Posts from the ‘Adult Literature’ Category

The Story of Arthur Truluv

Friday Feature — Review with Book Discussion Questions!
Friday Features are an irregular occurrence on my blog that include things other than book reviews, something a little extra. This might include author interviews (hint to any authors out there who want to get interviewed), bibliographies, book trailers and program ideas. While I’m not limiting myself to talk about these things just on Fridays, it will be something extra special to finish off the work week.

Story of Arthur Truluv.jpgTitle: The Story of Arthur Truluv
Author: Elizabeth Berg
ISBN: 9781400069903
Pages: 222
Publisher/Date: Random House, an imprint and division of Penguin Random House LLC, c2017.

He is folding up his chair, getting ready to go when he sees a young woman sitting on the ground, her back against a tree. Spiky black hair, pale skin, big eyes. Jeans all ripped like the kids do, T-shirt that looks like it’s on a hanger, the way it hangs on her. The girl ought to have a coat, or at least a sweater, it’s not that warm. She ought to be in school.
He’s seen her here before. She sits various places, never near any particular grave site. She never looks at him. She stares out ahead of herself, picking at her nails. That’s all she does. Fourteen? Fifteen? He tries waving at her today, but when she sees him she puts her hand to her mouth, as though she’s frightened. He thinks she’s ready to run, and so he turns away. (7)

Arthur Moses first encounters Maddy Harris in the graveyard. Maddy goes there to escape the isolation of school, and Arthur goes there every afternoon to sit at the graveside and have lunch with his deceased wife. These two people, so totally different, easily strike up a friendship of kindred spirits. Arthur’s neighbor Lucille also finds herself in a relationship that seems destined to happen, even after years of separation. But life has a funny way of forcing people together, and after life takes unexpected turns for both Lucille and Maddy, Arthur finds himself living up to the nickname Maddy gave him; “Truluv.” Opening up both house and heart, it’s questionable who benefits and is changed the most by this burgeoning friendship.

Reading like a Lifetime or Miyazaki movie, The Story of Arthur Truluv a heartfelt story of people being in the right place at the right time, for the benefit of both themselves and for others. Everyone has some stereotypical traits, but none of the characters are overwrought in description or nature. For instance, Arthur is an old man with old joints, odd digestive ails, a dislike of profanity, and no interest in computers. Regardless of how cliché the idea is, it’s still surprising when at one point Arthur can be seen running an interloper off his property with a baseball bat. But he also is the first to broach the silence between himself and Maddy, even though he has little experience with teenagers and Maddy is sporting a nose piercing that he particularly dislikes. Arthur recognizes her as a lost soul looking for the same solace that he is seeking.

Maddy is most certainly a lost soul. Her mother died years ago, and her father has been absorbed in grief ever since, making little effort to connect with this daughter. She’s ostracized at school, ostensibly because of her dead mother although readers may get the sense there are other reasons. She is looking for love, and it’s a stroke of pure luck that Arthur comes along when he does because she finds herself in a predicament where she needs someone to look after her and her father is less than supportive.

On the flip side of the coin, Lucille, like Arthur, has love to give and is seeking camaraderie to stave off the inevitable loneliness that she sees and feels creepy into her life. Introduced to readers initially as a bossy busybody neighbor who bakes nonstop and wears an ill-fitting wig, she joyfully finds herself being wooed by a long forsaken love-interest. This short-lived opportunity softens her edges and has her seeking a purpose for the rest of her life, which she finds with the help of Arthur and Maddy. Arthur really does become an instigator, a networker, and a healer by the end of the book for both Maddy and Lucille.

I’m considering using this as a future book group title, because of the compact yet reflective narrative. Due to the different ages and stages of the characters, there are many instances of introspection that could spark the same from readers. I’ve included a sampling here, both for my future reference and for anyone else considering this for a book discussion. Warning, some spoilers are contained in the questions. If you are looking for a fast read with heart and a slice-of-life element, this one won’t do you wrong.

