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The Ice Cream Man and Other Stories

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"Pink is a keen observer of the culture of minimum-wage jobs and low-rent studio apartments that is the reality of life for all those who don't find a cog space in today's hyper-capitalist economy." —The Guardian It was maybe the first job I'd ever had where people were happy to see me. An odd feeling indeed, to wield this kind of power. To be this kind of force. As near "Pink is a keen observer of the culture of minimum-wage jobs and low-rent studio apartments that is the reality of life for all those who don't find a cog space in today's hyper-capitalist economy." —The Guardian It was maybe the first job I'd ever had where people were happy to see me. An odd feeling indeed, to wield this kind of power. To be this kind of force. As near to magical as any mortal should stride. A technician of unspeakable joy. Braving the neon mountains to return with blue raspberry concentrate. Tearing out sundae cone fangs from the mouths of snow beasts. And so on. Cone dealer, sunshine stealer, alleyway counselor, lunch lady to the homeless, friend to the dead, maker of sandwiches. Metal wrangler. Stag among stags. And so it goes—another journey through time spent punched in. A life's work of working for a living. Blood, death, and violence. Dirty dishes, dead roaches, and sparkler-lit nights. Nights ahead and no real fate. So open your mouths because the forecast calls for sprinkles. Thirteen delights, scooped and served. Let it melt down your hand. Let the sun burn your face. It's the ice cream man, and other stories.


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"Pink is a keen observer of the culture of minimum-wage jobs and low-rent studio apartments that is the reality of life for all those who don't find a cog space in today's hyper-capitalist economy." —The Guardian It was maybe the first job I'd ever had where people were happy to see me. An odd feeling indeed, to wield this kind of power. To be this kind of force. As near "Pink is a keen observer of the culture of minimum-wage jobs and low-rent studio apartments that is the reality of life for all those who don't find a cog space in today's hyper-capitalist economy." —The Guardian It was maybe the first job I'd ever had where people were happy to see me. An odd feeling indeed, to wield this kind of power. To be this kind of force. As near to magical as any mortal should stride. A technician of unspeakable joy. Braving the neon mountains to return with blue raspberry concentrate. Tearing out sundae cone fangs from the mouths of snow beasts. And so on. Cone dealer, sunshine stealer, alleyway counselor, lunch lady to the homeless, friend to the dead, maker of sandwiches. Metal wrangler. Stag among stags. And so it goes—another journey through time spent punched in. A life's work of working for a living. Blood, death, and violence. Dirty dishes, dead roaches, and sparkler-lit nights. Nights ahead and no real fate. So open your mouths because the forecast calls for sprinkles. Thirteen delights, scooped and served. Let it melt down your hand. Let the sun burn your face. It's the ice cream man, and other stories.

30 review for The Ice Cream Man and Other Stories

  1. 5 out of 5

    Paige

    This contains one short story that made sense and had a purpose. Mostly they are incoherent and have no end goal. There is a lot of babble. There is a two page story about him jumping rope, the end. A few stories reminded me of people talking about what happened at a party the night before or what happened at work earlier that day. For example, the opening story is the narrator and two others in the alley drinking, smoking, and chatting it up while watching a rat scurry about. I recommend this bo This contains one short story that made sense and had a purpose. Mostly they are incoherent and have no end goal. There is a lot of babble. There is a two page story about him jumping rope, the end. A few stories reminded me of people talking about what happened at a party the night before or what happened at work earlier that day. For example, the opening story is the narrator and two others in the alley drinking, smoking, and chatting it up while watching a rat scurry about. I recommend this book to no one. Thank you Netgalley for an advanced copy!

