Henri Duchemin and His Shadows
Emmanuel Bove was one of the most original writers to come out of twentieth-century France and a popular success in his day. Discovered by Colette, who arranged for the publication of his first novel, My Friends, Bove enjoyed a busy literary career, until the German occupation silenced him. During his lifetime, Bove’s novels and stories were admired by Rainer Maria Rilke, the surrealists, Albert Camus, and Samuel Beckett, who said of him that “more than anyone else he has an instinct for the essential detail.”Henry Duchemin and His Shadows is the perfect introduction to Bove’s world, with its cast of stubborn isolatoes who call to mind Herman Melville’s Bartleby, Robert Walser’s “little men,” and Jean Rhys’s lost women. The poet of the flophouse and the dive, the park bench and the pigeon’s crumb, Bove is also a deeply empathetic writer for whom no defeat is so great as to silence desire.[Source: http://www.nybooks.com/books/imprints...]

Henri Duchemin and His Shadows Details

TitleHenri Duchemin and His Shadows
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseAug 11th, 2015
PublisherNew York Review Books
ISBN-139781590178324
Rating
GenreShort Stories, Cultural, France, Literature

Henri Duchemin and His Shadows Review

  • Tony
    January 1, 1970
    See, I was in an Irish graveyard, in the Fifteen Shilling plot, and I was getting terribly confused at the chatter, which I did not expect. So I slipped out, promising to myself to return, and maybe I will, and I opened this as a respite. Yes, as a respite. There are seven stories here, the best of them merely banal. The worst, annoying, in this way: Now I am writing to you. You can see that I am writing because you are reading what I write. Uplifted? Anyhow, as if I've taken some potion, See, I was in an Irish graveyard, in the Fifteen Shilling plot, and I was getting terribly confused at the chatter, which I did not expect. So I slipped out, promising to myself to return, and maybe I will, and I opened this as a respite. Yes, as a respite. There are seven stories here, the best of them merely banal. The worst, annoying, in this way: Now I am writing to you. You can see that I am writing because you are reading what I write. Uplifted? Anyhow, as if I've taken some potion, they're all fading. Disappearing. Into the ether. Tomorrow, I will wake up with the usual lack of purpose. I will blink. I was reading something, wasn't I? I mean, I'm always reading something. What was it, these last few days? Poof.So now I have to decide whether I should return to The Dirty Dust. As if I can control such a thing. And will they be accepting me? As if they can control such a thing.----- ----- ----- ----- -----I'm bursting to ask you this, though. When did we start using the verb burst to describe anything other than the explosions of grapes and the odd appendix? It's not just in this book. It's rather frequent. By good writers and bad. But in just one story here a character burst out laughing, only a few pages later to burst into sobs. Twice. Isn't there any other way to laugh or cry than to burst into it? And is it similarly annoying in other languages?You have your issues; I have mine.
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  • MJ Nicholls
    January 1, 1970
    Bove, famous for his masterpiece of solitude My Friends, also penned short paeans to solitude and strange male friendships, seven of which are collected in this fresh translation. ‘Night Crime’ features a woeful soul whose whisperings lead to murder, a fattened wallet, and the inevitable moral decay; ‘Another Friend’ a woeful soul who meets a rich ‘friend to the poor’ who proves to be no friend at all; ‘Night Visit’ a woeful soul whose girlfriend in a moment of thoughtless cruelty ends their Bove, famous for his masterpiece of solitude My Friends, also penned short paeans to solitude and strange male friendships, seven of which are collected in this fresh translation. ‘Night Crime’ features a woeful soul whose whisperings lead to murder, a fattened wallet, and the inevitable moral decay; ‘Another Friend’ a woeful soul who meets a rich ‘friend to the poor’ who proves to be no friend at all; ‘Night Visit’ a woeful soul whose girlfriend in a moment of thoughtless cruelty ends their relationship; ‘What I Saw’ a woeful soul convinced his wife was kissing another man in a taxi; ‘The Story of a Madman’ a woeful soul who chooses to sever contact with everyone close to him to make them suffer; ‘The Child’s Return’ a woeful soul who is unable to return to his parental home after a long absence; ‘Is it a Lie?’ a woeful soul who wonders where his wife was last night. A pattern is clear: woeful souls whose relationships are teetering on the brink of severance, or fail to even occur. The pain of attempting to make meaningful contact with another human being is Bove’s topic, one plumbed with wonder here.
