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Thursday Next in The well of lost plots : a novel /

by Fforde, Jasper.
Material type: materialTypeLabelBookPublisher: New York : Viking, 2004Edition: 1st American ed.Description: xv, 375 p. : col. ill. ; 22 cm.ISBN: 0670032891 (alk. paper) :.Title notes: $24.95 4-2004Other title: Well of lost plots.Subject(s): Next, Thursday (Fictitious character) -- Fiction | Characters and characteristics in literature -- Fiction | Women detectives -- Great Britain -- Fiction | Books and reading -- Fiction | Time travel -- Fiction | Libraries -- Fiction | Fantasy fiction | Mystery fiction
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Item type Home library Collection Shelving location Call number Status Date due Barcode
Books Books Altadena Main Library
Adult Collection Adult Mystery M FFO Available 39270002491268

Enhanced descriptions from Syndetics:

Jasper Fforde has done it again in this absolutely brilliant feat of literary showmanship. Join Thursday Next as she encounters some of the greatest characters in literature and battles deadly villians who literally leap off the page. When it comes to sheer wit, literate fantasy, and effervescent originality, nobody can touch this new Ffordian tour de force. -Lost in a Good Bookappeared on The New York Timesextended bestseller list and was a San Francisco Chroniclebestseller -The Eyre Affair was a New York Timesbestseller and a Book Sense76 Pick -Penguin will publish Lost in a Good Booksimultaneously -The fourth book in the series is forthcoming from Viking

$24.95 4-2004

Table of contents provided by Syndetics

  • Thursday Next: The Story So Far ... (p. xiii)
  • Author's Note (p. xv)
  • 1. The Absence of Breakfast (p. 1)
  • 2. Inside Caversham Heights (p. 14)
  • 3. Three Witches, Multiple Choice and Sarcasm (p. 26)
  • 4. Landen Parke-Laine (p. 35)
  • 5. The Well of Lost Plots (p. 43)
  • 6. Night of the Grammasites (p. 63)
  • 7. Feeding the Minotaur (p. 73)
  • 8. Ton-Sixty on the A419 (p. 82)
  • 9. Apples Benedict, a Hedgehog and Commander Bradshaw (p. 91)
  • 10. Jurisfiction Session No. 40319 (p. 99)
  • 11. Introducing Ultra World (p. 112)
  • 12. Wuthering Heights (p. 123)
  • 13. Reservoir near the Church of St. Stephen (p. 135)
  • 14. Educating the Generics (p. 136)
  • 15. Landen Parke-Somebody (p. 145)
  • 16. Captain Nemo (p. 152)
  • 17. Minotaur Trouble (p. 159)
  • 18. Snell Rest in Peece and Lucy Deane (p. 172)
  • 19. Shadow the Sheepdog (p. 189)
  • 20. Ibb and Obb Named and Heights Again (p. 204)
  • 21. Who Stole the Tarts? (p. 223)
  • 22. Crimean Nightmares (p. 234)
  • 23. Jurisfiction Session No. 40320 (p. 244)
  • 24. Pledges, the Council of Genres and Searching for Deane (p. 257)
  • 25. Havisham--the Final Bow (p. 265)
  • 26. Post-Havisham Blues (p. 272)
  • 27. The Lighthouse at the Edge of My Mind (p. 280)
  • 28. Lola Departs and Heights Again (p. 287)
  • 29. Mrs. Bradshaw and Solomon (Judgments) Inc. (p. 295)
  • 30. Revelations (p. 307)
  • 31. Tables Turned (p. 317)
  • 32. The 923rd Annual Book World Awards (p. 329)
  • 33. Ultra Word (p. 347)
  • 34. Loose Ends (p. 354)
  • 34a. Heavy Weather (Bonus chapter exclusive to the U.S. edition) (p. 363)
  • Credits (p. 375)

Excerpt provided by Syndetics

<opt> <anon I1="BLANK" I2="BLANK">1. The Absence of Breakfast The Well of Lost Plots. To understand the Well you have to have an idea of the layout of the Great Library. The library is where all published fiction is stored so it can be read by the readers in the Outland; there are twenty-six floors, one for each letter of the alphabet. The library is constructed in the layout of a cross with the four corridors radiating from the center point. On all the walls, end after end, shelf after shelf, are books. Hundreds, thousands, millions of books. Hardbacks, paperbacks, leatherbound, everything. But the similarity of all these books to the copies we read back home is no more than the similarity a photograph has to its subject; these books are alive. Beneath the Great Library are twenty-six floors of dingy yet industrious subbasements known as the Well of Lost Plots. This is where books are constructed, honed and polished in readiness for a place in the library aboveóif they make it that far. The failure rate is high. Unpublished books outnumber published by an estimated eight to one. THURSDAY NEXT, The Jurisfiction Chronicles MAKING ONEíS HOME in an unpublished novel wasnít without its compensations. All the boring day-to-day mundanities that we conduct in the real world get in the way of narrative flow and are thus generally avoided. The car didnít need refueling, there were never any wrong numbers, there was always enough hot water, and vacuum cleaner bags came in only two sizesóupright and pull along. There were other more subtle differences, too. For instance, no one ever needed to repeat themselves in case you didnít hear, no one shared the same name, talked at the same time or had a word annoyingly ìon the tip of their tongue.