  2. 5 out of 5

    Lori

    Shit. If Sam Pink writes it, my ass is reading it. I feel sorry for the fuckers who give this book, or any Sam Pink book, a one star rating. His nameless narrators are every single one of us at some sad, fucked up point in our lives. Ok. Sure. You don't want to admit it out loud. You're worried about what people might think of you if word gets out. I get it. But give the guys some props. Showing off the ugly is not easy. And he does it so effortlessly, so readably. I can't get enough of it. His Shit. If Sam Pink writes it, my ass is reading it. I feel sorry for the fuckers who give this book, or any Sam Pink book, a one star rating. His nameless narrators are every single one of us at some sad, fucked up point in our lives. Ok. Sure. You don't want to admit it out loud. You're worried about what people might think of you if word gets out. I get it. But give the guys some props. Showing off the ugly is not easy. And he does it so effortlessly, so readably. I can't get enough of it. His protagonists are so honest it hurts... you can't seriously sit there and tell me you don't think (or ACT) like this sometimes? Not even on your worst day??? I call bullshit.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Nefariousbig

    Received an advanced copy for no favors. This is my unbiased review. As all great masters do, Sam Pink gives us parables, all simple, plain spoken, sometimes crude yet so deep and soulful to the mind's heart. He is the peid piper for the people whose life it is to "fingerfuck some food out of the drain so the filthy water will go away". He wants the reader to SEE these fogotten people, not just what they do, but who they are, what they feel, how they smell. Their contempt for others, their tenac Received an advanced copy for no favors. This is my unbiased review. As all great masters do, Sam Pink gives us parables, all simple, plain spoken, sometimes crude yet so deep and soulful to the mind's heart. He is the peid piper for the people whose life it is to "fingerfuck some food out of the drain so the filthy water will go away". He wants the reader to SEE these fogotten people, not just what they do, but who they are, what they feel, how they smell. Their contempt for others, their tenacious resolve to find a sliver of hope in the monotony of life. The silent and unseen who struggle through life one day at a time. He makes us see US. The meek ARE powerful in their hatred and love and compassion for each other, for the silent struggles we must all endure in our mind. Sam Pink does not tell us to follow, he doesn't seem to particularly want us to follow, but the reader cannot help but follow. As if entranced by the melody of his Song 7. He allows us to make up our own mind's heart. He shows us the dirty, stale, rancid, trash filled path, and we choose for ourself to walk with him. Because we know. He truly is the literary Ice Cream Man, "a technician of unspeakable joy."

  4. 5 out of 5

    Bandit

    I was completely drawn in by the main quote in the description. Not fitting into the world, low rent studios, low wage jobs and all that…all too relatable. Alas, maybe I overshot…or undershot with this one. Not quite the working class dramas of, say, Dan Chaon, this these are more of the bottom of the barrel denizens. Beaten down, dirty and hopeless…with the phrase no real fate on repeat. Pink’s protagonists were…well, they are the people you avoid in the park late at night, not quite downtrodde I was completely drawn in by the main quote in the description. Not fitting into the world, low rent studios, low wage jobs and all that…all too relatable. Alas, maybe I overshot…or undershot with this one. Not quite the working class dramas of, say, Dan Chaon, this these are more of the bottom of the barrel denizens. Beaten down, dirty and hopeless…with the phrase no real fate on repeat. Pink’s protagonists were…well, they are the people you avoid in the park late at night, not quite downtrodden so much as just profoundly dysfunctional and weirdly proud of it. Very strong gutterpunk type of atmosphere. All BO and cheap booze. Viscerally unpleasant. Stylistically…well, it’s very stylized. Most of it, in fact, reads like poetry, the weird kind that doesn’t rhyme and relies strictly on rhythm and delivery. So I didn’t really like either the characters or the writing. Looked up the author’s art, since he’s also an artist, and didn’t like that either. Not a lot…from a book that devotes an entire 6% to the author’s praises being sung by other writers. Seriously, that was probably the first sign. No book should be sold that much. A few quotes, sure, but pages and pages of it…overkill. And yet…this is exactly the sort of book that gathers this kind of attention and praise, it’s so hip and trendy, poetic poverty chic with Pink as the bard for the ugly dirty souls of his stories. Seems like an acquired taste sort of thing, at the very least. Certainly didn’t work for me. Almost at all. The main redeeming quality was how quickly it read and still that 85 minutes or so were not worth it. Might very well work for other readers. Who knows. Maybe like art, at least Pink’s art, it’s all a matter of personal preferences. Thanks Netgalley.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Stacie