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  • Ben Winch
    January 1, 1970
    These are effective stories, neat and well-wrought, but I can’t imagine they’re central to Bove’s ouevre. Really, I bought this book on impulse, on the strength of its cover, the ostensible link with Robert Walser (he’s namechecked in the blurb) and the introduction by Goodreads friend/acquaintance Donald Breckenridge. Well, the cover’s great – I love Arp and that combination of greys/blues. As to Walser, he’s here, but peripheral: underdogs in rented walk-ups abound, and tortured (in Bove’s These are effective stories, neat and well-wrought, but I can’t imagine they’re central to Bove’s ouevre. Really, I bought this book on impulse, on the strength of its cover, the ostensible link with Robert Walser (he’s namechecked in the blurb) and the introduction by Goodreads friend/acquaintance Donald Breckenridge. Well, the cover’s great – I love Arp and that combination of greys/blues. As to Walser, he’s here, but peripheral: underdogs in rented walk-ups abound, and tortured (in Bove’s case paranoiac) love affairs, but the sense of a wilful unhinged mind spinning in unpredictable ellipses is absent. Instead, each story narrows, relentless, to its target. Some – “Night Crime”, “What I Saw”, “Is it a Lie” – ride a fine, haunting line between subjective and objective that lifts them somewhere near the realm of Walser; others – “Night Visit” – I found slightly banal. In all, my impression was less of an adventurer on the fringes than of a tenured professional, subdued and tasteful, whose stories could slot neatly into any number of “Best of...” European anthologies, whose prose is a marvel of compression and focus, but who could never chill or freeze the blood like Walser, Poe (there’s a similarity, especially in the title story) or Beckett (the other name dropped here, whose recommendation of Bove, I forgot to say, was the clincher). And Donald Breckenridge’s introduction? It’s skilfully done, a briefer, denser version of a standard NYRB/Penguin/what have you template, but without that spark of irreverance I guess I was hoping for from a Goodreads “amateur”. But then, Mr Breckenridge, like Bove, may well be a professional. Overall, an intriguing but slightly underwhelming package, at least on first reading. All surface? Or the clear lines of stained glass with shadows beneath? I guess I’d have liked more a dive into the shadows. “Night Crime” was promising; the others were a little too opaque.
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  • Tosh
    January 1, 1970
    I have never read Emmanuel Bove, and now, I feel like I have a good new friend. On the other hand, do I need him as a friend? The short stories all deal with a main character who feels misplaced or not connecting on a human level with others or their settings. In many ways, they are totally self-destructive figures who seem to enjoy their fall from grace to embrace emotional failure. Most of his fiction was written between the two world wars, so it's a world that itself is in conflict, and i I have never read Emmanuel Bove, and now, I feel like I have a good new friend. On the other hand, do I need him as a friend? The short stories all deal with a main character who feels misplaced or not connecting on a human level with others or their settings. In many ways, they are totally self-destructive figures who seem to enjoy their fall from grace to embrace emotional failure. Most of his fiction was written between the two world wars, so it's a world that itself is in conflict, and i think Bove is commenting on the nature of that landscape and how one lives on that mental state of depression and fear of the future. Relationships seem to be built on quicksand than on pavement and ground. Bove captures these moments that are totally believable, yet they are basically insane people. Right now, I feel we are going through an age of intense anxiety. "Henri Duchemin and his Shadows" expresses the culture of the 20s, and makes perfect sense in the year 2015 as well.
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  • Stephen P
    January 1, 1970
    Too slight and thin. It was as though after a certain point Bove cared little for his child moving on to his next progeny where the same sad occurrence prepared itself to happen again.
  • Daniel Polansky
    January 1, 1970
    A collection of lovely, sad, strange short stories. I particularly liked the one where a man destroys everything in his life just to prove he can do it.