  • “Arthur wishes Nola were like spring; he wishes she would come back again and again. They wouldn’t even have to be together; he just wants her presence on Earth. She could be a baby reborn into a family far away from here, he wouldn’t even have to see here, ever. he would just like to know that she’d been put back where she belongs.” (6)
    Is Arthur selfish to want Nola back?
    Are there any instances in the book where characters are where they need to be instead of where they belong?
  • “A promise is a promise, even if it’s only one you made to yourself.” (12)
    Which is easier to keep, a promise made to yourself or made to others?
  • Do you think that Maddy’s right in her assertion that people are “entertained by cruelty?” (14) What else could they be entertained by?
  • How would you describe Maddy’s relationship with Anderson. Did it turn out as you expected?
  • There’s a fascination with age and death in the story. Maddy and Arthur meet in a graveyard, there’s repeated mentions of living to 100, and concepts of death, birth, and the after-life are nonchalantly conversed about by every character. Is your personality and outlook on life and death dependent on where you are in your life? How have the personal tragedies of the characters shaped their view of life, death, and the afterlife?
  • Arthur says “I suppose we might be old-fashioned, but I don’t think love is.” Do you agree or disagree? Has love changed over the years, and if so how? (100)
  • Lucille argues with Arthur that “no one even sees you when you get old except for people who knew you when you were young.” (114) Would Maddy agree with this statement? Who sees you when you are young?
  • Lucille asserts that Arthur and herself are useless now because they don’t do anything. Arthur’s rebuttal is quoted here. What do the rest of the characters do? Do you agree with his assessment? Have we turned into a world of consumers/readers instead of doers?

“Let me ask you something,” he says, finally. […]
“Did you ever hear anyone day they wanted to be a writer?” […]
Everybody wants to be a writer,” Arthur says. […]
“But what we need are readers. Right? Where would writers be without readers? Who are they going to write for? And actors, what are they without an audience? Actors, painters, dancers, comedians, even just ordinary people doing ordinary things, what are they without an audience of some sort?
“See, that’s what I do. I am the audience. I am the witness. I am the great appreciator, that’s what I do. […] I don’t feel useless. I feel lucky.” (128)

  • “Everybody makes mistakes, sometimes even before we get up in the morning. We can’t help but make mistakes. The important thing is to keep trying. And to apologize when you need to.” (178) What mistakes are made in the course of the story? Did any of them require apologies?
  • Maddy writes in a card “What is it that makes a family? Certainly no document does, no legal pronouncement or accident of birth. No, real families come from choices we make about who we want to be bound to, and the ties to such families live in our hearts.” (200) Were the character’s first attempts at families failures? Can you have more than one family?
  • Did the book end how you thought it would? Why or why not?

The Wicked and the Divine

Wicked and Divine vol 1.jpgWicked and Divine vol 2.jpgSeries: The Wicked and the Divine
Titles: The Faust Act (vol. 1), Fandemonium (vol. 2), Commercial Suicide (vol. 3), Rising Action (vol. 4), Imperial Phase part 1 (vol 5), Imperial Phase part 2 (vol 6)
Creators: Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie
Illustrators: Matthew Wilson (colorist) and Clayton Cowles (letterer) and others (depending on the issue/volume)
ISBNs: 9781632150196 (vol 1), 9781632153272 (vol 2), 9781632156310 (vol 3), 9781632159137 (vol 4), 9781534301856 (vol 5), 9781534304734 (vol 6)
Pages: unpaged
Publisher/Date: Image Comics, Inc., c2014-2018′

Every ninety years twelve gods return as young people. They are loved. They are hated. In two years, they are all dead. It’s happening now. It’s happening again. (back cover)
Just because you’re immortal doesn’t mean yo

u’re going to live forever. (unpaged, vol 1)

Wicked and Divine vol 3.jpg

Wicked and Divine vol 4.jpg

This is a smart, complicated, topsy-turvy comic series is a work in progress, with October’s volume seven  collecting the final installments of the first arc of this monthly publication. Readers are introduced to Laura, a seventeen year old South Londoner who is enamored with the Pantheon, both the idea of it, and the people who make it up. However, starting with an assassination attempt after a concert, readers realize just how dangerous it is for the gods and their followers. Nonbelievers are trying to prove trickery, and gods are trying to prove superiority, both among the public and among themselves. As the body toll rises, the clock is ticking for all of them to prove and discover who they all are, to each other and to themselves.