    Have you ever had a job that you hated? Like, really, really hated? You know, that one job where you spent every day despising everyone and everything around you? That one job where it sucked the life out of you and turned you into a venom-soaked creature of perpetual resentment? You know...that job? Because this short story collection is the literary embodiment of that state of existence. If you ever wanted to buckle up for another spin through that hate-train, then this is the reading experienc Have you ever had a job that you hated? Like, really, really hated? You know, that one job where you spent every day despising everyone and everything around you? That one job where it sucked the life out of you and turned you into a venom-soaked creature of perpetual resentment? You know...that job? Because this short story collection is the literary embodiment of that state of existence. If you ever wanted to buckle up for another spin through that hate-train, then this is the reading experience for you. I don't know what it says about me, but I did relate to a solid chunk of these stories. This collection wasn't fun to read. It wasn't easy to read. However, it was oddly relatable in a twisted way. The Ice Cream Man and Other Stories takes the minutiae of every day life, and breaks it down into even smaller misery-filled segments. Pink's writing can be best described as brutally honest stream of consciousness. Some things are eerily accurate to experiences I've had before, and others weren't as impactful. As with any short story collection, there will be certain stories that just don't click & other stories that you loved. Overall though, this did make me feel something. It wasn't feel-good by any means, but it did get a reaction out of me at the end of the day. If you're a fan of Pink's other work, I think this would be a decent book to pick up.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Joshua Chaplinsky

    Sam Pink don't stink. Sam Pink don't stink.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Jo Quenell

    This is Sam Pink at his most mature. It follows the tradition of work/anti-work literature like Rivethead and Factotum while retaining Pink’s signature manic style. The story ‘Blue Victoria’ is the most powerful work of his that I’ve read. While I prefer The No-Hello’s Diet and The Garbage Times, I’m still giving this 5 stars to counter the dildo who gave it a one star review in the form of a pretentious masturbatory poem. Fuck that guy, I hope he gets gored by a stag.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Kevin Sterne

    Sam Pink is the voice of the working class. Sam Pink is telling stories that deserve to be told, but noone else is telling. Sam Pink colors the lives of minimum wage workers. Sam Pink is one of our last hopes in these times. Sam Pink is one of our best writers.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Nathaniel Perkins

    Nobody does the happy/sad one-two punch like Sam Pink. I laughed out loud on my lunch break today while reading. I teared up a little, too. Probably Pink's best work to date. Damn. Nobody does the happy/sad one-two punch like Sam Pink. I laughed out loud on my lunch break today while reading. I teared up a little, too. Probably Pink's best work to date. Damn.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Mark

    This is a terrific collection of stories. It is rare they we get stories, told from the viewpoint, of the lower working class. The folks that toil as dishwashers, assembly line workers and yes, ice cream delivery drivers. This could have been a bleak reading experience, but the author injects enough humor and optimism, that it keeps the dark subject matter buoyant.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Alex Ferland

    Every new Sam Pink book is a monumental event. The gods of the dejected and the discarded come down from the mountain and knock at your door with 13 stories etched in permanent marker on post its. They begin sticking the post its all over your small, crappy apartment. At first, you're resentful of the post its. Eventually, though, you begin reading them here and there and patterns begin to emerge. Fragmentary, matter-of-fact, day to day events are occurring, all in the service of showcasing that Every new Sam Pink book is a monumental event. The gods of the dejected and the discarded come down from the mountain and knock at your door with 13 stories etched in permanent marker on post its. They begin sticking the post its all over your small, crappy apartment. At first, you're resentful of the post its. Eventually, though, you begin reading them here and there and patterns begin to emerge. Fragmentary, matter-of-fact, day to day events are occurring, all in the service of showcasing that no matter how broke you are, no matter how crappy your job is - and it can be insanely crappy - no matter how much of a deadbeat your roommate is, it's going to be alright. There are moments of human connection to be had, and they are everything. Small kindnesses. Understanding. The hypnotic nature of some manual labor at a job where you barely exist as a human being. Bonding with coworkers through fantasies of the hypothetical violence you both imagine inflicting on customers, each other, everyone. Fishing on a quiet morning with a friend you have been through so much with, but who you have lost contact with for a long time because life happens. He presents the people who have surrounded me all my life without judgment ( except for Victoria's boyfriend, fuck that guy.) As always, this book is the easiest thing to read ever. There's no pretense. It's all poetic, flowing, hypnotic stuff that reads like a union of prose and poetry. In the last two books Pink has released, the flights of fancy focusing on intense self-harm and hallucinatory surrealism have reared their head less and less often, being mostly replaced by more quiet, measured humor and melancholy. He's as much of a factotum as Bukowski was, but unlike Bukowski, doesn't see his coworkers as beneath him. They are all equally a part of the multicultural, oppressed majority, taken advantage of by their employers in every way possible and struggling to get by while using humor to lift each other up. It's strangely uplifting, is what I'm saying, which I would not have expected from the man who wrote Person and some of the most crushing poetry out there. PS: Blue Victoria is an amazing story. I cried reading it.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Ryan Mitrovich

