Books in General

The Pleasures of Pessimism

26 May 2017

From The New York Review of Books:

Why do we read writers who are profoundly pessimistic? And what sense are we to make of their work in our ordinary, hopefully not uncheerful lives?

I am not speaking about the sort of pessimism concerned with the consequences of our electing this or that president, or failing to respond to world famine or global warming, but what in Italy came to be called il pessimismo cosmico. The term was coined in response to the work of the nineteenth-century poet and thinker Giacomo Leopardi, who at the ripe old age of twenty-one decided that “all is nothing, solid nothing” and he, in the midst of nothing, “nothing myself.” The only reasoned and lucid response to the human condition, Leopardi decided, was despair: hence all positive action and happiness must always have the quality of illusion.

This is existential pessimism of the most uncompromising kind. Who needs it? What could possibly be the attractions?

Toward the end of my graduate course in literary translation I introduce the students to Samuel Beckett, in particular Arsene’s speech in the novel Watt. Watt has just arrived at Mr. Knott’s house and since when one servant arrives another must depart, Arsene is leaving. Before he does so, he gives Watt the benefit of a lifetime’s disillusionment in a twenty-page monologue. This is the passage I offer my students:

Personally of course I regret everything. Not a word, not a deed, not a thought, not a need, not a grief, not a joy, not a girl, not a boy, not a doubt, not a trust, not a scorn, not a lust, not a hope, not a fear, not a smile, not a tear, not a name, not a face, no time, no place, that I do not regret, exceedingly. An ordure from beginning to end. And yet, when I sat for Fellowship, but for the boil on my bottom… The rest, an ordure. The Tuesday scowls, the Wednesday growls, the Thursday curses, the Friday howls, the Saturday snores, the Sunday yawns, the Monday morns, the Monday morns. The whacks, the moans, the cracks, the groans, the welts, the squeaks, the belts, the shrieks, the pricks, the prayers, the kicks, the tears, the skelps, and the yelps. And the poor old lousy old earth, my earth and my father’s and my mother’s and my father’s father’s and my mother’s mother’s and my father’s mother’s and my mother’s father’s, and my father’s mother’s father’s and my mother’s father’s mother’s and my father’s mother’s mother’s and my mother’s father’s father’s and my father’s father’s mother’s and my mother’s mother’s father’s and my father’s father’s father’s and my mother’s mother’s mother’s and other people’s fathers’ and mothers’ and fathers’ fathers’ and mothers’ mothers’ and fathers’ mothers’ and mothers’ fathers’ and fathers’ mothers’ fathers’ and mothers’ fathers’ mothers’ and fathers’ mothers’ mothers’ and mothers’ fathers’ fathers’ and fathers’ fathers’ mothers’ and mothers’ mothers’ father’s and fathers’ fathers’ fathers’ and mothers’ mothers’ mothers’. An excrement.

The students’ collective response is always the same, at first perplexity, faint smiles, frowns, widening eyes as the long list of “mother’s” and “father’s” begins, and finally a blend of giggles and incredulity: is “prof” really going to read that list to the end? So the passage becomes an exercise in showing how the most negative of visions can be smuggled into our minds without our hardly noticing, we are so distracted by the form. On my computer the autocorrect function of Word has underlined much of the passage in blue: “avoid repetition,” it suggests.

. . . .

Pessimistic essayists and philosophers may not cast the same narrative gloom as fiction writers, but the implications of their work tend toward the universal. Indeed, to believe that unhappiness was merely a question of immediate circumstance and particular character might be seen as a crass form of optimism. “Our chief grievance against knowledge is that it has not helped us to live,” observes Emil Cioran, dismissing the whole Enlightenment enterprise in a few dry words. Or again: “No one saves anyone; for we save only ourselves, and do so all the better if we disguise as convictions the misery we want to share, to lavish on others.” Or again, “Being busy means devoting oneself to the fake and the sham.” And: “Trees are massacred, houses go up—faces, faces everywhere. Man is spreading. Man is the cancer of the earth.”

. . . .