  • J.M. Hushour
    January 1, 1970
    As the Introduction states, Bove is a nice point at which Kawabata might have met Poe. Certainly "Night Crime", the story that actually features the titular Duchemin, comes pretty close. The rest not so much. Kawabata actually wrote beautifully if deceptively simply, whereas Bove is just sort of...there. Poe was fucking weird and gloomy whereas Bove sort of slouches towards that. The stories aren't bad, but they're puzzling in their mediocrity, especially considering Bove's other, more engaging As the Introduction states, Bove is a nice point at which Kawabata might have met Poe. Certainly "Night Crime", the story that actually features the titular Duchemin, comes pretty close. The rest not so much. Kawabata actually wrote beautifully if deceptively simply, whereas Bove is just sort of...there. Poe was fucking weird and gloomy whereas Bove sort of slouches towards that. The stories aren't bad, but they're puzzling in their mediocrity, especially considering Bove's other, more engaging works.
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  • Melissa
    January 1, 1970
    I received an ARC from the publisher.This collection of short stories all feature men who are unhappy and looking for someone or something with which to identify. In the first story entitled “Night Crime,” Henri Duchemin, a forty-year-old man, is alone on Christmas Eve in a pub lamenting over his poverty and loneliness and the last thing he wants to do is to go back to his cold, empty flat. He wanders around the streets in the rain until he really has no choice but to go home. But before he goes I received an ARC from the publisher.This collection of short stories all feature men who are unhappy and looking for someone or something with which to identify. In the first story entitled “Night Crime,” Henri Duchemin, a forty-year-old man, is alone on Christmas Eve in a pub lamenting over his poverty and loneliness and the last thing he wants to do is to go back to his cold, empty flat. He wanders around the streets in the rain until he really has no choice but to go home. But before he goes home, a woman whome he meets on the streets notices his sadness and abrasively suggests that he kill himself. As he drifts off to sleep, thoughts of suicide and murder haunt his restless dreams.My favorite story in the collection is written in the epistolary style. “What I saw” is a letter written by Jean to an unnamed friend; Jean desperately wants his friend’s opinion about something that he saw involving his girlfriend that disturbed him greatly. Jean’s letter begins with a description of his girlfriend, Henrietta, and her devotion to Jean. One thinks she is the model woman until, one day, Jean sees her sitting in a taxi and kissing another man.When Jean confronts Henrietta about the liaison, Henrietta adamantly denies ever being with another man. Henrietta and Jean’s other friends try to convince Jean that he must have been mistaken and only saw someone who resembled Henrietta. Jean wants so much to continue his relationship with Henrietta and as he finishes his tale he begs the recipient of the letter to tell Jean his true opinion about Henrietta’s alleged indiscretion. Jean, like the other characters in the story, has a tenuous grasp on an important relationship in his life and he is eager and even desperate not to lose it.Another story worth mentioning is “The Story of a Madman.” Fernand, the narrator, makes it a point at the beginning of his tale to address the reader and inform him or her that he is not, in fact, crazy or out of his mind. He goes on for a few pages giving us some background about his activities and frame of mind so that when he carries out his plan, the reader will think he is perfectly sane in doing so.Fernand then proceeds to have a meeting with his father and tells his parent that he never wants to see him again. Fernand then makes his way to his girlfriend, Monique’s apartment; He assures us that he is deeply in love with Monique and they have a fantastic relationship, but he informs her that he never wants to see her again either. The next stop on Fernand’s list is his best friend, with whom he also breaks off all contact.Fernand’s final stop on his break-up tour is with his sister and brother-in-law. After a friendly conversation, he also informs them that he never wants to see them again. So, we are left wondering why Fernand would alienate all of the people in his life that he loves. There are hints throughout the story that Fernand is exercising his willpower and that he is attempting to make a plan and adhere to it no matter what others may think. But the last few sentences of the story leave us with a haunting suggestion that maybe his motives for leaving are a bit more depressing and sinister.This is a small yet powerful collection of stories that will leave you thinking about these men and their feelings of alienation and unhappiness. Bove’s language is sometimes curt and sometimes poetic. He weaves these small tales in such a way that we are never sure where they will end. I highly recommend this brilliant collection of writing brought to us by The New York Review of Books classics collection.For more of my reviews please visit: www.thebookbindersdaughter.com
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  • Kobe Bryant
    January 1, 1970
    Sad little stories
  • Bram
    January 1, 1970
    Reading Bove is like watching the bastard child of Victor Hugo and Franz Kafka (obvious physiological impracticalities notwithstanding) sipping strychnine from a fine china cup while playing chess in a deserted park. Make of that what you will.
