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Tales from the Inner City

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TALES FROM THE INNER CITY is a collection of incredibly original stories, rich with feeling, strangely moving, almost numinous. And when the reader comes to the artwork, it's like walking into an amazing room, and then throwing open a curtain to see a brilliant scene that makes you understand and appreciate everything you've encountered in a deeper way.


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TALES FROM THE INNER CITY is a collection of incredibly original stories, rich with feeling, strangely moving, almost numinous. And when the reader comes to the artwork, it's like walking into an amazing room, and then throwing open a curtain to see a brilliant scene that makes you understand and appreciate everything you've encountered in a deeper way.

30 review for Tales from the Inner City

  1. 5 out of 5

    Whispering Stories

    Book Reviewed by Stacey on www.whisperingstories.com Tales from the Inner City is a strange, yet an eye-opening book about co-existing with animals and what they can teach us about ourselves. It is a book for older children, teenagers, and even adults. With twenty-five stories about animals, mixed in with poems and some gorgeous artwork, this book has something for everyone. Most of the stories are quite dark and yet very intelligently written. Shaun Tan has used his stories about animals to reflec Book Reviewed by Stacey on www.whisperingstories.com Tales from the Inner City is a strange, yet an eye-opening book about co-existing with animals and what they can teach us about ourselves. It is a book for older children, teenagers, and even adults. With twenty-five stories about animals, mixed in with poems and some gorgeous artwork, this book has something for everyone. Most of the stories are quite dark and yet very intelligently written. Shaun Tan has used his stories about animals to reflect the actions, mannerisms, and emotions of us humans. By understanding the essence of the stories you can take a lot of information away about human behaviour and yourself too. It is kind of like a weird self-help book if you look deeper at the stories, or you can just enjoy them and not look for any hidden meanings, the choice is yours. This is a book to be treasured and delve into now and again. It would make a great coffee table book, one to get people talking. It may even help those going through a change in their lives – especially teenagers to understand the world around them.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Marianne

    “Where money gathers, so do pigeons. They flock to great financial centers like so many accountants in smart grey waistcoats and glittering collars, bright-eyed, strutting, nodding, darting purposefully between the fiscal-black heels of merchant bankers, bartering every walking minute for a tidy profit.” Tales from the Inner City is a picture book for adults by award-winning Australian illustrator and author, Shaun Tan. What a wonderful book! Shaun Tan is so talented. There are twenty-five tales, “Where money gathers, so do pigeons. They flock to great financial centers like so many accountants in smart grey waistcoats and glittering collars, bright-eyed, strutting, nodding, darting purposefully between the fiscal-black heels of merchant bankers, bartering every walking minute for a tidy profit.” Tales from the Inner City is a picture book for adults by award-winning Australian illustrator and author, Shaun Tan. What a wonderful book! Shaun Tan is so talented. There are twenty-five tales, the beginning of each denoted by the black silhouette of a creature: perhaps an animal, bird, fish or insect. This is followed by text, sometimes as prose, sometimes as verse. Some stories are very short, others up to thirty-six pages long. Mostly at the end, but sometimes throughout the story, colour illustrations depict some part of the tale. Those illustrations, wow! They are exquisite, evocative, luminous. The stories that accompany them vary: some are very sad; some are delightfully funny; some are sweet; some are portentous; some are insightful; and some perfectly illustrate the human race’s blindness to what is. Most are wise and some are clever, and Tan’s prose is often just as evocative as his art: “How much do I love our family? This much. When nothing turns out to be what we hoped, we still hope it turns out to be something. We are never the ones to say that life is disappointing. We are always too busy doing stuff., even if we have no idea why.” All this elegance on quality glossy paper contained within a superb hardcover binding. The cover story (Moonfish) is likely to be a favourite, both for the story and the illustration, but the frogs, the dog, the owl, the cat, the bears and the butterflies are exceptional among a book full of tales bound to appeal to many readers. What will this brilliant man come up with next? An utterly beautiful book!