For essayists and philosophers, what we cannot forgive is, first, the suspicion that our writer has a personal axe to grind, and second, perhaps even worse, dullness, a lack of panache. The slightest feeling that facts are being manipulated in order to support a position in which, for some spoilsport reason, the author has a personal investment, is fatal. The reader, that is, must recognize that a genuine truth is being acknowledged. Beckett can get away with his long list of “father’s” and “mother’s” because it tells an undeniable truth: mine really is the same earth that all my ancestors walked, the same life all my forebears lived. And it is true, unavoidably, that as one goes backward in time so one’s forebears multiply—two parents, four grandparents, eight great grandparents, sixteen great-great grandparents—so that one’s own life becomes steadily less significant and could be construed as mere repetition.

Link to the rest at The New York Review of Books

PG thinks optimism is a better way, but that’s only one guy’s opinion.


How the Owner of the Greatest Mystery Bookstore Pulled the Genre Out of the Muck

25 May 2017

From Atlas Obscura:

The mystery genre is in a boom. Eight of the top 10 fiction books on the New York Times bestseller list are either straight-ahead mysteries—detective stories, murder mysteries, propulsive crime novels—or thrillers heavily indebted to or intertwined with the mystery genre. Prestige TV shows are heavily tilted in favor of mysteries; there are two currently-running Sherlock Holmes adaptations, but Top of the Lake, How to Get Away With Murder, Mr. Robot, The OA, Pretty Little Liars, Big Little Lies, Broadchurch, True Detective, and about a billion others are littering our screens, not to mention the true crime trend.

Mysteries have always been around and always been popular, but they haven’t always been respected. Otto Penzler has had a significant hand in that transformation. He’s probably the most important figure in the history of mystery fiction who’s never written a mystery story.

You get to Otto Penzler’s New York office through a door in the Mysterious Bookshop, the world’s oldest and biggest bookstore focusing on mystery, crime fiction, espionage, and thrillers. The door is roped off with a big X made of yellow police tape reading CRIME SCENE DO NOT CROSS. Down a flight of stairs, his office is a low-ceilinged basement cube with floor-to-ceiling bookshelves on all four sides, stocked with anthologies and first editions as well as a random sampling of mass-market hardcovers and paperbacks. If his office was a store by itself, it would be the second-best mystery bookstore in the world.

Penzler is the owner of the Mysterious Bookshop (founded 1979) as well as The Mysterious Press, a publishing imprint he founded in 1975, and, his ebook publisher. He has published most of the greats of mystery and crime fiction: Raymond Chandler, James M. Cain, James Ellroy, Ross Thomas, Patricia Highsmith, Ross Macdonald, Ed McBain. Any of the major authors he hasn’t published are probably at least good friends of his. (In conversation, Robert B. Parker is “Bob” and Lawrence Block is “Larry.”) He has a trim white beard and a shock of white hair, and speaks with the confidence and enthusiasm of someone who works entirely too many hours for his age at a job he wouldn’t trade. He is not the least bit shy about criticizing authors he thinks are bad; he referred to both Thomas Pynchon and Isabel Allende as “dreadful!” in our conversation. “Otto is gentlemanly, courtly, and unfailingly gracious—but, when necessary, he can be strongly assertive,” writes author Joyce Carol Oates in an email. “I do have a story or two about Otto but don’t think it would be discreet to tell them….”

. . . .

Inside, every square inch of walls leading up to what must be 20-foot ceilings are packed with any book in which someone violently dies. There is an entire section for Sherlock Holmes books, including the many spinoffs written by dozens of authors. (The copyright on the character expired in 2014, meaning anyone can now write stories involving the characters created by Arthur Conan Doyle without paying a fee.) There are copies of long-defunct detective magazines like Black Mask. There is an entire section for what Penzler calls bibliomysteries—mystery books involving mysterious books. Murdered librarians, valuable manuscripts, that kind of thing.

Link to the rest at Atlas Obscura


How Fonts Are Fueling the Culture Wars

24 May 2017

From BackChannel:

Typography is undergoing a public renaissance. Typography usually strives to be invisible, but recently it’s become a mark of sophistication for readers to notice it and have an opinion.

Suddenly, people outside of the design profession seem to care about its many intricacies. Usually, this awareness focuses on execution.

. . . .

 But by focusing on the smaller gaffes, we’re missing the big picture. Typography is much bigger than a “gotcha” moment for the visually challenged. Typography can silently influence: It can signify dangerous ideas, normalize dictatorships, and sever broken nations. In some cases it may be a matter of life and death. And it can do this as powerfully as the words it depicts.

. . . .