  • Callum McAllister
    January 1, 1970
    Such European 1900s melancholy. very funny, very Gogol-esque, but lacking the surreal. More about a good turn of phrase and characters who always seem to get worse than they deserve.
  • Tom
    January 1, 1970
    Poe meets Simenon. Psychological hysteria meets cynical reason. . . It's the sort of thing you'll like if you like that sort of thing.
  • Jfmarhuenda
    January 1, 1970
    Gracias a Vila-Matas por haberme descubierto a este maravilloso escritor.
  • Guy
    January 1, 1970
    Lost, desperate, isolated characters inhabit Emmanuel Bove’s short story collection Henri Duchemin and His Shadows (1928). While the characters are sometimes isolated due to circumstance, it’s primarily their inner thoughts and private fears that separate them from mainstream society. The dominant threads here are broken relationships, absorbing disillusionment and coming to terms with a less-than-satisfactory life. Naturally, most of the disillusion occurs in relationships between men and Lost, desperate, isolated characters inhabit Emmanuel Bove’s short story collection Henri Duchemin and His Shadows (1928). While the characters are sometimes isolated due to circumstance, it’s primarily their inner thoughts and private fears that separate them from mainstream society. The dominant threads here are broken relationships, absorbing disillusionment and coming to terms with a less-than-satisfactory life. Naturally, most of the disillusion occurs in relationships between men and women.Night Crime is set on Christmas Eve with the title character, Henri Duchemin, mired in a life of poverty turning desperately to a stranger for sympathy, but he’s told that if he’s that unhappy, he should just kill himself.He closed his window and, motionless in front of the only armchair, he saw women everywhere, in the depths of the walls, standing on his bed, languidly waving their arms. No, he would not kill himself. At forty a man is still young and can, if he perseveres, become rich.Henri Duchemin dreamed of supplicants, of owning houses, of freedom. But once his imagination had calmed down, it seemed the disorder of his room had grown, in contrast as it was with his reveries.This is a nightmarish, surreal tale in which Duchemin is tempted by a stranger to commit a crime which will supposedly solve all of his problems.In Another Friend, a poor man is befriended by a wealthy stranger. The poor man imagines that he has met someone, finally, who will be an understanding friend, only to discover that the stranger collects poor people and gets some strange satisfaction from giving them a meal and listening to their tales of woe.In Night Visit, marital woes between Paul and Fernande spill over on to Paul’s friend, Jean. Paul worships Fernande and describes her in the most glowing terms, but Jean finds Fernande to be a “rather corpulent, rather common woman.” Who can explain why we love some people while we ignore others who are far more suitable? Here’s the story’s final passage which, on the surface, would seem to have little to do with the subject.An automobile on its way to Les Halles passed very close to us. In the pure, freezing air, it left such a circumscribed scent of vegetables that when we took one step to the side, we could not smell it any more. In the middle of the sleeping city, beneath the sky, we were alone. The moon had disappeared. And without it, as if they lacked a leader, the stars seemed to be in disarray.In What I Saw the narrator, Jean (possibly the character from the previous tale) tells the story of his girlfriend, Henriette. While the narrator stresses how much he loves his girlfriend who is “as sweet as an angel,” we get the impression that beneath the surface, there’s an undercurrent of problems. There are hints that he’s been unfaithful perhaps, but he’s always forgiven, and when he tests her love with questions, she always gives the right responses.Even though she is beautiful, she recognizes that a man’s lapse is not as great as a woman’s.Through the narrator’s description of his girlfriend, a picture of Henriette gradually builds. There’s nothing to fault in what she says or what she does, but somehow, once again, there’s a feeling of unease.Candy, cake, fruit-she always goes without in order to offer them to me and, if I don’t take them, because I know how fond she is of them, she insists with so much love that I would be hurting her if I continued to refuse them. Nothing exists for her. She