  3. 4 out of 5

    T.D. Whittle

    'Your money is meaningless to us,' said the bears. 'You grasp economics with the same clawless paws you use for fumbling justice.' And, once again, the bears showed us. There they were, God help us, the Ledgers of the Earth, written in clouds and glaciers and sediments, tallied in the colours of the sun and the moon as light passed through the millennial sap of every living thing, and we looked upon it all with dread. Ours was not the only fiscal system in the world, it turned out. And worse, our 'Your money is meaningless to us,' said the bears. 'You grasp economics with the same clawless paws you use for fumbling justice.' And, once again, the bears showed us. There they were, God help us, the Ledgers of the Earth, written in clouds and glaciers and sediments, tallied in the colours of the sun and the moon as light passed through the millennial sap of every living thing, and we looked upon it all with dread. Ours was not the only fiscal system in the world, it turned out. And worse, our debt was severe beyond reckoning. And worse than worse, all the capital we had accrued throughout history was a collective figment of the human imagination: every asset, stock and dollar. We owned nothing. The bears asked us to relinquish our hold on all that never belonged to us in the first place. Well, this we simply could not do. So we shot the bears. Never fear, gentle reader, for while we cannot resurrect the bears, the cows will surely avenge their deaths. I have been following Shaun Tan's work for years now, and was exceptionally happy to attend a talk he gave at a Melbourne bookshop around the time The Bird King was published. This one is my favourite of his works so far, though I love quite a few of them, including the aforementioned Bird King. In the Author Notes Tan released about Tales From The Inner City, he opens with this statement: Tales from the Inner City, a sister volume to my anthology Tales from Outer Suburbia (2008), is a collection of 25 illustrated stories about relationships between humans and animals. The basic premise I set for myself was quite simple: think about an animal in a city. Why is it there? How do people react to it? What meaning does it suggest? The first story I wrote concerned crocodiles living across the entire upper floor of a skyscraper, and this triggered a flow of similar daydreams. (See Allen & Unwin Book Publishers link to download Commentary by Shaun Tan.) This type of artistic process fascinates me, which is probably why I love authors such as Murakami, too, who says he writes in the early mornings before he's fully awake because that's when his subconscious is still tossing up interesting ideas (that's my paraphrasing, not what he actually said). Like Murakami, Tan's books are shot through with images that evoke something powerful in us, through pictures and words, yet they are both elusive and ephemeral. We feel constantly that we are on the brink of grasping something important, which we may lose upon wakening. Tan also had this to say in his notes: What I love about speculative fiction is the way it can address commonplace problems in unusual, hypothetical ways. He offers us a series of poetic and thoughtful illustrated vignettes in Tales From The Inner City , with each story spinning off one of his unusual hypotheticals. The results are stunning. Importantly, my animals never really speak, and their animal natures remain inscrutable. They are beings that move in and out of each story as if trying to tell us something about our own successes and failures as a species, the meaning of our dreams, and our true place in the world . . . (See Allen & Unwin Book Publishers link to download Commentary by Shaun Tan.)

  4. 4 out of 5

    Renee Godding

    Beautiful in so many ways... Tales from the Inner City is a short story collection by author and illustration Shaun Tan, who has combined his talents in both these fields to create a book that is as stunning on the inside as it is on the outside. Shaun Tan is known for his (for the lack of a better word) “experimental” work, and this signature style can be found in this collection as well. His stories are surrealist, without falling in the trap of being “ quirky for the sake of it”. On the surfac Beautiful in so many ways... Tales from the Inner City is a short story collection by author and illustration Shaun Tan, who has combined his talents in both these fields to create a book that is as stunning on the inside as it is on the outside. Shaun Tan is known for his (for the lack of a better word) “experimental” work, and this signature style can be found in this collection as well. His stories are surrealist, without falling in the trap of being “ quirky for the sake of it”. On the surface, each one appears to focus on a different animal featured in it. At the same time, each story is a portrayal of a very human experience or emotion, that many of us will be able to relate to. Some of my favorite stories were: “cat”, “dog”, “moonfish”, “tiger”, “bees” and especially “Owl”, which really got under my skin based on my own personal experiences with childhood illness. The beauty of all these stories is in the way the pictures and words combine to form a unique and more intense, reading experience. Well written as they are, the stories by themselves would have probably gotten a 3.5 star rating on average for me. The illustrations are stunning, but would have been a 4 star on their own. It’s the synergy of both of them combined that makes this collection a full and well deserved five-star that I would love to revisit again in the future.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Mathew