î Best of all, the bad guy was always someone you knew of, andóChaucer asideóthere wasnít much farting. But there were some downsides. The relative absence of breakfast was the first and most notable difference to my daily timetable. Inside books, dinners are often written about and therefore feature frequently, as do lunches and afternoon tea; probably because they offer more opportunities to further the story. Breakfast wasnít all that was missing. There was a peculiar lack of cinemas, wallpaper, toilets, colors, books, animals, underwear, smells, haircuts, and strangely enough, minor illnesses. If someone was ill in a book, it was either terminal and dramatically unpleasant or a mild head coldóthere wasnít much in between. I was able to take up residence inside fiction by virtue of a scheme entitled the Character Exchange Program. Due to a spate of bored and disgruntled bookpeople escaping from their novels and becoming what we called PageRunners, the authorities set up the scheme to allow characters a change of scenery. In any year there are close to ten thousand exchanges, few of which result in any major plot or dialogue infringementsóthe reader rarely suspects anything at all. Since I was from the real world and not actually a character at all, the Bellman and Miss Havisham had agreed to let me live inside the BookWorld in exchange for helping out at Jurisfictionóat least as long as my pregnancy would allow. The choice of book for my self-enforced exile had not been arbitrary; when Miss Havisham asked me in which novel I would care to reside, I had thought long and hard. Robinson Crusoe would have been ideal considering the climate, but there was no one female to exchange with. I could have gone to Pride and Prejudice, but I wasnít wild about high collars, bonnets, corsetsóand delicate manners. No, to avoid any complications and reduce the possibility of having to move, I had decided to make my home in a book of such dubious and uneven quality that publication and my subsequent enforced ejection was unlikely in the extreme. I found just such a book deep within the Well of Lost Plots amongst failed attempts at prose and half-finished epics of such dazzling ineptness that they would never see the light of day. The book was a dreary crime thriller set in Reading entitled Caversham Heights. I had planned to stay there for only a year, but it didnít work out that way. Plans with me are like De Floss novelsótry as you might, you never know quite how they are going to turn out. I read my way into Caversham Heights. The air felt warm after the wintry conditions back home, and I found myself standing on a wooden jetty at the edge of a lake. In front of me there was a large and seemingly derelict flying boat of the sort that still plied the coastal routes back home. I had flown on one myself not six months before on the trail of someone claiming to have found some unpublished Burns poetry. But that was another lifetime ago, when I was SpecOps in Swindon, the world I had temporarily left behind. The ancient flying boat rocked gently in the breeze, tautening the mooring ropes and creaking gently, the water gently slapping against the hull. As I watched the old aircraft, wondering just how long something this decrepit could stay afloat, a well-dressed young woman stepped out of an oval-shaped door in the high- sided hull. She was carrying a suitcase. I had read the novel of Caversham Heights so I knew Mary well although she didnít know me. ìHullo!î she shouted, trotting up and offering me a hand. ìIím Mary. You must be Thursday. My goodness! Whatís that?î ìA dodo. Her nameís Pickwick.î Pickwick plocked and stared at Mary suspiciously. ìReally?î she replied, looking at the bird curiously. ìIím no expert of course butóI thought dodoes were extinct.î ìWhere I come from, theyíre a bit of a pest.î ìOh?î mused Mary. ìIím not sure Iíve heard of a book with live dodoes in it.î ìIím not a bookperson,î I told her, ìIím real.î ìOh!î exclaimed Mary, opening her eyes wide. ìAn Outlander.î She touched me inquisitively with a slender index finger as though I might be made of glass. ìIíve never seen someone from the other side before,î she announced, clearly relieved to find that I wasnít going to shatter into a thousand pieces. ìTell me, is it true you have to cut your hair on a regular basis? I mean, your hair actually grows?