There are several tantalizing cliff-hangers throughout the collected volumes where grand reveals are dropped out of nowhere and readers are left scratching their heads and trying to process the shift in perspectives. Drawing from both little and well known mythologies, the large cast, changing identities, and table-flip worthy surprises may frustrate readers in the best way. A book about a group of twelve deities called the Pantheon could have gone the easy route of twelve white, Greek-based gods and goddesses, and the research and thought they put into the work is appreciated. However, there are some bread crumbs that fall like rocks, and you don’t recognize their significance until they are mentioned later in the story, leading me to encourage binge reading and rereading to find all the little clues and allusions hidden throughout the story.

Many websites have mentioned the effortless diversity portrayed, with gender (male, female, transgender person), sexuality (bisexual, asexual), and ethnicity (Asian, African American, bi-racial, white) all represented in a variety of options and combinations. There’s also some interesting social issues mixed in, including an abusive relationship where the woman is the overly dominant half, and a goddess who controls her powers through her alcoholism. Sex, nudity, and promiscuity are common among the deities, with most of their “performances” sparking a trance like state compared to the ultimate orgasm or drug trip, so I wouldn’t recommend this series to conservative audiences.

The whole story line provides commentary on celebrity culture, death, and pursuit of power. Most of the characters in the Pantheon are selfish, egotistical, brooding, and border on pathological, with one or two notable exceptions. Altruism doesn’t seem to exist. Whether it’s the power that has corrupted them or their moodiness was a pre-existing condition is hard to determine. In the beginning, they reminded me of a reality television show, with attention-seeking, self-motivated behavior with little impulse control or motivation to develop it. Yes they have different characteristics (as explained in the previous paragraph) but their uniformity in behavior (basically acting superior to everyone else) splits slightly by the second half of the series as loyalties are questioned and divisions form.

Wicked and Divine vol 5.jpg

Wicked and Divine vol 6.jpg

The artwork is stunning, multi-dimensional and engaging, ranging from underground raves to meeting rooms that look like they belong in the movie Tron. The scenes where we see the deities reincarnate are uniform but unique in their own way, adding specific elements to represent each god and goddess. Fire, lasers, and supernatural elements are all brightly rendered. Each character gets their own font when they go “Super Saiyan” to borrow from another series, adding to the artistic uniqueness but also serving a purpose, cluing readers to pay attention before something even happens. With any series, there are one or two times where the story diverges, but all plot points usually, eventually, converge. In the case of the artwork, most of the backstories are told in Commercial Suicide (volume 3), with guest artists stepping in to provide a differential style of artwork to each deity. It’s slightly jarring upon first reading, especially since some of the chapters are exceedingly short and give you little time to acclimate. The final story line of volume 3 featuring Sakhmet was an especially jarring art style from the typical depictions. Each volume also contains bonus content that gives you a glimpse of the creative process, which I think is especially beneficial to budding creators, regardless of their age.

We’ll have to wait for the last installment to see just what happens when the plots finally do coalesce, but it’s a lot to bring together in the “final” volume of this story arc.

How to Stop Time

How to Stop TimeTitle: How to Stop Time
Author: Matt Haig
ISBN: 9780525522874
Pages: 325 pages
Publisher/Date: Viking, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC, c2017.

I am old.
That is the first thing to tell you. The thing you are least likely to believe. If you saw me you would probably think I was about forty, but you would be very wrong.
I am old — old in the way that a tree, or a quahog clam, or a Renaissance painting is old.
To give you an idea: I was born well over four hundred years ago on the third of March 1581, in my parents’ room, on the third floor of a small French chateau that used to be my home. (5)

Estienne Thomas Ambroise Christophe Hazard has lived a long life under many names. Now going by the name Tin Hazard, he has earned a position teaching history at a prestigious school in London. As Tom told the head of the protective Albatross Society, a group that purportedly aids people like him who age slowly and live longer than most, he wants “an ordinary life.” But as a reluctant member of this society billed as safeguarding his existence, there is no such thing as an ordinary life. One of the rules of this society is to never fall in love, which Tom has no trouble with after loosing his first love, wife Rose, and second love, daughter Marion. The main reason he continues to hide from society is so he can continue to search for his daughter, who disappeared after her mother died while he was away trying to prevent their persecution. However, when someone new enters the picture and questions his lonely connection to this world he’s lived in, Tom wonders if he’ll be breaking this rule in order to break free. And if he does, what will happen to the person he’s finally started to care about?