sees all of life through me.Is this woman a saint? Or has she honed her manipulative skills to a fine point? Or is she merely holding her own in this relationship in which the narrator completely underestimates the female sex?In Is it A Lie?, my favourite in this collection, a much older husband, Mr. Marjanne must confront his wife’s infidelity when she provides a very flimsy story excusing an overnight absence. This short story takes us through Claire Marjanne’s ridiculous version of events, and as a result we become both witnesses and participants in her fabrication. Taking the moral high ground, she grasps the power in the marital relationship and then Claire manipulates her husband, drawing him into her web of lies, liberally casting details and logic as though these will base her story in reality.One of the blurbs connects Bove’s stories to the female characters in the novels of Jean Rhys. I’d disagree, and if you’re hoping to find Jean Rhys-type stories here, you’ll be disappointed. Bove’s main characters are lost males, and if there are women in their lives, then the women are lying to them, cheating on them, or simply moving on. The story Henri Duchemin and His Shadows gives a glimpse of café culture, reminiscent of Rhys, and a hard, acid-tongued woman who tells the title character to stop whining and just kill himself. Ultimately the women here are the tough ones–they survive and move on leaving their men wondering just what went wrong.Resurrected by New York Review books. Translated by Alyson Waters
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  • Adam Dalva
    January 1, 1970
    My first time reading Bove - his stories have a wonderful subconscious flow and his descriptions are often remarkable. I am certainly going to read one of his novels after this, because the qualities that set this apart (strong characters, humor, writing) lend themselves to that form. The collection starts off very strongly, but it trends downhill because the stories are a bit too similar - it would probably be better to read one a day. Though they are all accomplished, the stories of lonely men My first time reading Bove - his stories have a wonderful subconscious flow and his descriptions are often remarkable. I am certainly going to read one of his novels after this, because the qualities that set this apart (strong characters, humor, writing) lend themselves to that form. The collection starts off very strongly, but it trends downhill because the stories are a bit too similar - it would probably be better to read one a day. Though they are all accomplished, the stories of lonely men who suspect their wives, wander through dreams, suffer in poverty, and directly address the reader with lengthy preambles start to blend together. This isn't the fault of Bove or the wonderful translation, but it makes it a bit tougher to recommend the book to non-fans. As a historical document though, this is fascinating. You can see the Beckett influence, the Camus, the Claude Simon. That missing link aspect was my favorite thing here.
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  • Sander
    January 1, 1970
    He is my therapeutic, sagacious, mythical older brother. I've always looked up to him and have in fact, wanted to be him. He is my idea of purity and all that is good and worth fighting for.
  • Czarny Pies
    January 1, 1970
    As with Mes Amis, the reader feels that the objective of Emmanuel Bove in "Henri Beauchemin et ses ombres" is to provide the back story to the famous Beatle Song "Eleanor Rigby" with its celebrated refrain: All the lonely peopleWhere do they all come from?All the lonely peopleWhere do they all belong?The characters are poor economically, intellectually and spiritually. Emannual Bove is unquestionably a writer of talent but his recipe quickly becomes tiresome. His characters and their dilemmas As with Mes Amis, the reader feels that the objective of Emmanuel Bove in "Henri Beauchemin et ses ombres" is to provide the back story to the famous Beatle Song "Eleanor Rigby" with its celebrated refrain: All the lonely peopleWhere do they all come from?All the lonely peopleWhere do they all belong?The characters are poor economically, intellectually and spiritually. Emannual Bove is unquestionably a writer of talent but his recipe quickly becomes tiresome. His characters and their dilemmas are all too similar. The denouements are highly predictable.
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  • A.O.