î ìYesîóI smiledóìand my fingernails, too.î ìReally?î mused Mary. ìIíve heard rumors about that but I thought it was just one of those Outlandish legends. I suppose you have to eat, too? To stay alive, I mean, not just when the story calls for it?î ìOne of the great pleasures of life,î I assured her. I didnít think Iíd tell her about real-world downsides such as tooth decay, incontinence, or old age. Mary lived in a three-year window and neither aged, died, married, had children, got sick or changed in any way. Although appearing resolute and strong-minded, she was only like this because she was written that way. For all her qualities, Mary was simply a foil to Jack Spratt, the detective in Caversham Heights, the loyal sergeant figure to whom Jack explained things so the readers knew what was going on. She was what writers called an expositional, but Iíd never be as impolite to say so to her face. ìIs this where Iím going to live?î I was pointing at the shabby flying boat. ìI know what youíre thinking.î Mary smiled proudly. ìIsnít she just the most beautiful thing ever? Sheís a Sunderland; built in 1943 but last flew in í68. Iím midway converting her to a houseboat, but donít feel shy if you want to help out. Just keep the bilges pumped out, and if you can run the number three engine once a month, Iíd be very gratefulóthe start-up checklist is on the flight deck.î ìWellóokay,î I muttered. ìGood. Iíve left a prÈcis of the story taped to the fridge and a rough idea of what you have to say, but donít worry about being word perfect; since weíre not published, you can say almost anything you wantówithin reason, of course.î ìOf course.î I thought for a moment. ìIím new to the Character Exchange Program. When will I be called to do something?î ìWyatt is the inbook exchange liaison officer; heíll let you know. Jack might seem gruff to begin with,î continued Mary, ìbut he has a heart of gold. If he asks you to drive his Austin Allegro, make sure you depress the clutch fully before changing gear. He takes his coffee black and the love interest between myself and DC Baker is strictly unrequited, is that clear?î ìVery clear,î I returned, thankful I would not have to do any love scenes. ìGood. Did they supply you with all the necessary paperwork, IDs, that sort of thing?î I patted my pocket and she handed me a scrap of paper and a bunch of keys. ìGood. This is my footnoterphone number in case of emergencies, these are the keys to the flying boat and my BMW. If a loser named Arnold calls, tell him I hope he rots in hell. Any questions?î ìI donít think so.î She smiled as a yellow cab with TransGenre Taxis painted on the side materialized in front of us. The cabbie looked bored and Mary opened the passenger door. ìThen weíre done. Youíll like it here. Iíll see you in about a year. So long!î She turned to the cabbie, muttered, ìGet me out of this book,î and she and the car faded out, leaving me alone on the dusty track. I sat upon a rickety wooden seat next to a tub of long-dead flowers and let Pickwick out of her bag. She ruffled her feathers indignantly and blinked in the sunlight. I looked across the lake at the sailing dinghies that were little more than brightly colored triangles that tacked backwards and forwards in the distance. Nearer to shore a pair of swans beat their wings furiously and pedaled the water in an attempt to take off, landing almost as soon as they were airborne, throwing up a long streak of spray on the calm waters. It seemed a lot of effort to go a few hundred yards. I turned my attention to the flying boat. The layers of paint that covered and protected the riveted hull had partly peeled off to reveal the colorful livery of long-forgotten airlines beneath. The Perspex windows had clouded with age, and high in the massive wing untidy cables hung lazily from the oil-stained cowlings of the three empty engine bays, their safe inaccessibility now a haven for nesting birds. Goliath, Aornis, and SpecOps seemed a million miles awayóbut then, so did Landen. Landen. Memories of my husband were never far away. I thought of all the times we had spent together that hadnít actually happened. All the places we hadnít visited, all the things we hadnít done. He might have been eradicated at the age of two, but I still had our memoriesójust no one to share them with. I was interrupted from my thoughts by the sound of a motorcycle approaching. The rider didnít have much control of the vehicle; I was glad that he stopped short of the jettyóhis erratic riding might well have led him straight into the lake. ìHullo!