    An absolutely fascinating collection of what I can only think of describing as post-modern cautionary tales which, through our relationship with animals, explores man's materialistic obsessions and how we have lost our relationship with animals and the natural world. As with all Tan's work, interpretation is left open and meanings will be rich and varied with some stories' messages clearer than others (perhaps). It is fascinating to think that the blend between extended written narrative and glo An absolutely fascinating collection of what I can only think of describing as post-modern cautionary tales which, through our relationship with animals, explores man's materialistic obsessions and how we have lost our relationship with animals and the natural world. As with all Tan's work, interpretation is left open and meanings will be rich and varied with some stories' messages clearer than others (perhaps). It is fascinating to think that the blend between extended written narrative and glorious paintings throughout all come after Tan's last venture which was The Singing Bones (retellings and explorations of Grimm's fairy tales). In this light, you can begin to see where Tan is going with these stories (wholly his own) and the journey he has taken to get to this point. After a comment on social media about the appropriateness of one of the stories (the word 'shit' crops up in one tale) there is question about whether you could share the book with primary children. I am sure my opinion will differ from others but I will say that Tan's open, ambiguous message about how we are losing touch with the natural world and the creatures in it would be a powerful talking point for children that could affect their perceptions of the world. The openness of the tales means that the reader must make their own conclusions and in doing so, readers would claim a greater ownership over the ideas which Tan is trying to share. That is a very good thing indeed.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Callum McLaughlin

    I love surrealism when it comes to art, but really struggle with it when it comes to prose, which often makes reading Shaun Tan's books a tale of two halves for me. Conceptually, I thought this was excellent; 25 short stories, each one focussed on a different animal, commenting on the beauty, brutality, and complexity that make up man's relationship with nature. Each one is accompanied by at least one stunning double-page illustration. Whilst plot-wise, most of the stories did little for me, I a I love surrealism when it comes to art, but really struggle with it when it comes to prose, which often makes reading Shaun Tan's books a tale of two halves for me. Conceptually, I thought this was excellent; 25 short stories, each one focussed on a different animal, commenting on the beauty, brutality, and complexity that make up man's relationship with nature. Each one is accompanied by at least one stunning double-page illustration. Whilst plot-wise, most of the stories did little for me, I always admired what the author was saying thematically, and I could lose myself in the artwork time and time again. Indeed, looking at Tan's paintings is like stepping inside a dream world; a hypnotically rich and rewarding experience.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca Honeycutt

    Y'all, I am not a crier (at least not about books), but the stunning art in this book brought me to tears TWICE. If you're an animal lover, prepare yourself for the possibility of emotional onslaught with every page-turn reveal.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca

    Everything Shaun Tan does is amazing. This collection of surreal stories about animals in the city is longer, but, like a picture book, does a lot with the visual impact of a page turn, many of which reveal haunting double-page paintings that end each story with a vision that you may or may not have been picturing. Teens and adults will find much to discuss here. I was reminded at different times of stories by Margo Lanagan and Ray Bradbury, and also the visually mysterious book The Mysteries of Everything Shaun Tan does is amazing. This collection of surreal stories about animals in the city is longer, but, like a picture book, does a lot with the visual impact of a page turn, many of which reveal haunting double-page paintings that end each story with a vision that you may or may not have been picturing. Teens and adults will find much to discuss here. I was reminded at different times of stories by Margo Lanagan and Ray Bradbury, and also the visually mysterious book The Mysteries of Harris Burdick, by Chris Van Allsburg. Don't miss Shaun Tan's work if you want to see the best boundary-pushing of the visual storytelling format in books. "And, once again, the bears showed us. There they were, God help us, the Ledgers of the Earth, written in clouds and glaciers and sediments, tallied in the colours of the sun and the moon as light passed through the millennial sap of every living thing, and we looked upon it all with dread. Ours was not the only fiscal system in the world, it turned out. And worse, our debt was severe beyond reckoning. And worse than worse, all the capital we had accrued throughout history was a collective figment of the human imagination: every asset, stock and dollar. We owned nothing. The bears asked us to relinquish our hold on all that never belonged to us in the first place. Well, this we simply could not do. So we shot the bears."