I find myself more focused on the characters then the writing style, which I guess says all you need to know about the narrative. When asked to describe this book, I find myself comparing it Time Traveler’s Wife meets Tuck Everlasting, although I guess it’s more a romantic version of Tuck Everlasting. Which is to say that unexplained longevity and the challenges that come with it are not new to literature. There is definitely a romance afoot from the very first time Tom (along with readers) is introduced to French teacher Camille, as he describes himself as “momentarily mesmerised” by her laugh-lit face. Camille herself however seems to be more an impetus  for Tom to pivot his thinking around. He is resigned to his existence, however melancholy, until he meets Camille, whom we learn very little about but who’s existence forces him to reconsider his secretive brooding apathy. At one point she relates Tom how as a child with seizures “I was scared of life. […] I was always worrying I could die at any minute.” Of her time working in a grand hotel, she says that she “would be speaking to people all the time, all day, checking in, checking out, but there was never anything deep and meaningful to it” and that philosophy so closely mimics Tom’s attempts at blending in with life but for the complete opposite reason. Even though their reasons are the exact opposites — Camille afraid of a short life, Tom afraid of a long life — they face the same demons of loosing love and being afraid of opening themselves up again. (237 – 238) And slowly, eventually, they both come to accept the advice that Tom gets from an older woman finally approaching the end of her life who also suffers from Tom’s condition; “There comes a time when the only way to start living is to tell the truth. To be who you really are, even if it is a dangerous.” (265)

The book time jumps quite a bit though (hence Time Traveler’s Wife), as we see Tom’s “original” life in the late 1500s, some snippets during his employment with Shakespeare, Captain Cook, and Fitzgerald, and finally a more modern day environment. Tom’s desire to stay off the radar is understandable when we see how first his mother and then his love were persecuted by his inability to age. It’s interesting to compare the injustice done to these women (they were accused of bewitching him) and Tom’s damnation through association, rather than Tom facing the public stigma directly. As told by someone Tom later met, “She had cast a charm and killed a man to give her boy eternal life.” (156) As a final cherry on top, the one other person he trusts with his secret, a doctor exploring aging named Dr. Hutchinson, also is on the receiving end of consequences due to Tom’s condition. How does that compare today, when women’s actions are used to justify strange appearance or behavior of another guy? Maybe I’m stretching here, but I can’t deny that my brain made that connection.

Hendrich, the only other person that we actually see for most of the novel who shares Tom’s condition (there are others who pass through), is more of an enigma then Tom. Throughout the course of the novel, we receive very little background information about Hendrich, who seems to be the brains behind this organization that operates under the guise of protecting the afflicted. However, we don’t know any details regarding its establishment, Hendrich’s early life, or his ability to continue to serve as it’s defacto head. Also, Tom and everyone else’s blind acceptance of his authority is never fully explained, except that Hendrich catches Tom at a weak point in his life and seems capable of manipulating people’s emotions. He continues to promise Tom his help in Tom’s search for his missing daughter, but I wonder at what point even someone with such a long life as Tom and Hendrich would finally get tired of waiting. It’s also difficult for others who have this condition to envision anything different then this agreement because they are intentionally left isolated from each other by Hendrich. He seems to pull power from his unlimited knowledge of the others and his own unhindered activities and mystery, much like the Wizard of Oz, and his methods are never elaborated.

A lot of options for discussion direction, possibly particularly with a book group with older participants as they grapple with their own questions of longevity and loneliness. I end this blog with a final quote, almost at the very end of the book.

“Why are you the one scared of time? You’re going to live for ever. […] It’s strange.”
“What’s strange?”
“How much time you spend worrying about the future.”
“Why? It always happens. That’s the thing with the future.”
“Yes, it always happens. But it’s not always terrible.” (323)

Run For It

Run For It.jpgTitle: Run For It: Stories of Slaves Who Fought For Their Freedom
Author/Illustrator: Marcelo D’Salete
Translator: Andrea Rosenberg
ISBN: 9781683960492
Pages: 175 pages
Publisher/Date: Fantagraphics Books, Inc., c2017 (original edition published by Editora Veneta, c2014)

Run For It (Cumbe) tells stories of black resistance to Brazilian slavery (1500s-1800s). Many Africans and their descendants rebelled; both directly, by running away to escape settlements known as mocambos, and indirectly, in the small acts of everyday insurrection on the plantations—which demonstrate the tensions inherent in a society shaped by violence. These stories, some of which are inspired by historical documents, offer an opportunity to reflect on that world. (Introduction, unpaged)