Why We’re Afraid of Blackletter

You’ve seen blackletter typography before. It’s dense, old-fashioned, and elaborate. It almost always feels like an anachronism. It looks like this:

But usually when you see it in popular culture, it looks more like this:


You probably know blackletter as the script of choice for bad guys, prison tattoos, and black metal album art—and you wouldn’t be wrong.

Blackletter looks esoteric and illegible now, but it started off as a normal pattern that people across Europe used every day for hundreds of years. It stayed that way until pretty recently. It reigned as the dominant typeface in the English-speaking world for several generations, and remains popular in parts of the Spanish-speaking world today.

Why don’t we use blackletter anymore? The answer is literally “Hitler.” Nazi leadership used Fraktur, an archetypal variety of blackletter, as their official typeface. They positioned it as a symbol of German national identity and denounced papers that printed with anything else.

Link to the rest at BackChannel

PG reminds new visitors that he doesn’t necessarily agree with everything he posts on The Passive Voice.

For example, the use of the Fractur typeface by any government office in Nazi Germany was abolished by decree in 1941. The reason given was that the typeface was Jewish.


Emily Dickinson’s Herbarium: A Forgotten Treasure at the Intersection of Science and Poetry

24 May 2017

From Brain Pickings:

In an era when the scientific establishment barred and bolted its gates to women, botany allowed Victorian women to enter science through the permissible backdoor of art, most famously in Beatrix Potter’s scientific drawings of mushrooms and Margaret Gatty’s stunning illustrated classification of seaweed. Across the Atlantic, this art-science adventure in botany found an improbable yet impassioned practitioner in one of humanity’s most beloved and influential poets: Emily Dickinson (December 10, 1830–May 15, 1886).

Long before she began writing poems, Dickinson undertook a rather different yet unexpectedly parallel art of contemplation and composition — the gathering, growing, classification, and pressing of flowers, which she saw as manifestations of the Muse not that dissimilar to poems. (More than a century later, Robert Penn Warren would articulate that common ground in his observation that “poetry, like science, draws not only those who make it but also those who understand and appreciate it.”)

. . . .

Dickinson started studying botany at the age of nine and assisting her mother at the garden at twelve, but it wasn’t until she began attending Mount Holyoke in her late teens — around the time the only authenticated daguerrotype of her was taken — that she began approaching her botanical zeal with scientific rigor.

Mary Lyon, the school’s founder and first principal, was an ardent botanist herself, trained by the famous educator and horticulturalist Dr. Edward Hitchcock. Although Lyon encouraged all her girls to collect, study, and preserve local flowers in herbaria, Dickinson’s herbarium — with which I first became enchanted at the Morgan Library’s fantastic Emily Dickinson exhibition — was a masterpiece of uncommon punctiliousness and poetic beauty: 424 flowers from the Amherst region, which Dickinson celebrated as “beautiful children of spring,” arranged with a remarkable sensitivity to scale and visual cadence across sixty-six pages in a large leather-bound album. Slim paper labels punctuate the specimens like enormous dashes inscribed with the names of the plants — sometimes colloquial, sometimes Linnaean — in Dickinson’s elegant handwriting.

Link to the rest at Brain Pickings


Google’s AI Invents Sounds Humans Have Never Heard Before

24 May 2017

From Wired:

Jesse Engel is playing an instrument that’s somewhere between a clavichord and a Hammond organ—18th-century classical crossed with 20th-century rhythm and blues. Then he drags a marker across his laptop screen. Suddenly, the instrument is somewhere else between a clavichord and a Hammond. Before, it was, say, 15 percent clavichord. Now it’s closer to 75 percent. Then he drags the marker back and forth as quickly as he can, careening though all the sounds between these two very different instruments.

“This is not like playing the two at the same time,” says one of Engel’s colleagues, Cinjon Resnick, from across the room. And that’s worth saying. The machine and its software aren’t layering the sounds of a clavichord atop those of a Hammond. They’re producing entirely new sounds using the mathematical characteristics of the notes that emerge from the two. And they can do this with about a thousand different instruments—from violins to balafons—creating countless new sounds from those we already have, thanks to artificial intelligence.

. . . .

Engel and Resnick are part of Google Magenta—a small team of AI researchers inside the internet giant building computer systems that can make their own art—and this is their latest project. It’s called NSynth, and the team will publicly demonstrate the technology later this week at Moogfest, the annual art, music, and technology festival, held this year in Durham, North Carolina.