    Resplendent in their mundanity, these stories are full of grace, humor and raw power. By giving soul to the characters at the periphery of our society and with sentences that soar in their simplicity, Sam Pink shows us the victory of simply existing in this world.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Cindy

    The stories in this collection overflow with raw energy and visceral imagery. Cult favorite Sam Pink introduces strivers, deadbeats, dishwashers and, yes, an ice-cream man. His characters are alternately grotesque and heroic as they hustle to survive, and while some make it, others don't. His writing is often funny and always poetic as he explores the spectrum of hope to hopelessness. Hunter Thompson would recognize the people in these stories, and Pink's similarly gonzo view of life is on full The stories in this collection overflow with raw energy and visceral imagery. Cult favorite Sam Pink introduces strivers, deadbeats, dishwashers and, yes, an ice-cream man. His characters are alternately grotesque and heroic as they hustle to survive, and while some make it, others don't. His writing is often funny and always poetic as he explores the spectrum of hope to hopelessness. Hunter Thompson would recognize the people in these stories, and Pink's similarly gonzo view of life is on full display. Fans of Pink's writing will be delighted with a new offering, and those new to his work will understand what the fuss is about.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Carolyn

    Loved the book, let my 20 year old daughter use it when I was done and she has informed me I am not getting it back.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Sebastian Castillo

    I've been reading the books of Sam Pink since he released Person. Looking now, I see that Person was published in 2010, which somehow seems impossible. I find myself staring at a smudge in the ceiling above me, asking: Ten years? I hear a car driving by outside my window; the ceiling says nothing. Nothing! I am reminded of the narrator in "Wants" by Grace Paley: "First, my father was sick that Friday, then the children were born, then I had those Tuesday-night meetings, then the war began." Ah w I've been reading the books of Sam Pink since he released Person. Looking now, I see that Person was published in 2010, which somehow seems impossible. I find myself staring at a smudge in the ceiling above me, asking: Ten years? I hear a car driving by outside my window; the ceiling says nothing. Nothing! I am reminded of the narrator in "Wants" by Grace Paley: "First, my father was sick that Friday, then the children were born, then I had those Tuesday-night meetings, then the war began." Ah well. I've more or less read everything that Sam has published since then. My favorites among those are Rontel and White Ibis. Two crispy, succulent books. I would now add The Ice Cream Man and Other Stories to that list of favorites. In a message to Sam, I said, "I found myself smiling, laughing, and appreciating something that I can’t name as I read these stories." That sentiment is true for each story in the book. Sam's capacity for humor in his work has always been impressive to me. Nothing in the books come across as intentionally funny—the moments of laughter are not produced by what I would call "jokes." Instead, the humor comes from observations of the strange, absurd percussions in everyday life. This has been said in previous reviews of Sam's books, probably, and it continues to be true here. In some ways, I feel that all of Sam Pink's books are part of a greater, unified book. I would say the same of writers like Bernhard, Bolaño, Lispector, Notley. Some of the stories are brutal ("Yop," "Blue Victoria"). Reading them, I couldn't help but feel a kind of powerlessness against the violence and general misery of the universe. My two favorites in the collection ("The Ice Cream Man," "The Machine Operator") offer a fullness of life in a short story that I've experienced only a few times as a reader. In the latter story, the narrator receives a pair of steel-toed boots from a temp agency. The boots were originally reserved for a man named DeMontero Smith; he never picked them up. Throughout the story, the narrator refers back to this man as an anonymous source of power, fortitude, hope. He says: DeMontero, teach us laughter. DeMontero, remind us to be kind. DeMontero, protect me. These are all very funny moments. I've found myself in the past few days doing the same. Making oatmeal, I say, DeMontero, give us strength. Writing an email, I say, DeMontero, remind us to breathe. Doing the dishes, I say, DeMontero, teach us to laugh. Sometimes reading can teach one beneficent habits. If I were not quarantined, I would ride down the streets of anonymous American cities on a motorcycle, shooting a rifle into the air, and say: read The Ice Cream Man and Other Stories by Sam Pink.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Jason