Four short stories, each only about forty pages long, portray similar and stereotypical aspects of slave society. Kalunga begins with a relationship between two slaves, but when one wants to run and the other wants to stay, both their lives are affected by the tragic results. Sumidouro, told through jumps between past and present, is about a protective mother who is determined to avenge the wrong enacted on her child. Cumbe portrays what happens when slaves outright and stage a rebellion. Finally, Malungo is about the love a brother has for his sister and his efforts to keep her safe.

Each of these tales rely heavily on the visuals, and each of the violent endings don’t quite turn out the way you expect. The author’s biography mentions he’s a teacher, and it shows in the bibliography and glossary, which is organized alphabetically instead of order of appearance, making it only slightly more difficult to find what you are looking for since it references only the first occurrence of the terms or images. Since the introduction alludes to inspiration from historical documents, I wish he’d also included references of where and from when those inspirations came from, although considering all of the bibliography titles are in a different language, I doubt I would have been able to consult the original material. The black and white illustrations are dark, possibly reflecting the dark futures of the characters portrayed. A moody tome of yearning, this will find an audience with those searching for well-researched reflection on life and the cost of freedom. Possibly recommend to those involved in the Black Lives Matter movement for a unique spin on themes of vengeance, righteousness, and revolution.

Barking Up the Wrong Tree

Barking Up the Wrong Tree.jpgTitle: Barking Up the Wrong Tree
Series: Bluff Point Romance #2
Author: Jenn McKinlay
ISBN: 9780399584749
Pages: 315 pages
Publisher/Date: Berkley Sensation, published by Berkley, , an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC, 2017.

“Are you flirting with me?” he asked. His voice was a low rumble that resonated somewhere in Carly’s tailbone, making her entire body hum like a tuning fork.
“You started it,” she said.
“I thought you were set on doing the ‘friends’ thing, buddy,” he said.
“I am,” she shrugged. “It’s just kind of a new thing for me. I usually don’t see a man after I’ve slept with him, but I do enjoy flirting with my guy friends and it’s hard to shut off. You’re kind of a new category for me.”
“I like that,” he said.
He was too close. […] She had to get a handle on this thing between them before it spiraled out of control–again. (142)

Carly has moved back into her parents’ house after she lost her job to downsizing. Although they’ll be out of town for the immediate future, her pain of a younger sister will still be living there. Add into the mix the dog and the foul-mouthed talking parrot she inherited from a neighbor, and Carly is less then thrilled. Looking for a distraction at the local bar, she meets James Sinclair, and sparks fly. While James is anxious to continue this relationship, Carly’s policy is one and done, and she is not keen on changing that for anyone, no matter how good the kisses (and other physical acts) make her feel.

I think my favorite part of the book is when Carly and James are placed in a position where they have to explain to James’ family how they met. They alternate coming up with one outlandish scenario after another, from jail to a charity bachelor auction to a strip club. This sort of humor runs throughout the novel, especially when Carly’s new pets interact with the people and James’ disabled dog Hot Wheels. Past relationships with family members complicate things for both James and Carly, but they work it out. James is a sweetheart, a fact that Carly recognizes repeatedly. Carly has more hesitancy in seeing where this heads than James, although her attempts to keep him at arms length are half-hearted at best as they share simmering gazes, flirty banter, seductive physical contact (arms around waists and necks) and sultry kisses through most of the book. There’s never any question that these two will end up together, and it’s only amusement at the lengths Carly will go to prevent it and the persistence James showcases in making it happen that encourage readers to continue to the end. Reoccurring characters from About a Dog, the first book in the series, will show up. The friendly banter is a little frank for my taste at times, but the friends truly care for one another and look out for each other, even if it’s not what the person thinks they want. It’s unnecessary to read them in order, and this one continues the trend of being a light, funny, fast read for fans of flings that turn into love at first sight.

Homesick for Another World

Each month for a previous job, I wrote a maximum 150 word review of a new book that came into the library during the month. I’ve expanded that idea to the blog in a feature I’m calling To the Point Tuesdays. If you want to play along, just post a link in the comments and I’ll add them to the post.
Homesick for Another World.jpgTitle: Homesick for Another World
Author: Ottessa Moshfegh
ISBN: 9780399562884
Pages: 294 pages
Publisher/Date: Penguin Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC, c2017.

