The Literature Thread

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Beau
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Re: The Literature Thread

Post by Beau » Mon Feb 13, 2017 6:52 pm

Shieldmaiden wrote:Wow, nice catch! And I read that whole novel without noticing the squirrels. :-/
So the evocation is really subdued.
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Re: The Literature Thread

Post by Shieldmaiden » Mon Feb 13, 2017 7:30 pm

Haha! Or, I'm unobservant. Sometimes it takes crazy sound and absurdity to get my attention. :P
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Re: The Literature Thread

Post by Macrology » Mon Feb 13, 2017 9:28 pm

It happens regularly, but Nabokov never draws particular attention to it. Worth noting that I also only learned this after the fact. Someone pointed it out in some article or blog post I read about it.
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Re: The Literature Thread

Post by Shieldmaiden » Tue Feb 14, 2017 2:21 am

Ah. I feel a little better, then. Here I was thinking you knew Russian, too!
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Re: The Literature Thread

Post by ribbon » Thu Mar 02, 2017 4:26 pm

My boss lent me the Griffin & Sabine trilogy. Should I be excited or is this homework?
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Re: The Literature Thread

Post by MuntyJay » Fri Mar 17, 2017 1:56 pm

i am a real bookworm, currently I am finishing The Devil in the White city, very interesting book about the 1st serial killer
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Re: The Literature Thread

Post by undinum » Fri Mar 17, 2017 11:59 pm

It took 100,000 years for a human being to murder more than two human beings? Maybe we aren't so bad after all!
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Re: The Literature Thread

Post by Joss Whedon » Sat Mar 18, 2017 3:55 am

Is Proust worth reading? I might buy vol. 1 of In Search of Lost Time
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Re: The Literature Thread

Post by Stu » Sun Mar 19, 2017 7:34 am

MuntyJay wrote:i am a real bookworm, currently I am finishing The Devil in the White city, very interesting book about the 1st serial killer
I've read that one, and while I was disappointed that Larson wrote so much more about the Fair than he did Holmes (what's the point of connecting the two if at least 2/3rds of the book is about only one?), his writing and the basic historical facts were more than compelling enough to make me not regret reading it.
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Re: The Literature Thread

Post by Shieldmaiden » Tue Mar 21, 2017 12:11 am

Finally digging down into Chekhov's short stories. Don't know why I haven't done it before. So great! The novellas are next.

Here's a little taste from "Ward No. 6," which is amazing x amazing:
Sometimes in the evening he wraps himself in his robe and, trembling all over, teeth chattering, begins pacing rapidly from corner to corner and between the bed. It looks as if he has a very high fever. From the way he suddenly stops and gazes at his comrades, it is clear that he wants to say something very important, but, evidently realizing that he would not be listened to or understood, he shakes his head impatiently and goes on pacing. But soon the wish to speak overcomes all other considerations, and he gives himself free rein and speaks ardently and passionately. His talk is disorderly, feverish, like raving, impulsive, and not always comprehensible, yet in it, in his words and in his voice one can hear something extremely good. When he speaks, you recognize both the madman and the human being in him. It is hard to convey his insane speech on paper. He speaks of human meanness, of the violence that tramples on truth, of the beautiful life which will be on earth in time, of the grilles on the windows, which remind him every moment of the obtuseness and cruelty of the oppressors. The result is a disorderly, incoherent potpourri of old but still unfinished songs.
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Re: The Literature Thread

Post by Colonel Kurz » Tue Mar 21, 2017 11:01 am

That one made the most impression on me, if I recall correctly.

I should get back into the Russians.
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Re: The Literature Thread

Post by Shieldmaiden » Tue Mar 28, 2017 10:26 pm

Yeah, he's amazing, and that one stood out. Also A Boring Story and In the Ravine.

Oh, and look what else I found: 201 Stories by Chekhov online. That will fill in some of the blanks left by the books I have access to.
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Re: The Literature Thread

Post by Oxnard Montalvo » Sun Apr 09, 2017 6:40 pm

Hey all, I have a really broad, broad question to ask of you all: what are some books about movies that are worth reading? And they can be anything, biographies, memoirs, history books, analysis, etc. I shouldn't be too picky.