The idea is that NSynth, which Google first discussed in a blog post last month, will provide musicians with an entirely new range of tools for making music. Critic Marc Weidenbaum points out that the approach isn’t very far removed from what orchestral conductors have done for ages—“the blending of instruments is nothing new,” he says—but he also believes that Google’s technology could push this age-old practice into new places. “Artistically, it could yield some cool stuff, and because it’s Google, people will follow their lead,” he says.

. . . .

Magenta is part of Google Brain, the company’s central AI lab, where a small army of researchers are exploring the limits of neural networks and other forms of machine learning.

. . . .

NSynth begins with a massive database of sounds. Engel and team collected a wide range of notes from about a thousand different instruments and then fed them into a neural network. By analyzing the notes, the neural net—several layers of calculus run across a network of computer chips—learned the audible characteristics of each instrument. Then it created a mathematical “vector” for each one. Using these vectors, a machine can mimic the sound of each instrument—a Hammond organ or a clavichord, say—but it can also combine the sounds of the two.

In addition to the NSynth “slider” that Engel recently demonstrated at Google headquarters, the team has also built a two-dimensional interface that lets you explore the audible space between four different instruments at once. And the team is intent on taking the idea further still, exploring the boundaries of artistic creation. A second neural network, for instance, could learn new ways of mimicking and combining the sounds from all those instruments. AI could work in tandem with AI.

Link to the rest at Wired

What does this have to do with writing?

PG isn’t completely certain, but perhaps it might work as a writing prompt for a scifi novel.

Music of the spheres has long been an idea that the relationships of various stars, planets, moons, etc., created a form of music.

From Wikipedia:

An ancient philosophical concept that regards proportions in the movements of celestial bodies—the Sun, Moon, and planets—as a form of musica (the Medieval Latin term for music). This “music” is not usually thought to be literally audible, but a harmonic, mathematical or religious concept. The idea continued to appeal to thinkers about music until the end of the Renaissance, influencing scholars of many kinds, including humanists. Further scientific exploration has determined specific proportions in some orbital motion, described as orbital resonance.

Perhaps musica machina will become another form of relationship between machines and humans.

Or perhaps PG’s diet coke intake is out of sync with the universe today.


The Dangers of Reading in Bed

22 May 2017

From The Atlantic:

Lord Walsingham’s servants found him in bed one morning in 1831, burnt to a crisp. According to a notice in The Spectator, “his remains [were] almost wholly destroyed, the hands and feet literally burnt to ashes, and the head and skeleton of the body alone remained presenting anything like an appearance of humanity.” His wife also suffered a tragic end: Jumping out of the window to escape the fire, she tumbled to her death.

The Family Monitor assigned Lord Walsingham a trendy death. He must have fallen asleep reading in bed, its editors concluded, a notorious practice that was practically synonymous with death-by-fire because it required candles. The incident became a cautionary tale. Readers were urged not to tempt God by sporting with “the most awful danger and calamity”—the flagrant vice of bringing a book to bed. Instead, they were instructed to close the day “in prayer, to be preserved from bodily danger and evil.” The editorial takes reading in bed for a moral failing, a common view of the period.

. . . .

Writings from the 18th and 19th centuries frequently dramatize the potentially horrifying consequences of reading in bed. Hannah Robertson’s 1791 memoir, Tale of Truth as well as of Sorrow, offers one example. It is a dramatic story of downward mobility, hinging on the unfortunate bedtime activities of a Norwegian visitor, who falls asleep with a book: “The curtains took fire, and the flames communicating with other parts of the furniture and buildings, a great share of our possessions were consumed.”

. . . .

In practice, reading in bed was probably less dangerous than public reproach suggested. Of the 29,069 fires recorded in London from 1833 to 1866, only 34 were attributed to reading in bed. Cats were responsible for an equal number of fire incidents.

. . . .

Until the 17th and 18th centuries, bringing a book to bed was a rare privilege reserved for those who knew how to read, had access to books, and had the means to be alone. The invention of the printing press transformed silent reading into a common practice—and a practice bound up with emerging conceptions of privacy. Solitary reading was so common by the 17th century, books were often stored in the bedroom instead of the parlor or the study.