A collection of short stories that all emphasize the desperate, the desolate, the depraved, and the depressed nature of people as they question and search for connections in their restricted social spheres. A older man attempts to seduce a much younger neighbor during her separation. Another guy tries to seduce his neighbor’s wife into having an affair. A third guy suspects his dead wife of cheating on him during their last vacation together. A struggling actor runs away from home in search of his big break. Two musicians get locked in a practice room. It’s difficult to describe these characters sufficiently in a short blog post. All of them though seem to be seeking validation from others of their worth and existence. Honestly it was a depressing read, and not one I expected or want to repeat.

Under Her Skin

Under Her Skin.jpgTitle: Under Her Skin
Series: Blank Canvas #1
Author: Adriana Anders
ISBN: 9781492633846
Pages: 344 pages
Publisher/Date: Sourcebooks, Inc. c2017

“Old hag in need of live-in helper to abuse. Nothing kinky.”
Uma read the ad again.
Jesus. Was she really going to do this?
Yes. Yes, she was. She’d come all the way back to Virginia for the hope its free clinic offered, and if this was the only job she could get while she was in town, she should consider herself lucky to have found it. Especially, she thought with a wry smile, since it’s one for which I’m so qualified. (1)

Uma had fled a relationship with a possessive prosecuting attorney, one that has led scars scattered across her body in the form of a multitude of tattoos. Hearing of a clinic that provides free laser surgery to abuse victims, Uma bravely returns to that state of suffering, securing a job as an elderly woman’s live-in aid. Next door lives ex-con Ivan, who takes in strays and strives to avoid his own past with metal work and martial arts. Uma is just as set at not getting involved as Ivan is to learn more about his secretive and reclusive new neighbor. But Uma is right to worry that their paths might collide and cause trouble for both of them.

Long time readers of this blog know that I rarely read adult titles. This year is my attempt to change that and expand my exposure to other genres. So a new romance title it is, even though I rarely if ever read romance. I personally find them predictable, but people could say that about most genres. Murders get solved, bad guys get captured, worlds get saved, and good triumphs over evil. But sometimes you can appreciate a little predictability, and I know that’s one reason I return and reread favorites over and over, so I can find my favorite parts and live through them again. Maybe that’s the draw of romance, is that you see people find love, and who can fault someone for doing that?

Ivan’s character might be a tough ex-con, but he’s learned methods to control his anger, for the most part. His overprotective demeanor towards Uma and the animals makes sense when you learn of his past. Uma’s self-sufficient spirit and continuing dismay over the position she’s found her in is also understandable: she doesn’t want help, doesn’t want pity, and wants to resume her life with as little fanfare and notice as possible. But she suffers, just like any abuse victim would, and her thoughts and struggles to deal with the nightmares, the physical scars, the skittishness around men, her dire financial situation, and more makes for a very sympathetic character.

The loves scenes were steamy. Ivan takes it slow, and you HAVE to give him props, because Uma’s situation is everything but predictable. They are inventive in the beginning, and it was refreshing to see they are both willing and able to adapt to the needs of their partner. Uma is a strong woman underneath all the hesitancy and uncertainty, and Ivan is able to recognize that, coax it out of her, and allows her to receive and take the lead as needed. Towards the end, someone comments to Uma “Now don’t go running over there all pissed off that he’s taking your ability to choose away and all that crap, ’cause he’s not. He’s giving you a choice. Another option.” (336) I think what I liked about this book is that there was no “will they or won’t they.” The attraction is evident from the very first meeting, they are both drawn to each other, and the pull for readers is the journey, and seeing how they get together, not whether or not they do. Obviously with any romance the main couple ends up together, but this one doesn’t have misunderstandings and blow up arguments engineered to keep them apart. The final hurdle between them allows not only the loose ends to be tied up, but for Uma and Ivan to stay in character. Uma wants to ensure that her wishes are heard, respected, and adhered to, something she never got in her previous relationship, while Ivan needs to reassure Uma that he can do that and reassure himself that he’s not going to regress back to the man he used to be. Overall, I think everyone involved, including readers, walk away satisfied.

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