I recently read and enjoyed J. Hoberman's The Dream Life and Army of Phantoms which looked at how certain movies of the Sixties and Cold War mirrored the social/political climate (intentionally or otherwise) so maybe something up that alley. Thanks in advance!
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Re: The Literature Thread

Post by Beau » Sun Apr 09, 2017 7:26 pm

I'd say The Devil Finds Work, Oxnard. One of the best books I've ever read.
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Re: The Literature Thread

Post by Oxnard Montalvo » Sun Apr 09, 2017 8:21 pm

Beau wrote:I'd say The Devil Finds Work, Oxnard. One of the best books I've ever read.
That's good to know, 'cause I've already read it! I have it in one of my Library of America essay collections which also has Baldwin's reviews of Preminger's Carmen Jones and Porgy & Bess (and maybe some other movie stuff too, I haven't read the whole collection yet).

But I'd definitely be up for more stuff like that, Baldwin or otherwise.
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Re: The Literature Thread

Post by Beau » Sun Apr 09, 2017 8:49 pm

Oxnard Montalvo wrote:
That's good to know, 'cause I've already read it! I have it in one of my Library of America essay collections which also has Baldwin's reviews of Preminger's Carmen Jones and Porgy & Bess (and maybe some other movie stuff too, I haven't read the whole collection yet).

But I'd definitely be up for more stuff like that, Baldwin or otherwise.
Most of the other examples I can think of are more slanted towards theory and don't quite occupy that same cinema-in-its-social-and-historical-context sweet spot. I do want to read bell hooks' stuff, and I suspect it'd fit the bill, but I haven't dived into it yet.
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Re: The Literature Thread

Post by Beau » Sun Apr 09, 2017 8:56 pm

Andrei Tarkovsky and Raúl Ruiz have fantastic self-authored books on their creative methods.

In Argentina, the work of Nicolás Prividera is really worthwhile, but good luck finding it in English. Ditto stuff by David Oubiña, whose Philosophical Toy Store is one hell of a great read.

And, for more film critic-y stuff, you can't go wrong with Adrian Martin.
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Re: The Literature Thread

Post by Oxnard Montalvo » Fri Apr 14, 2017 3:51 am

Many thanks!
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Re: The Literature Thread

Post by Colonel Kurz » Wed Apr 19, 2017 9:38 am

Shieldmaiden wrote:]Have you read Tell Me How Long the Train's Been Gone? You should!
It arrives on friday.
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Re: The Literature Thread

Post by Popcorn Reviews » Wed Apr 19, 2017 7:18 pm

I finished reading Ubik quite some time ago. I really enjoyed it. Even though it starts off a little slow, it gets really good when it picks up. It's definitely a suspenseful novel. I was engaged with it quite a bit, and I could not put it down. Also, the ending contains several neat twists, especially the shocking one at the last chapter. I recommend it to all sci-fi fans.

Right now, I'm reading On the Road. I'm enjoying it so far.
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Re: The Literature Thread

Post by Macrology » Wed Apr 19, 2017 9:07 pm

During my trip to Asia I took two big books along, and one of them was The Good Soldier Švejk by Jaroslav Hašek, a Czech novel satirizing WWI and the military establishment. Hašek died before he could finish it, so it's technically incomplete, but it doesn't have a traditional novel structure. It's more of a picaresque, following the comic misadventures of the eponymous Švejk, a bumbling and gregarious everyman who has a story for every situation and frequently embarks on conversational tangents that last for pages and meander so wildly you forget where they started.

The book is genuinely hilarious (it had me laughing regularly, and inspired Heller to write Catch 22), and one of its great feats is the character of Švejk, who is either an idiot or a very clever man using idiocy as a disguise in order to deflect responsibility toward a cause he feels no allegiance to. Hašek never lets you know for sure, and puzzling over which is more plausible is one of the pleasures of reading the book.

Hašek lambastes military bureaucracy, organized religion, and a host of other targets, and at times the book feels like a Kafka story with a protagonist who has adapted to the world's bureaucratic labyrinths by simply not caring about them. And while Švejk never reaches the front lines, when the battlefield is mentioned in the narrative, Hašek describes the effects of war with a darkly casual brutality. Švejk talks about dead soldiers getting their eyes eaten by crows as if he were talking about what he had for lunch the day before.