Meanwhile, the bedroom was changing too. Sleeping became less sociable and more solitary. In the 16th and 17th centuries, even royals lacked the nighttime privacy contemporary sleepers take for granted. In the House of Tudor, a servant might sleep on a cot by the bed or slip under the covers with her queenly boss for warmth. By day, the bed was the center of courtly life. The monarchs designated a separate bedchamber for conducting royal business. In the morning, they would commute from their sleeping-rooms to another part of the castle, where they would climb into fancier, more lavish beds to receive visitors.

. . . .

People feared that solitary reading and sleeping fostered a private, fantasy life that would threaten the collective—especially among women. The solitary sleeper falls asleep at night absorbed in fantasies of another world, a place she only knows from books. During the day, the lure of imaginative fiction might draw a woman under the covers to read, compromising her social obligations.

The celebrated soprano Caterina Gabrielli was presumably reading one such novel when she neglected to attend a dinner party among Sicilian elites at home of the viceroy of Palermo, who had been intent on wooing her. A messenger sent to call on the absent singer found her in the bedroom, apparently so lost in her book, she’d forgotten all about the engagement. She apologized for her bad manners, but didn’t budge from bed.

Link to the rest at The Atlantic


Kingly statue plunges sword into Tintagel’s Arthurian row

21 May 2017

From The Guardian:

Perched above the Atlantic breakers, the imposing bronze statue of a regal figure clutching a sword and gazing back across the ruins of Tintagel castle and towards the Cornish mainland is certainly impressive.

“Brilliant, isn’t it?” said Matt Ward, the property manager of this most atmospheric spot. “I think the visitors are going to love it. Imagine it when a sea mist comes in. It will look amazing.”

Press Ward on who the statue represents, however, and he becomes a little more wary. Is it King Arthur? Is that sword Excalibur? “It’s up to you, it’s up to the visitors to decide. You can interpret it how you like.”

Ward is probably right to be careful. Earlier this year a row broke out over Tintagel, the legendary site of King Arthur’s conception, after its modern-day guardians, English Heritage, unveiled a carving of Merlin’s face in a rockface at the site.

There were howls of protest from Cornish nationalists and historians, who claimed English Heritage was guilty of the “Disneyfication” of Tintagel and ignoring its true Cornish history.

. . . .

Ashbee’s theory is that Tintagel was the summer seat of a dynasty that ruled the kingdom of Dumnonia, which stretched across Cornwall and Devon and into Somerset in the fifth, sixth and seventh centuries.

Ashbee says Tintagel should be about this sort of “real” history as well as Arthurian legend. “We’re trying to balance those two aspects,” he said. “We don’t accept English Heritage is simply glorifying the triumph of the Anglo-Saxons. But you cannot understand Tintagel without understanding how the legends shaped it.”

If English Heritage is simply trying to dig itself out of a row with Cornish nationalists, it would not be the first time storytelling and spin has been weaved around the site.

It was Geoffrey of Monmouth, that 12th-century arch-spin merchant, who launched the Arthurian bandwagon when he used the spectacular spot as a setting for his imagining of the conception of the king.

In his The History of the Kings of England, he described how Uther Pendragon, the King of Britain, fell in love with radiant Igraine, another man’s wife. She was hidden away in Tintagel, but Merlin provided Uther with a magic potion that made him the spitting image of Igraine’s husband. Uther got into Tintagel and Arthur was the product.

It was that tale, rather than any sensible, strategic reasoning that led to the romantic Richard, Earl of Cornwall, to site his medieval castle at windswept Tintagel in the 1230s.

Link to the rest at The Guardian

This story is about a year old, but was news for PG.

He hasn’t been to Tintagel for several years, but is sorry to hear that it has become highly commercialized. When PG and Mrs. PG visited, they were the only people there and it was a wonderful experience.

Here’s a link to some photos (not by PG) of Tintagel to give you a sense of the location.


Literary Tourism: Travel the World’s Book Towns

21 May 2017

From BookRiot:

If you’ve ever heard the phrase “book town” and thought it was just a cutesy name for a place, then you’ll be pleased and/or surprised to hear that book towns are real, true destinations.

. . . .

A book town is defined, loosely, as a small town or village that is home to a large number of bookstores. The bookstores are primarily used and/or antiquarian, and many of these book towns play host to book lovers who travel to see them and experience a quaint world of book shops upon book shops. There are a few dozen designated book towns throughout the world, and some of them even host their own literary festivals, making a perfect reason for a trip or two.