    I love Sam Pink. I have tried reading everything of his that I can. I was in the middle of a “don’t buy anything new... only read the backlog 2020 resolution” when I saw this released and instantly bought it, dropping the book I was in the middle of. Every story, I take something away. He has so much love for the world, in the smallest things, the quiet things, the real things. He captures something about humanity in a way almost no one else does or can. His writing is just so honest and profound I love Sam Pink. I have tried reading everything of his that I can. I was in the middle of a “don’t buy anything new... only read the backlog 2020 resolution” when I saw this released and instantly bought it, dropping the book I was in the middle of. Every story, I take something away. He has so much love for the world, in the smallest things, the quiet things, the real things. He captures something about humanity in a way almost no one else does or can. His writing is just so honest and profound... it’s the lens he uses, that I can totally relate to yet could never articulate. Somehow he has tapped into that and broken it down into his own language. I know this might sound crazy, but it is what his writing does to me, in a way almost no one else does. I would definitely say the story of him and his childhood friends is a huge success, much more accessible to those unfamiliar with him. It rocked me and has stuck with me. I’ll end by saying that I just love how my mind works in the midst of Sam Pink readings. I am looking forward to whatever happens next.

  17. 4 out of 5

    AB

    I almost put the book down after the first story but I'm happy that I picked it back up. There are a lot of good stories in here that reminded me of why I started to enjoy books like this. The Chicago and Florida sections were my favorite and while Michigan was good some of that charm that I loved from the former two sections was not there. Its unique, everyday (in a good way) stories about life. You don't really need the tidy one liner at the end to have it all make sense. You can enjoy the jou I almost put the book down after the first story but I'm happy that I picked it back up. There are a lot of good stories in here that reminded me of why I started to enjoy books like this. The Chicago and Florida sections were my favorite and while Michigan was good some of that charm that I loved from the former two sections was not there. Its unique, everyday (in a good way) stories about life. You don't really need the tidy one liner at the end to have it all make sense. You can enjoy the journey of reading it.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Patrick King

    This is an insightful, tender collection of stories, probably my favorite of Pink’s books so far. I’ve noticed other reviews mention it being “senseless” or “purposeless,” but I think that they’re not recognizing the space between the sentences (as pretentious as that sounds). These stories breathe, expand, reach out. Or maybe I just have a different idea of what purpose or sense is. I hesitate to simplify, but you could say “blue collar Lydia Davis” and you wouldn’t be too far off. This is vita This is an insightful, tender collection of stories, probably my favorite of Pink’s books so far. I’ve noticed other reviews mention it being “senseless” or “purposeless,” but I think that they’re not recognizing the space between the sentences (as pretentious as that sounds). These stories breathe, expand, reach out. Or maybe I just have a different idea of what purpose or sense is. I hesitate to simplify, but you could say “blue collar Lydia Davis” and you wouldn’t be too far off. This is vital literature that is pulsing, pumping, jumping rope in an alley, doing push-ups in the woods behind the house.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Jerome Spencer

    Damn, man... Sam Pink just keeps getting better and better. This book made me laugh so much and then I was really surprised to realize I was also kind of sad. There are many sincere moments of weepy joy that made me believe in humanity (for a second).