The other book I brought along was a collection of writings by Lafcadio Hearn, which I'll post about in my Louisiana thread!
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Re: The Literature Thread

Post by Eminence Grise » Thu Apr 20, 2017 3:19 am

Oxnard Montalvo wrote:Hey all, I have a really broad, broad question to ask of you all: what are some books about movies that are worth reading? And they can be anything, biographies, memoirs, history books, analysis, etc. I shouldn't be too picky.

I recently read and enjoyed J. Hoberman's The Dream Life and Army of Phantoms which looked at how certain movies of the Sixties and Cold War mirrored the social/political climate (intentionally or otherwise) so maybe something up that alley. Thanks in advance!
Notes on the Cinematographer, Film as Film, The World Viewed: Reflections on the Ontology of Film
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Re: The Literature Thread

Post by Macrology » Thu Apr 20, 2017 5:56 am

I second Notes on the Cinematographer. I also think Andre Bazin's essays (esp those collected in what is cinema?) are quite good, but very accessible.
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Re: The Literature Thread

Post by Oxnard Montalvo » Thu Apr 20, 2017 6:52 am

Macrology wrote:I second Notes on the Cinematographer. I also think Andre Bazin's essays (esp those collected in what is cinema?) are quite good, but very accessible.
That's okay, I don't have a problem with accessible.
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Re: The Literature Thread

Post by Shieldmaiden » Fri Apr 21, 2017 12:36 am

Colonel Kurz wrote:It arrives on friday.
Hooray! I don't think I've ever successfully talked anyone into reading that one. The part about the character's childhood is so beautiful and heartbreaking. The rest is remarkable, too. This is the book that made me love him!
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Re: The Literature Thread

Post by JediMoonShyne » Sun Apr 23, 2017 12:54 pm

New favourite Chekhov edition:

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Re: The Literature Thread

Post by Colonel Kurz » Mon Apr 24, 2017 10:56 am

Shieldmaiden wrote:Hooray! I don't think I've ever successfully talked anyone into reading that one. The part about the character's childhood is so beautiful and heartbreaking. The rest is remarkable, too. This is the book that made me love him!
I'm trying to read some more Baldwin before that new doc comes out here mid May.
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Re: The Literature Thread

Post by charulata » Sat Apr 29, 2017 2:45 am

beau, have you read the seven madmen or anything by roberto arlt? him and joseph roth have been my big discoveries this year i think..
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Re: The Literature Thread

Post by Beau » Sat Apr 29, 2017 3:38 am

charulata wrote:beau, have you read the seven madmen or anything by roberto arlt? him and joseph roth have been my big discoveries this year i think..
Not yet, but he's probably one of the big three Argentine authors, along with Borges and Cortazar. I've been putting him off, though.
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Re: The Literature Thread

Post by Shieldmaiden » Sat Apr 29, 2017 6:01 am

Beau wrote:I'd say The Devil Finds Work, Oxnard. One of the best books I've ever read.
I've actually been re-reading this, and now I want to (re)watch all the movies. So good!
Colonel Kurz wrote:I'm trying to read some more Baldwin before that new doc comes out here mid May.
Let me know what you think? (of the book, I mean, but the movie, too!)
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Re: The Literature Thread

Post by Colonel Kurz » Sat Apr 29, 2017 11:26 am

Will do. I ordered and got The Devil Finds Work alongside with it, not sure which one I'll start after finishing If Beale Street Could Talk. Which I find a confusing title since it takes place in New York and Beale Street is in Memphis...
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Re: The Literature Thread

Post by Shieldmaiden » Sat Apr 29, 2017 5:49 pm

Colonel Kurz wrote:If Beale Street Could Talk. Which I find a confusing title since it takes place in New York and Beale Street is in Memphis...
Oh, I've never read that one. How is it??
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Re: The Literature Thread

Post by Colonel Kurz » Sat Apr 29, 2017 10:51 pm

Real good so far!
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Re: The Literature Thread