  9. 5 out of 5

    Danielle

    A mesmerizing collection of stories and corresponding artwork from Shaun Tan that is also kind of uncategorizable as some of his work tends to be. Each entry focuses on one species of animal in a world that feels like a futuristic, more bizarre version of our own. Nature still exists, but it's not the nature we know now, and animals are different—more populous or less, stranger, magical, changed, and directly in our day to day lives, perhaps because we've destroyed the places they used to live. A mesmerizing collection of stories and corresponding artwork from Shaun Tan that is also kind of uncategorizable as some of his work tends to be. Each entry focuses on one species of animal in a world that feels like a futuristic, more bizarre version of our own. Nature still exists, but it's not the nature we know now, and animals are different—more populous or less, stranger, magical, changed, and directly in our day to day lives, perhaps because we've destroyed the places they used to live. Some connect, some suddenly appear, some take revenge, some are terribly, hopelessly wronged. There are humans in the stories as well, grappling with what we've done and what we can't take back and how to live. Tan's surreal, beautiful art is always captivating. Some of my favorite selections: dog, horse, rhino, frog, orca, tiger, and more. "The bears asked us to relinquish our hold on all that never belonged to us in the first place." "...I need you as much as you need me. And where could we live if not in the bottomless den of each other's shadow?" "Only now, too late, do we remember quietly the things that bind all brothers and sisters in sediment, each husk and bone much the same carbonate as any other: shark, bear, crocodile, owl, pig, lungfish, moonfish, parrot, pigeon, butterfly, bee, tiger, dog, frog, snail, cat, sheep, horse, yak, orca, eagle, hippopotamus, rhinoceros, fox...at lease we gave them our most beautiful words."

  10. 4 out of 5

    Michelle

    This is a very significant book. It is dark and often difficult to read, especially the shark, pig and fish chapters. But its message about the interconnectedness between humans and animals is incredibly important. Animals have largely not been respected by humans. They have been abused, tortured, imprisoned and murdered throughout recorded history. And yet, humans still consider themselves the enlightened, superior beings. Tan cleverly exposes the truth. He does this through a beautiful blend o This is a very significant book. It is dark and often difficult to read, especially the shark, pig and fish chapters. But its message about the interconnectedness between humans and animals is incredibly important. Animals have largely not been respected by humans. They have been abused, tortured, imprisoned and murdered throughout recorded history. And yet, humans still consider themselves the enlightened, superior beings. Tan cleverly exposes the truth. He does this through a beautiful blend of prose and poetry- economical and powerful. His trademark illustrations are haunting and add to the poignancy of the text. Of all the chapters I found the pigeon one the most hopeful and that is primarily because it poses the theory that if humans disappeared, nature and animals in particular would prevail. It is not an easy read; however Tan forces us to engage in questions regarding our relationship with the animals we share this world with that need to be addressed and he does so in his inimitable way, with intelligence and grace.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Angie

    I remember reading The Arrival a long time ago and I love the artwork, but this book is even better. Again, Tan's artwork is amazing. He has that painterly style I would kill for where his subject can be a gray, dismal city but his brush strokes and dabs and dots of color that shine through so beautifully! His writing is also unique and fun to read, but with sad undertones as each tale has to do with an animal, and it never seems to go well for said animal, and the human(s) doesn't seem to reali I remember reading The Arrival a long time ago and I love the artwork, but this book is even better. Again, Tan's artwork is amazing. He has that painterly style I would kill for where his subject can be a gray, dismal city but his brush strokes and dabs and dots of color that shine through so beautifully! His writing is also unique and fun to read, but with sad undertones as each tale has to do with an animal, and it never seems to go well for said animal, and the human(s) doesn't seem to realize this until it's too late. So if you're looking for an illustrated book of short stories for ages 12+ I would totally recommend this one.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Mikaela Revell