  20. 4 out of 5

    Alicia Allen

    i could not put this book down! It was a very easy, enjoyable read. If you do not like reading short stories that may be aimless and mundane, you may not get this book. But I did. It was totally relatable. All of the voices were very real and regular everyday people living everyday people lives. I cannot really put into words how genius this writing style is.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Craig

    Pinkus Icecreamus Technician I’d already read The Dishwasher online several times and shared it with everyone I know who feels ramekins do not belong on this planet. Now this. Blue Victoria is a storical masterpiece worth the entire cover fare. Did the early 80s Butthole Surfers really live with a Flannery Connor reading 4 am donut maker Exene in a Chicago firetrap? You’ll have to find out. (The Stag is also a masterpiece.)

  22. 5 out of 5

    Jonathan Lee B.

    The Ice Cream Man and Other Stories is popping candy.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Colin Feely

    Fantastic as always from Sam Pink. He has, especially in this volume, am very real way of describing working. His stories about the relationships between coworkers feel real and compelling in much the same ways that those relationships are compelling personally. For me, Blue Victoria, stands out as the best piece. It seems the one most rooted in the uneasiness I feel in a lot of Pinks writing, an uneasiness in describing something empathetic, zen, and anxiety ridden, some feeling deep down that Fantastic as always from Sam Pink. He has, especially in this volume, am very real way of describing working. His stories about the relationships between coworkers feel real and compelling in much the same ways that those relationships are compelling personally. For me, Blue Victoria, stands out as the best piece. It seems the one most rooted in the uneasiness I feel in a lot of Pinks writing, an uneasiness in describing something empathetic, zen, and anxiety ridden, some feeling deep down that we feel in sublime moments. Not sublime ecstasy but sublime reality. I’m incredibly sad for the unimaginative readers who reviewed this so negatively.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Jace Einfeldt

    So many of these stories left me heartbroken and hopeful all at the same time. Each line is loaded from beginning to end, exploding out the sides and dripping off the page. This is my first encounter with Pink’s work, and based on this experience, he will be a writer I’ll keeping coming back to.

  25. 4 out of 5

    George Monard

    There’s a wonderful structure to this collection. Separated into sections: Chicago, Florida, Michigan. The stories that Sam Pink tells of these places have a an almost documentary flavor to them. Like Sam worked at the restaurant in The Dishwasher it was in fact The Ice Cream Man. The prose and structure of his fiction has a distance and poetry and is at times hyper real. A close film analogue would be the work of anonymous filmmaker Trapped, who’s film Gothic King Cobra also captures an America There’s a wonderful structure to this collection. Separated into sections: Chicago, Florida, Michigan. The stories that Sam Pink tells of these places have a an almost documentary flavor to them. Like Sam worked at the restaurant in The Dishwasher it was in fact The Ice Cream Man. The prose and structure of his fiction has a distance and poetry and is at times hyper real. A close film analogue would be the work of anonymous filmmaker Trapped, who’s film Gothic King Cobra also captures an America of this transient moment. Loved this a lot.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Chase Griffin

    SP effortlessly boils down the modern human experience to a smooth, delicious soup like a master saucier who cooks with the restaurant sink gunk, half-eaten dumpster sandwiches, and rat turds. I'll take seconds and thirds and fourths. SP effortlessly boils down the modern human experience to a smooth, delicious soup like a master saucier who cooks with the restaurant sink gunk, half-eaten dumpster sandwiches, and rat turds. I'll take seconds and thirds and fourths.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Albert

    Another great offering from Sam. Favorite was The Stag. Blue victoria was also very memorable.

  28. 4 out of 5

    O Prism

    Nope. Not my cup of tea. No idea what to make of this author or stories. I’m all for pushing boundaries, but stopped reading at references to deliberate animal injury. Profanity galore. Creative? To an extent. Disturbing? Oh yes. Avant-garde it is not. For me this was unreadable. Would not recommend unless you are a masochist. Thank,you to Netgalley for an ARC in exchange for my honest opinion.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Dean Harris

    Sam knows how to put you in the body and mind of a character. Favourite story was probably 'The Stag' but I enjoyed them all. Sam knows how to put you in the body and mind of a character. Favourite story was probably 'The Stag' but I enjoyed them all.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Tyler Barton

    Incredibly fresh. This is the book you need after reading too much bullshit.

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