Post by Colonel Kurz » Sun Apr 30, 2017 8:02 am

Scratch that. The word is, devastating.
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Re: The Literature Thread

Post by Shieldmaiden » Sun Apr 30, 2017 4:35 pm

Aw. :(

Getting it from the library.
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Re: The Literature Thread

Post by Macrology » Sat May 13, 2017 5:15 am

The Ten Thousand Things | Maria Dermoût | 1958 | 208 pages

Yet another NYRB gem, this time a Dutch woman's borderline magical realist depiction of life in the Dutch East Indies in the early 1900s. I say "borderline magical realist" because nothing explicitly magical happens in the book, but the superstitions and rituals of the island are deeply entrenched in the characters' lives; they abide by these traditions, opposing them or ignoring them has dire consequences, and prophecies always seem to come true. It is the story of an island, and a place on that island called The Small Garden, and the matriarch who reigns over it, who is replaced by her granddaughter, Felicia, who comes to resemble her grandmother.

The book is unassuming at first, with plain prose and little narrative momentum, but a subtle grace slowly infiltrates it. Dermoût achieves this effect through a deft use of repetition; she refers again and again to the grandmother's talismans (the snakestone, the white pebble, the plate that protects against poison), to the landmarks in the Small Garden (the Leviathan's shell, the three graves, the ruins of the old house), until the reader is indoctrinated into the mythology of the island just like Felicia is. She builds a distinct and vivid sense of place, and the changeless setting feels more prominent than the story, which has a soft, cyclical cadence to it.

The structure of the book is subtle, almost sly in its construction: starting with a segment about Felicia's life in the Small Garden (based loosely on Dermoût's own experiences growing up in the Dutch East Indies), the middle of the book suddenly shifts perspectives, telling four unrelated short stories about characters we have not yet encountered. Only at the end, when we return to the Small Garden, do we come to understand the tenuous yet profound connection between the stories -- and their connection to Felicia. After you finish, you realize every detail in the book is part of an intricate network.

Dermoût's prose isn't showy, but it has the simple elegance of handcrafted things, like a chair that's both beautiful and purposeful. As such, it's hard to select a quotable passage -- few passages stand out from the rest, and those that do lose their power when extracted from the story. But here's a random passage to serve as a sample.
These warriors are beautiful, the doctor says (he has it from a book), in their ritual trappings, naked, with a belt of milk-white tree bark around their loins, their hair bound high over a coco shell or a piece of wood, with feathers from a bird of paradise, and on top of it all a crown of white shells -- gleaming white porcelana shells, as big as eggshells. And a string of them around the neck, some large yellow rings through the ears, green plumes made of leaves on arms and legs.
(Maiden, I suspect this one is right up your alley.)
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Re: The Literature Thread

Post by Shieldmaiden » Tue May 16, 2017 6:55 am

Macrology wrote:(Maiden, I suspect this one is right up your alley.)
Noted. This one's going to be a little harder for me to track down, but I will!
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Re: The Literature Thread

Post by charulata » Wed Jul 05, 2017 11:37 pm

I haven't read any kate chopin but want to. Hoping one of you can give me pointers on where to start... Maiden, keep meaning to ask you about her..
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Re: The Literature Thread

Post by Macrology » Fri Aug 04, 2017 6:28 am

The Letter Killers Club | Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky | 1928 (published 1993) | 112 pages

I may just start reading NYRB publications exclusively. What more do you need?

This one is by a Ukrainian-born Soviet writer of Polish descent, a writer of theater, criticism, and fantastical stories who was hardly published during his lifetime. This one, a novella of sorts, works in the mode of The Decameron and The Canterbury Tales: a collection of short stories framed by a group of people sharing stories. In this case, the group is a weekly gathering of literati with nonsense pseudonyms (Zez, Das, Mov, Rar, etc) who have forsaken the world of letters, where stories are written on a page; they prefer to "conceive" more purely, their thoughts articulated privately to this exclusive group without ever touching ink.