    Shaun Tan has not let me down.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Ely

    I swear Shaun Tan is a genius. Everything in here was beautiful, but I think my favourites were the fox, bee and butterflies.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Tom Evans

    I now know why Shaun Tan is so critically acclaimed, an incredible collection of stories complemented by outstanding illustrations.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Maxwell Leaning

    Quite dreamlike and surreal. The advanced reader's copy we received at the bookstore had only a handful of stories, however they were unique and intriguing and the illustrations were phenomenal. I look forward to getting a chance to read the full thing.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Michelle

    Another great book by Shaun Tan! This time focusing on the relationship between humans and animals, with amazing artwork to go along with the short stories. Some of my favorites were: Crocodile, Dog, Cat, Bear, Owl, and Rhinoceros.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Kathleen

    I liked the story about man-and-dog, and the one about the yak. My favorite pictures were the orca in the sky, and the one with the snails - I could almost swear I heard the buzzing of the sodium lamp.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Ryan Lindsay

    An absolutely stunning collection of short stories that will make you feel different about yourself after reading. The use of animals as metaphors for bigger elements of modern society seems obvious, but it's done so well here that you won't see half of this coming, but you'll feel it all. An absolutely staggering feat that should be read by every adult and child.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Ardent

    Beautiful, ecstatic, enigmatic, and heart-rending.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Hayley

    Beautiful, profound, heart-breaking. Shaun Tan explores the human relationship with animals from all facets - the warmth we share with a domestic pet to the destruction we've caused for wild species - through his utterly unique and characteristic way of making everything seem pretty while discussing the darkest subjects. I adore how he transcends every literary boundary with his works (while simultaneously being annoyed that they keep getting shelved in the junior section). You're a true gift to Beautiful, profound, heart-breaking. Shaun Tan explores the human relationship with animals from all facets - the warmth we share with a domestic pet to the destruction we've caused for wild species - through his utterly unique and characteristic way of making everything seem pretty while discussing the darkest subjects. I adore how he transcends every literary boundary with his works (while simultaneously being annoyed that they keep getting shelved in the junior section). You're a true gift to the world, Shaun Tan. <3

  21. 5 out of 5

    Anna Jeffries

    This is a really beautiful book between its words and its illustrations. Sweet and surreal and strange and weirdly lovely.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Rossdavidh

    The first book by Shaun Tan that I read, was "The Arrival", which was pictures without words (although it did have a great story, beautifully told). This book, is roughly equal parts pictures and words, each short story a pairing of the two. The Table of Contents is a two-page spread of silhouettes, each one a different animal species, and they are arranged on the page in no particular order. Yet, if I find myself wanting to reread, say, the one where the boardmembers of the corporation are turn The first book by Shaun Tan that I read, was "The Arrival", which was pictures without words (although it did have a great story, beautifully told). This book, is roughly equal parts pictures and words, each short story a pairing of the two. The Table of Contents is a two-page spread of silhouettes, each one a different animal species, and they are arranged on the page in no particular order. Yet, if I find myself wanting to reread, say, the one where the boardmembers of the corporation are turned into frogs, it is elegantly easy to find the frog silhouette, and see inside it the number "129", and turn to it and see the first sentence, "One afternoon the members of the board all turned into frogs." Leave it to Shaun Tan to re-invent how a Table of Contents can work, and do it well. The crocodiles who live on the 87th floor, the giant yak that the factory workers ride home from work, the owls that sit at your bedside in the hospital and stare at you until you are well again, the giant snails that scandalized a city by having sexual intercourse in public, they are all there, each with their own story, and each with their own picture. The wonder of it is that the pictures are complete in themselves, quietly satisfying to look at and wonder about even if there were no story given to us, and so are the texts. Even with no picture, they would be graceful and moving. That they each work separately, and then work together as well, is an amazing feat. Few people can write well, and few people can paint well, and somehow Shaun Tan has become a master at both. While reading it the first time, I could not help but share a few of them with my wife and daughter, reading them aloud and then holding up the picture to look at. Once done, I put it by my bedside and re-read, and re-gazed at, one of them every night for some time.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Danielle Clode