î he said cheerfully, removing his helmet to reveal a youngish man with a dark Mediterranean complexion and deep sunken eyes. ìMy nameís Arnold. I havenít seen you around here before, have I?î I got up and shook his hand. ìThe nameís Next. Thursday Next. Character Exchange Program.î ìOh, blast!î he muttered. ìBlast and double blast! I suppose that means Iíve missed her?î I nodded and he shook his head sadly. ìDid she leave a message for me?î ìY-es,î I said uncertainly. ìShe said she would, um, see you when she gets back.î ìShe did?î replied Arnold, brightening up. ìThatís a good sign. Normally she calls me a loser and tells me to go rot in hell.î ìShe probably wonít be back for a while,î I added, trying to make up for not passing on Maryís message properly, ìmaybe a yearómaybe more.î ìI see,î he murmured, sighing deeply and staring off across the lake. He caught sight of Pickwick, who was attempting to outstare a strange aquatic bird with a rounded bill. ìWhatís that?î he asked suddenly. ìI think itís a duck, although I canít be sureówe donít have any where I come from.î ìNo, the other thing.î ìA dodo.î1 ìWhatís the matter?î asked Arnold. I was getting a footnoterphone signal; in the BookWorld people generally communicated like this. ìA footnoterphone call,î I replied, ìbut itís not a messageóitís like the wireless back home.î2 Arnold stared at me. ìYouíre not from around here, are you?î ìIím from the other side of the page. What you call the Outland.î3 He opened his eyes wide. ìYou meanóyouíre real?î ìIím afraid so,î I replied, slightly bemused. ìGoodness! Is it true that Outlanders canít say ëred-Buick-blue-Buickí many times quickly?î ìItís true. We call it a tongue twister.î ìFascinating! Thereís nothing like that here, you know. I can say ëThe sixth sheikhís sixth sheepís sickí over and over as many times as I want!î 1. ì... This is WOLP-12 on the Well of Lost Plotsí own footnoterphone station, transmitting live on the hour every hour to keep you up-to-date with news in the Fiction Factory...î 2. ì... After the headlines you can hear our weekly documentary show WellSpeak, where today we will discuss hiding exposition; following that there will be a WellNews special on the launch of the new Book Operating System, UltraWordô, featuring a live studio debate with WordMaster Xavier Libris of Text Grand Central...î 3. ì... here are the main points of the news. Prices of semicolons, plot devices, prologues and inciting incidents continued to fall yesterday, lopping twenty-eight points off the TomJones Index. The Council of Genres has announced the nominations for the 923rd annual BookWorld Awards; Heathcliff is once again to head the Most Troubled Romantic Lead category, for the seventy-eighth year running...î And he did, three times. ìNow you try.î I took a deep breath. ìThe sixth spleeps sics sleeks... sick.î Arnold laughed like a drain. I donít think heíd come across anything quite so funny in his life. I smiled. ìDo it again!î ìNo thanks.4 How do I stop this footnoterphone blabbering inside my skull?î ìJust think Off very strongly.î I did, and the footnoterphone stopped. ìBetter?î I nodded. ìYouíll get the hang of it.î He thought for a minute, looked up and down the lake in an overtly innocent manner, then said, ìDo you want to buy some verbs? Not any of your rubbish, either. Good, strong, healthy regularsóstraight from the Text SeaóI have a friend on a scrawltrawler.î I smiled. ìI donít think so, Arnoldóand I donít think you should ask meóIím Jurisfiction.î ìOh,î said Arnold, looking pale all of a sudden. He bit his lip and gave such an imploring look that I almost laughed. ìDonít sweat,î I told him, ìI wonít report it.î He sighed a deep sigh of relief, muttered his thanks, remounted his motorbike and drove off in a jerky fashion, narrowly missing the mailboxes at the top of the track. The interior of the flying boat was lighter and more airy than I had imagined, but it smelt a bit musty. Mary was mistaken; she had not been halfway through the craftís conversionóit was more like one-tenth. The walls were half-paneled with pine tongue- 4. ì... A new epic poem is to be constructed for the first time in eighty-seven years. Title and subject to be announced, but pundits reckon that itís a pointless exercise: skills have all but died out. Next week will also see the launch of a new shopping chain offering off-the-peg narrative requisites. It will be called PrÍt-ý-Šcrire...