The stories themselves are remarkable: a deconstruction of Hamlet about an actor who meets interpretations of Hamlet, personified; a chilling science fiction story about a mechanism that robs control of people's bodies, caging their brains and turning their bodies into automatons; and a few carnivalesque moral tales in the style of the classic literature mentioned above. But what's really fascinating is how these stories are connected. For one, they are all broad variations on a single theme: the essence (and eventually the breakdown) of communication. An actor struggling to express himself in a role, people who are stripped of bodily function, a priest who is judged by the clothes he wears, a trio of men trying to decide what the mouth was made for: talking, kissing, or eating.

On top of that, the storytellers themselves interject, interrupting the stories to make comments, insisting that the storyteller make revisions or rearrange the elements into a new story, airing grievances by alluding to another one of the storytellers in their narrative. A sinister air pervades the room where they meet (full of empty bookshelves), a discomfiting power dynamic emerges, a vague threat of violence. This outer framework never quite coheres into a story itself, but that's part of its fascination: it remains nebulous, suggestive, as if these people are as immaterial and transient as the fleeting stories they tell.

A quote from Zez, the group's leader, about the origins of his idea:
I took my conceptions, printed them in my mind, illustrated them, clothed them in carefully considered bindings, and stood them neatly on the shelves, conceptions next to conceptions, phantasms next to phantasms -- filling the willing emptiness, whose black wooden boards absorbed everything I gave it. One day, when a man who had come to return a book made to replace it on the shelf, I stopped him: 'No room.'
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Re: The Literature Thread

Post by Colonel Kurz » Fri Aug 04, 2017 8:02 am

Shieldmaiden wrote:I've actually been re-reading this, and now I want to (re)watch all the movies. So good!
I just finished that and the book's great, but it really makes me not want to (re)watch most films mentioned. :P
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Re: The Literature Thread

Post by sign o the times » Sun Sep 03, 2017 5:47 pm

I'm reading a murder mystery by Robert Crais.
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Re: The Literature Thread

Post by Inkdaub » Wed Nov 22, 2017 1:59 pm

Stu wrote:I've read that one, and while I was disappointed that Larson wrote so much more about the Fair than he did Holmes (what's the point of connecting the two if at least 2/3rds of the book is about only one?), his writing and the basic historical facts were more than compelling enough to make me not regret reading it.
I liked this one quite a bit. I went into it expecting Holmes to be the interesting part but ended up liking the Fair sections the most.

I just finished Baldacci's End Game and it wasn't very good. I am close to giving up on Baldacci.

I have now begun Esslemont's Blood and Bone. I am a Malazan addict so this should be satisfying.
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Re: The Literature Thread

Post by Torgo » Wed Nov 22, 2017 2:07 pm

I'm reading Erik Larson's The Devil in the White City. The stories about the World's Fair coming together and Holmes' descent into madness aren't terribly interesting on their own, but I can tell that sparks will fly when the stories converge.
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Re: The Literature Thread

Post by Stu » Thu Nov 23, 2017 3:17 am

Torgo wrote:I'm reading Erik Larson's The Devil in the White City. The stories about the World's Fair coming together and Holmes' descent into madness aren't terribly interesting on their own, but I can tell that sparks will fly when the stories converge.
The Holmes sections of that book felt like a bit of an afterthought to me, compared to the more detailed sections about the Fair, but hopefully, your mileage with it will vary (and be better) than my own.
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Re: The Literature Thread

Post by Stu » Mon Dec 04, 2017 5:32 pm

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Re: The Literature Thread

Post by Rock » Wed Dec 27, 2017 5:19 am

Just started The Silence of the Lambs.
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Re: The Literature Thread

Post by crumbsroom » Wed Dec 27, 2017 5:22 am

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Re: The Literature Thread

Post by Stu » Wed Dec 27, 2017 5:29 pm

Rock wrote:Just started The Silence of the Lambs.
I think I remember seeing you post that the movie is one of your favorites from your YOB (year of birth), right? And, is this your first time reading it? Because if so, while it's been a while (like, 12 years) since I've read it, I remember it being really good, and almost on par with Demme's adaptation of it, even; you're in for a treat!
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Re: The Literature Thread

Post by Rock » Thu Dec 28, 2017 2:58 am

Yeah, first time, and it's pretty damn good so far. I might check out Red Dragon next, although I have a pretty big stockpile of books to get through already.
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