    "It is hard to think of a more distinctive and idiosyncratic author than Western Australian Shaun Tan. Winner of the prestigious Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award for children’s literature, Tan’s work has also been recognised by numerous awards in speculative fiction, illustration, and children’s books, including an Academy Award in 2011 (for the animated short adaptation of The Lost Thing). By sheer force of imagination and talent, Tan seems to have carved out a unique niche for himself, one that "It is hard to think of a more distinctive and idiosyncratic author than Western Australian Shaun Tan. Winner of the prestigious Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award for children’s literature, Tan’s work has also been recognised by numerous awards in speculative fiction, illustration, and children’s books, including an Academy Award in 2011 (for the animated short adaptation of The Lost Thing). By sheer force of imagination and talent, Tan seems to have carved out a unique niche for himself, one that hovers between the worlds of images and words, children and adults, extravagant fantasy and the most visceral realism. In his latest book, Tales from the Inner City, Tan brings his focus to the fissure between the natural and human worlds.... Like all of Tan’s books, Tales from the Inner City deals with alienation, loneliness, belonging, and love. This book creates a longing for connection – arms outstretched to a transient cloud of butterflies; commuters lost within the soft, nostalgic fur of a giant yak; grief and joy for the nameless, yet multi-named Greatest Cat in the World. The cat illustration is a story in itself: a mother and child cling to each other on top of a giant cat’s head, swimming through a tumultuous ocean, with no safe harbour or rescue in sight. The waves seem insurmountable, and yet the tiny humans feel safe aboard their assured feline host. The image is suffused with hope for an increasingly hopeless world, perhaps reflecting our need to work together if we are not to be crushed by unforgiving nature." You can read this review in full in the Australian Book Review https://www.australianbookreview.com....

  24. 4 out of 5

    AL

    This book captures my favourite feeling in books: that particular combination of poetic flow/fantastical imagery/poignant message that makes you feel part of something much, much larger than yourself, something older than time and beyond infinity. It's a book that, for just a minute, makes you forget science and reason in favour of beauty and truth. It reminds me of American Gods, a bit. Also there are like 10 (beautifully) illustrated pages in a row with dogs so that's an instant 5/5 from me.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Claudia Piña

    Qué libro tan hermoso. Shaun Taun siempre logra transmitir una enorme cantidad de cosas con las imágenes que presenta, sin importar el medio o estilo que utilice. El texto que las acompaña es generalmente breve pero funciona perfectamente. En este libro Shaun Tan nos habla de la relación que tenemos con los animales actualmente. Animales de todo tipo, pero en especial los domésticos y ferales que se encuentran en las ciudades, o los animales de granja y similares. Todo el libro es genial pero la Qué libro tan hermoso. Shaun Taun siempre logra transmitir una enorme cantidad de cosas con las imágenes que presenta, sin importar el medio o estilo que utilice. El texto que las acompaña es generalmente breve pero funciona perfectamente. En este libro Shaun Tan nos habla de la relación que tenemos con los animales actualmente. Animales de todo tipo, pero en especial los domésticos y ferales que se encuentran en las ciudades, o los animales de granja y similares. Todo el libro es genial pero la parte acerca de los perritos me conmovió aún más que el resto.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Westerville

    Don't miss Shaun Tan's work if you want to see the best boundary-pushing of the visual storytelling format in books. - Becky O, Collection Development Reserve a library copy.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Laura B

    I would give the stories/poems in the book a 3 star rating, but gave the book a 4 because the artwork deserves a 5. I think my favorite was the one about all the participants in a business meeting turning into frogs.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Ron

    If you are a fan of Shaun Tan, then you'll be pleased with this collection. It is a set of stories and drawings around various animals. Shaun takes a different view of things (for example, fish on the cover is actually in the sky) and then tells a story around this different viewpoint.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Jeroen Decuyper

    Een boek om te lezen en herlezen. Met een uitgesproken voorkeur voor de verhalen over de Maanvis, het Nijlpaard en de Duiven. Prettige kennismaking met Shaun Tan!

  30. 5 out of 5

    Edward Sullivan

    Fascinating, richly layered surrealism.

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