î and-groove, and rock-wool insulation stuck out untidily along with unused electrical cables. There was room for two floors within the boatís cavernous hull, the downstairs a large, open-plan living room with a couple of old sofas pointing towards a television set. I tried to switch it on but it was deadóthere was no TV in the BookWorld unless called for in the narrative. Much of what I could see around me were merely props, necessary for the chapter in which Jack Spratt visits the Sunderland to discuss the case. On the mantelpiece above a small wood-burning stove were pictures of Mary from her days at the police training college, and another from when she was promoted to detective sergeant. I opened a door that led into a small kitchenette. Attached to the fridge was the prÈcis of Caversham Heights. I flicked through it. The sequence of events was pretty much as I remembered from my first reading in the Well, although it seemed that Mary had overstated her role in some of the puzzle-solving areas. I put the prÈcis down, found a bowl and filled it with water for Pickwick, took her egg from my bag and laid it on the sofa, where she quickly set about turning it over and tapping it gently with her beak. I went forward and discovered a bedroom where the nose turret would have been and climbed a narrow aluminum ladder to the flight deck directly above. This was the best view in the house, the large greenhouselike Perspex windows affording a vista of the lake. The massive control wheels were set in front of two comfortable chairs, and facing them and ahead of a tangled mass of engine control levers was a complex panel of broken and faded instruments. To my right I could see the one remaining engine, looking forlorn, the propeller blades streaked with bird droppings. Behind the pilotsí seats, where the flight engineer would have sat, there was a desk with reading lamp, footnoterphone and typewriter. On the bookshelf were mainly magazines of a police nature and lots of forensic textbooks. I walked through a narrow doorway and found a pleasant bedroom. The headroom was not overgenerous, but it was cozy and dry and was paneled in pine with a porthole above the double bed. Behind the bedroom was a storeroom, a hot-water boiler, stacks of wood and a spiral staircase. I was just about to go downstairs when I heard someone speak from the living room below. ìWhat do you think that is?î The voice had an empty ring to it and was neuter in its inflectionóI couldnít tell if it was male or female. I stopped and instinctively pulled my automatic from my shoulder holster. Mary lived aloneóor so it had said in the book. As I moved slowly downstairs, I heard another voice answer the first: ìI think itís a bird of some sort.î The second voice was no more distinctive than the first, and indeed, if the second voice had not been answering the first, I might have thought they belonged to the same person. As I rounded the staircase, I saw two figures standing in the middle of the room staring at Pickwick, who stared back, courageously protecting her egg from behind a sofa. ìHey!î I said, pointing my gun in their direction. ìHold it right there!î The two figures looked up and stared at me without expression from features that were as insipid and muted as their voices. Because of their equal blandness it was impossible to tell them apart. Their arms hung limply by their sides, exhibiting no body language. They might have been angry or curious or worried or elatedóbut I couldnít tell. ìWho are you?î I asked. ìWe are nobody,î replied the one on the left. ìEveryone is someone,î I replied. ìNot altogether correct,î said the one on the right. ìWe have a code number but nothing more. I am TSI- 1404912-A and this is TSI-1404912-C.î ìWhat happened to B?î ìTaken by a grammasite last Tuesday.î I lowered my gun. Miss Havisham had told me about Generics. They were created here in the Well to populate the books that were to be written. At the point of creation they were simply a human canvas without paintóblank like a coin, ready to be stamped with individualism. They had no history, no conflicts, no foiblesónothing that might make them either readable or interesting in any way. It was up to various institutions to teach them to be useful members of fiction. They were graded, too. A to D, one through ten. Any that were D-graded were like worker bees in crowds and busy streets. Small speaking parts were C-grades; B-grades usually made up the bulk of featured but not leading characters. These parts usuallyóbut not alwaysówent to the A-grades, handpicked for their skills at character projection and multidimensionality. Huckleberry Finn, Tess and Anna Karenina were all A-grades, but then so were Mr. Hyde, Hannibal Lecter and Professor Moriarty. I looked at the ungraded Generics again. Murderers or heroes? It was impossible to tell how they would turn out. Still, at this stage of their development they would be harmless. I reholstered my automatic. ìYouíre Generics, right?