    January 1, 1970
    A sad set of stories about a sad little man. While individual stories, it’s clear that the protagonists are all cut from the same cloth (that of the author according to the foreward). The writing and pacing of these stories is very well done, and the unreliability of the narrative whether in monologue form or dream like state, makes for an interesting read. However, the misogyny of the protagonist caused for some of the poignancy to be lost, and far from hitting a tragic note desired caused a A sad set of stories about a sad little man. While individual stories, it’s clear that the protagonists are all cut from the same cloth (that of the author according to the foreward). The writing and pacing of these stories is very well done, and the unreliability of the narrative whether in monologue form or dream like state, makes for an interesting read. However, the misogyny of the protagonist caused for some of the poignancy to be lost, and far from hitting a tragic note desired caused a reaction of derision.
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  • Helke Voss-Becher
    January 1, 1970
    I had read these Bove-stories in French and was intrigued. Two years ago I was asked to translate "Ce que j'ai vu" into German. (Now available as "Was ich gesehen habe" im Golden Luft Verlag, Mainz.) I then bought the English edition (Henri Duchemin and His Shadows) in order to look at the translation into English. The translation deeply impressed me. I can only recommend this book to all those who cannot read Bove in the Original.
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  • Taylor Lee
    January 1, 1970
    Strange, sparingly detailed stories. At times wonderful, at times unnerving, at times as well strikingly accurate in their depiction of despair, fear, and loneliness. The novella /Night Crime/ and the stories "The Child's Return"and "Is It a Lie?" are noteworthy, though all of the works are interesting enough to be memorable.
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  • Dale Boyer
    January 1, 1970
    A very odd, slender little book that is certainly not for everyone, but I'm glad I found. I particularly liked the blurred line between what he thinks and what he dreams. The best stories are oddly unsettling.
  • Noah
    January 1, 1970
    super interesting writing style, to his credit it did feel like a great writer's worst book
  • Erica
    January 1, 1970
    surprisingly good collection of surrealist vignettes. quite french
  • Larry Ggggggggggggggggggggggggg
    January 1, 1970
    Fail and depress
  • Peter
    January 1, 1970
    Slight and atmospheric - just enough to provoke interest in Bove's novels.
  • Dave Holcomb
    January 1, 1970
    Bove is an underappreciated writer from the first half of the twentieth century. This particular book, a collection of short stories, is a great introduction to the author's work.I suspect that, had I encountered these stories thirty-five years ago, Bove would have joined Lawrence Durrell and Jerzy Kozinsky in my cosmic pantheon of angst: Bove's characters are obsessive and self-absorbed in ways that every human being who has survived his/her early twenties can understand. Now, almost two Bove is an underappreciated writer from the first half of the twentieth century. This particular book, a collection of short stories, is a great introduction to the author's work.I suspect that, had I encountered these stories thirty-five years ago, Bove would have joined Lawrence Durrell and Jerzy Kozinsky in my cosmic pantheon of angst: Bove's characters are obsessive and self-absorbed in ways that every human being who has survived his/her early twenties can understand. Now, almost two generations later, I find that I can appreciate Bove's elegant, sometimes almost crystalline writing (think Shirley Jackson) while viewing his moody protagonists with a certain paternal amusement, but find that these young men resonate with my memories more than with who I am to today."Henrie Duchemin and His Shadows" is a short, book, a quick read, and well worth a weekend's effort.
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  • Broch
    January 1, 1970
    while one (pick any) story in this collection is nice, the rest is just variation of the story which makes whole collection boring. I don't think that Bove planned his stories to be so similar but even if he did the effect is just not interesting. Collecting these stories in one place makes Bove's repetitiveness more pronounced. Because it will take only one afternoon to read, pick up Henri Duchemin .. or His Shadows from the library and enjoy reading one.
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  • Becky
    January 1, 1970
    I enjoyed Is it a lie, the final story in this collection but wasn't blown away by the other stories. I have no real criticism of the style or content, it's simply that something didn't gel for me.
  • Patrick
    January 1, 1970
    The stories aren't really plot or character driven, but as the back copy says, Bove has a great eye and ear for detail and these stories are worth reading for that alone
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