationship, we see the stupefying nature of desire, which Enright deftly contrasts with the sometimes equally stupefying nature of parenting; Gina's big competition is not Seán's wife but his sweet, not-quite-right daughter. VERDICT A breathtaking work that will surprise you; highly recommended. [See Prepub Alert, 4/11/11.]—Barbara Hoffert, Library Journal
Kirkus Reviews

An adulterous love affair and Ireland's financial collapse overlap in the consistently impressive latest from the Man Booker Prize winner.

Real estate, materialism and family ties form the background to the story of an intense physical liaison between Gina Moynihan and Sean Vallely, narrated by Gina in a voice simultaneously smart and cynical, wry and all too conscious of the impact of their actions. With exquisite perception, Enright (Yesterday's Weather,2008, etc.) lifts a conventional story of infidelity into a larger study of connection, catastrophe and anguish, leavened by dark humor. What begins as a casual, clandestine sequence of encounters in hotel rooms between two married individuals slowly gathers momentum and, as her mother dies and the property market implodes, Gina's drift away from the husband she has loved becomes complete. The lovers end up living in Gina's mother's old home, previously valued at "two and a bit" but now worth nothing as no one will buy. Not so much a love story, more a consideration of female bonds and choices—men, work, children—and the unruly depths of human emotions, Enright's book once again brings melancholy lyricism to a domestic scenario and lifts it into another dimension.

In rueful, witty, unpredictable and compassionate prose, Enright gives expression to subtle, affecting shades of human interaction.

The Washington Post
…so beautifully written that you could read it once just for the dazzle of the prose, then start over for the content…The sensibility is subtle and complex, as the narrative explores connections between desire and responsibility…and the complicated ways in which duty is refracted into the rest of our lives. It's about love, and sex, and the sinuous, unexpected paths they create, and the way they are inevitably entwined with family. It's about fear and obligation and passion and ways in which we explain our actions to ourselves. The way we give up something we thought essential, for something that is. It's hard to say which is more satisfying about this book: its emotional complexities or the frugal elegance of its prose.
—Roxana Robinson
The New York Times Book Review
The Forgotten Waltz is a nervy enterprise, an audacious bait-and-switch. Cloaked in a novel about a love affair is a ferocious indictment of the self-involved material girls our era has produced. Enright's channeling of Gina's interior monologue is so accurate and unsparing that reading her book is, at times, like eavesdropping on a very long, crazily intimate cellphone conversation. It's a testament to the unwavering fierceness of Enright's project that I mean this as high praise. We've all met people like the characters in her book. Neither evil nor good, they're merely awful in entirely ordinary ways. And it's impressive, how skillfully Anne Enright has gotten them on the page.
—Francine Prose
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780393072556
  • Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 10/3/2011
  • Pages: 263
  • Product dimensions: 9.30 (w) x 6.20 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Anne Enright was born in Dublin, where she now lives and works. She has published two volumes of stories, one book of nonfiction, and four novels. Her novel The Gathering won the Man Booker Prize, and
The Forgotten Waltz won the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 2.5
( 29 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(3)

4 Star

(6)

3 Star

(4)

2 Star

(6)

1 Star

(10)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 29 Customer Reviews
  • Posted June 2, 2011

    What a Treat!

    I'm ashamed to admit that I was unfamiliar with this author's work, so reading an advance copy of The Forgotten Waltz was a wonderful introduction to a truly gifted writer. I had the pleasure of hearing Enright speak recently, and her lilting Irish voice comes through in her writing, filling this novel with interesting phrases and characters. I consider it a cautionary tale for those who might be tempted to stray from their marriage vows: Gina Moynihan, a thirty-something Dubliner, is seemingly happily married until she meets Sean Vallely. A neighbor of her sister's, she is attracted to him, eventually considering him to be the love of her life. Throughout the story, Enright weaves the pleasures (and perils) of an affair and gives us insight into Gina's relationships with her sister, parents, and husband. I was particularly intrigued by her interaction with Sean's young daughter, Evie. All in all, this was a delightful read, and I highly recommend it. I think book clubs will find a lot to chew on, with fodder for some lively discussion. And I'm eagerly anticipating the arrival of Enright's Man Booker Prize winner, "The Gathering," which I've just ordered!

    14 out of 15 people found this review helpful.

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

    Posted January 2, 2012

    Don't waste your time or money

    The plot of this book was so shallow and boring that it was a torture to read. I forced myself to finish it because I paid money for it. The ending was very disjointed.

    2 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted October 22, 2011

    I Also Recommend:

    Surprisingly good read

    This was a surprising book, and held my interest from the third page on, and then never wavered. It had a good plot, and emotional barriers crashed down throughout the book. I really liked this one. My girlfriend and I were happy with our find. It is a treasure. I hope this author gets recognition she deserves. Also happy with The Chateau - another good author that should get recognition for her story telling, and ability to keep the reader glued from first page until the last surprising ending. Twists, turns and all kinds of unexpected things surfaced in this book.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted October 15, 2011

    Thought provoking

    As the author is from Dublin, I got lost in some of the nuances of the languge, causing confusion at times. However the story itself is age old and universally understood. At times the timeline was difficult to follow but it all seemed to come together near the end where all explanatons were tied to Evie. An insightful and thought provoking read.

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 21, 2014

    Couldn't get past the first 50 pages. A sad waste of time and m

    Couldn't get past the first 50 pages. A sad waste of time and money.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 10, 2013

    Yuck

    Did not enjoy. Could not get past the first few chapters. Disjointed and uninteresting content. Doesn't read as the description sounds.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 10, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    I want to read the book that inspired the overview on the inside

    I want to read the book that inspired the overview on the inside flap of this book. That story looks interesting. The actual story in "The Forgotten Waltz" left me wondering "why?".

    I found the main character, Gina, to be lacking in character. We know nothing about who she actually is as she rambles from one topic to another making little sense. In the first 60 page of the book we learn about Gina falling madly in love with the man she ends up marrying and at the same time she finds nothing redeeming about the man she has an affair with, Sean. Even after she has sex with Sean, she has nothing kind to say about him giving us no idea why she would want to have an affair with him.



    The characters are written at a very shallow level, resulting in the reader looking fruitlessly for a reason to care about any of them.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 13, 2012

    Great

    This book is awesome. Anne Enright knows how to wrie a story with emotion and feeling.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 2, 2011

    must need money

    The problem with this book was it really was not very interesting at all ...I kept waiting for something to happen.. The thought hit me that maybe this author wrote this because she needed money, otherwise it was a waste of her for her name.

    1 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 10, 2011

    Painful

    I hated this book and could not finish it

    1 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 7, 2012

    Wonderful!

    Wonderful!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 15, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted November 5, 2011

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 22, 2013

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 30, 2014

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 11, 2012

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    Posted November 20, 2011

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    Posted September 24, 2011

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    Posted October 6, 2011

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    Posted August 31, 2014

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