î ìIndeed,î they said in unison. ìWhat are you doing here?î ìYou remember the craze for minimalism?î asked the one on the right. ìYes?î I replied, moving closer to stare at their blank faces curiously. There was a lot about the Well that I was going to have to get used to. They were harmless enoughóbut decidedly creepy. Pickwick was still hiding behind the sofa. ìIt was caused by the 1982 character shortage,î said the one on the left. ìVikram Seth is planning a large book in the next few years and I donít think the Well wants to be caught out againóweíre being manufactured and then sent to stay in unpublished novels until we are called into service.î ìSort of stockpiled, you mean?î ìIíd prefer the word billeted,î replied the one on the left, the slight indignation indicating that it wouldnít be without a personality forever. ìHow long have you been here?î ìTwo months,î replied the one on the right. ìWe are awaiting placement at St. Tabularasaís Generic College for basic character training. I live in the spare bedroom in the tail.î ìSo do I,î added the one on the left. ìLikewise.î I paused for a moment. ìO-kay. Since we all have to live together, I had better give you names. You,î I said, pointing a finger at the one on the right, ìare henceforth called ibb. YouîóI pointed to the otheró ìare called obb.î I pointed at them again in case they had missed it as neither made any sign of comprehending what Iíd saidóor even hearing it. ìYou are ibb, and you are obb.î I paused. Something didnít sound right about their names but I couldnít place it. ìibb,î I said to myself, then: ìobb. ibb. ibb-obb. Does that sound strange to you?î ìNo capitals,î said obb. ìWe donít get capitalized until we start schoolówe didnít expect a name so soon, either. Can we keep it?î ìItís a gift from me,î I told them. ìI am ibb,î said ibb, as if to make the point. ìAnd I am obb,î said obb. ìAnd Iím Thursday,î I told them, offering my hand. They shook it in turn slowly and without emotion. I could see that this pair werenít going to be a huge bundle of fun. ìAnd thatís Pickwick.î They looked at Pickwick, who plocked quietly, came out from behind the sofa, settled herself on her egg and pretended to go to sleep. ìWell,î I announced, clapping my hands together, ìdoes anyone know how to cook? Iím not very good at it and if you donít want to eat beans on toast for the next year, you had better start to learn. Iím standing in for Mary, and if you donít get in my way, I wonít get in yours. I go to bed late and wake up early. I have a husband who doesnít exist and Iím going to have a baby later this year so I might get a little crankyóand overweight. Any questions?î ìYes,î said the one on the left. ìWhich one of us is obb, did you say?î I unpacked my few things in the small room behind the flight deck. I had sketched a picture of Landen from memory and I placed it on the bedside table, staring at it for a moment. I missed him dreadfully and wondered, for the umpteenth time, whether perhaps I shouldnít be here hiding, but out there, in my own world, trying to get him back. Trouble was, Iíd tried that and made a complete pigís ear of itóif it hadnít have been for Miss Havishamís timely rescue, I would still be locked up in a Goliath vault somewhere. With our child growing within me I had decided that flight was not a cowardís option but a sensible oneóI would stay here until the baby was born. I could then plan my return, and following that, Landenís. I went downstairs and explained to obb the rudiments of cooking, which were as alien to it as having a name. Fortunately I found an old copy of Mrs. Beetonís Complete Housekeeper, which I told obb to study, half-jokingly, as research. Three hours later it had roasted a perfect leg of lamb with all the trimmings. I had discovered one thing about Generics already: dull and uninteresting they may beóbut they learn fast. Excerpted from The Well of Lost Plots by Jasper Fforde All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.</anon> </opt>

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Library Journal Review

A worn-out Thursday Next signs up for the Character Exchange Program and ends up in the Well of Lost Plots. Bad idea: there's a murderer afoot. With a really grand 20-city author tour. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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