. . . .

Hay-on-Wye, Wales

This might be one of the best-known book towns. It’s been featured around the internet and caught the attention of many a book lover on Tumblr. Hay-on-Wye is Wale’s national book town and plays host to the annual Hay Festival. This year’s Hay Festival — celebrating its thirtieth year — kicks off on May 27, and information about the event can be found here.

Fun fact: Jasper Fford, author of the “Thursday Next” series, is from Hay-on-Wye. Seems fitting!

. . . .

Stillwater, Minnesota

Did you know that the USA boasts its own book town? Located on the St. Croix River and an hour or so from the Twin Cities, Sillwater was America’s first official town to earn the distinction. Pictured above is the Loome Bookstore, which is one of five in town. Though there aren’t as many bookstores as some of the other book towns around the world, the focal point is the sheer number of antiquarian books available for sale.

. . . .

St. Martins, New Brunswick, Canada

With almost a dozen booksellers in this small, picturesque Canadian town, St Martins is a relative newcomer to the “book town” distinction, earning the title in 2007. St. Martins is a tiny town with just over 300 residents, so the proportion of books to people is pretty outstanding.

This isn’t Canada’s first or only book town. Sidney, British Columbia, also boasts the title, though the population and book ratio is a little different.

Link to the rest at BookRiot


The books every new graduate should read, according to a dozen business leaders

21 May 2017

From Quartz:

New graduates may think they’re ready for the world, but even after all that learning, there’s still room in their heads for some wisdom. We asked a dozen business leaders—from CEOs of big companies and startups, to deans of leading business schools—what books they would put in the hands of a newly minted graduate. Here’s what they recommended:

The Boys in the Boat

Daniel James Brown’s account of an underdog rowing team beating the elite squads of the US and Europe on its way to the 1936 Olympics in Berlin is “a vivid description of grit, hustle and, perseverance,” said Mark Hoplamazian, CEO of Hyatt, the hotel company. “If you want to be part of a team, you have to be willing to give up some of your self.”

. . . .


This 2001 biography of the UK prime minister, written by Roy Jenkins, is “a great tale of failure, perseverance, the importance of timing, and overcoming adversity,” said Peter Todd, dean of HEC, a top-ranked business school in Paris.

. . . .

1984 and The Weapons Shops of Isher

These two works of speculative fiction— the 1949 classic by George Orwell and an out-of-print 1951 novel by A.E. van Vogt—offer two visions of a dystopian future. “New graduates are charged with developing their relationships with society: family, co-workers, government,” said Jeff Jonas, CEO of SAGE Therapeutics, a biotechnology company. “While 1984 is embraced nowadays as being more prophetic, the Isher stories provide an alternative view of how one can deal with an oppressive government.”

Link to the rest at Quartz


On The Horror of Getting It Wrong In Print

18 May 2017

From The Literary Hub:

“I love how you don’t care what anyone thinks about you—even your husband!” a young woman, calling herself a fan, wrote to me after I’d published an essay in the New York Times.

I laughed out loud. Not only has my husband read and edited just about everything I’ve ever published (he has been my first and best reader on everything since I was an alt-weekly intern in Texas, 16 years ago), but also I care about what everyone thinks.

Whenever I publish something—anything, anywhere—for a long time afterward I wake up at 3 am, thinking, “Wait, did I say 1988? But it had to be after 1990!”

One time, many years ago, when I was first writing for the New York Times, I heard from someone on the copy desk that in a theater review I’d gotten the director’s name wrong. I burst into tears. They said they’d run a correction. Then I pulled myself together and launched an investigation into how I’d made the egregious error. I learned that I’d been right in the first place, so the Times appended a correction to the correction.

“Have you ever heard the term ‘pure obsessive’?” a mental health professional once asked me.

“No, why?”

“Never mind,” she said.

I thought with my last book, St. Marks Is Dead, I had conquered my fear of errors by providing a flotilla of endnotes. I did roughly 250 interviews for the book and went back to a large percentage of those people with follow-up questions.

And yet, a few mistakes remained.

Link to the rest at The Literary Hub

PG says one of the many lovely things about ebooks and POD books is that errors can be almost instantly corrected.

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