Exclusive

True Blood Premiere Post Mortem: Series Creator Alan Ball Weighs In On The Big Twists!

[Warning: If you have yet to watch Sunday's season premiere of True Blood, run — don’t walk — to the nearest emergency exit. Everyone else, onward and downward….]

True Blood kicked off its fourth season Sunday with literally and figuratively its biggest twist to date: Sookie returned from her brief detour to Fairlyland to discover that, according to Bon Temps’ calendar, a year had passed since she left.

On any other show, such a time jump would hardly be viewed as earth-shattering. But on True Blood — where the first three seasons encompassed only a few weeks — it represented a pretty radical game-shifter.

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“We wanted to get all of our characters into somewhat of a new place,” series creator Alan Ball explains of the bold move. “To give Jason time to have actually become a sheriff’s deputy. To have Bill be the king. To have Arlene’s baby be born. And then as we were talking about Sookie being in Fairlyand, the idea rose that time just happens differently there. And it seemed like a really organic way to kickstart the show so that it would be in a new place when she got back.”

Arguably the most seismic development during Sookie’s year away concerned her beleaguered BFF Tara relocating to New Orleans and falling for a woman. That’s right, Merlotte’s prickliest waitress is now a cage fighter with a steady girlfriend!

As Ball sees it, the shift in Tara’s personal life actually wasn’t all that radical. “Look at Tara’s history with men — if anybody has a reason to try something new, I think she does,” the boss says with a laugh. “It didn’t seem like it was that outlandish given her history and who the character was.”

Felicity Grad Joins True Blood as [Spoiler Alert]!

Tara’s portrayer, Rutina Wesley, “was totally willing to go there” with her character’s transformation, says Ball. “I said, ‘How would you feel about this?’ And she said, ‘Oh, that would be fun.’

“I count my blessings with this cast all of the time because everybody is pretty fearless,” he continues. “Everybody is pretty game to do just about anything. I think it made sense emotionally for Tara, given everything she had been through with Eggs and Franklin Mott. And part of what we wanted to do with her this season is really stop her from being a victim and really have her take control and reinvent herself in a way that was less victim-y, and [giving her a female lover] seemed to fit in with that whole paradigm.”

What did you think of the premiere? Were you a fan of the time jump? Did you buy Tara’s sexual awakening? Hit the comments!

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198 Comments
  1. AJ says:

    I can’t say I loved this episode, however I am extremely interested to see where it goes from here.

    I do agree that alot of the characters did need to reinvent themselves and mature.

    Not sure how long I will be able to stand the serial killer baby drama (already liked that storyline on Dexter), and the fairies I could have done without.

  2. samantha says:

    The 2nd episode was even better than the first imo. There was more Sam and a little more Eric. Eric at the end was so cute and poor Jason but lovin his sl so far

  3. gemma says:

    more please :)

  4. Thomas says:

    As a fan of both the books and the show I am excited to see where this is going to go. I’m not sure why everyone is tripping about Tara. Simply put she decided to reinvent herself. It’s like an alter ego for her. Victim Tara to Bad Ass put you in an armbar Tara. I guess we can infer that Bill either married Sophie-Ann or killed her. Not really a stretch, but one that will probably get played out by the middle of the season. The time jump was nice to. I would say it would have been cool that Sam had actually wacked Tommy. Hoyt needs to cook his own food. The Jason transformation is well received. He was left up to own devices and had to grow up real quick. It probably got boring for the writers to keep making him out to be a dumb blonde.

  5. Antonia says:

    FYI: The show is called “TRUE BLOOD” not the “Sookie Stackhouse Southern Vampire Series”. They are not meant to be the same. Their creators don’t want them to be the same. It would be boring if they were the same. THEY ARE NOT COMPARABLE BECAUSE THEY’RE TWO SEPARATE ENTITIES. If you want to read the books, then read the books. I did. I read them all. But True Blood can’t be the books verbatim, if you’re just going to bitch and moan then don’t watch! I agree some charachters are unbearable and they need to stop adding more arcs. Doesn’t spending your time flocking to forums to bash the show you supposedly “hate” but still watch and care about get tiring? Where the hell is the logic in that? And what about the people who DIDN’T read the books?…The haters are ruining it for them by whining about how the series isn’t EXACTLY like the books and spoiling it! The premiere had its’ flaws but I still liked it, Ep. 2 was great…True Blood is getting off to a pretty good start.

    • Mac says:

      If the series is not supposed to be based on the books, then why did he buy the rights and market it as based on the books?

  6. GDM says:

    the first 10-15 minutes were jump the shark territory, but it found itself once the fairyland farce was over. 20 minutes in it was the same old True Blood we all know & love.

    i still hate the Tara character & care nothing for her. the show really should dump her, she’s still not at all interesting & i find myself fast forwarding through her scenes & still not missing anything important to the plot.

    speaking of not interesting things, the witch stuff has to stop. seriously? we’re supposed to like that & find it compelling? yeah, it’s about as compelling as a canker sore. i know this is the “season of the witch” and everything, but so far so bad. i hope it gets better quickly. other wise the Tara crap won’t be the only thing i’m skipping.

  7. samantha says:

    Awe, Why does everyone hate Tara so much? lol yeah sure she got whiny and all but I really do think she’s back to her old self. I love when she’s tough, fights, and is there for Sookie and has scenes with Lafayette. I really could care less if she’s into men or chicks as long as her story is interesting.

  8. samantha says:

    I just wonder though for those who watched the 2nd episode, do you think Eric was going to do something to Tara or just messing with all of them??

  9. JohnDoe says:

    Was I the only one left hoping that while Sookie was away, Russell came back and ate Tara?…

  10. yiorgosk says:

    pure TV delight!

  11. mia says:

    I enjoyed the premiere a lot and, for one, am happy with the storylines, even if they don’t FOLLOW THE BOOK exactly. This is coming from someone who has read every book, even the new one. Some of you are ridiculous. EVERY time a book, or a book series, is adapted for TV or movies, there are changes made. If they kept the storylines the same it would be very boring to watch on television. I watched episode two on HBOGO and it is awesome! It explains how Bill became king (which makes his character more interesting), puts a new twist (loosley from the books) on the hot shot/Jason storyline, and it also starts my personal favorite storyline with Eric and Sookie! Now I have to wait TWO weeks for new material. Maybe it wasn’t such a good idea to watch it early…

    • Darcy says:

      I know!! I watched the 2nd episode too and now I’m bummed I have to wait 2 more weeks for new True Blood!! The 2nd episode was so good and explained so much!! I wonder if all the haters will stop complaining so much after they see that episode!

  12. samantha says:

    I agree with everything you said Mia and I ‘almost’ regret watching the 2nd episode cause now I have to wait a whole 2 weeks :( lol but yeah it was an awesome episode.

  13. yasmine says:

    All i have to say is that i loved it! No complaints :)

  14. Carri says:

    Much better than the hot mess that was season 3. Don’t mind the year jump. AM a fan of the books, fan of the show, don’t really care how AB mixes it up as long as we get some of book four in there. WHich looks pretty close. Bill’s hair is better. Sookie less annoying. Pam still Pam. Eric!! Lala and the witch stuff has promise. fun gothic wacky tv. Love.

  15. Anonymous says:

    “Fairlyand”. Get a copy editor.

  16. I Miss John Locke says:

    I really don’t understand when people trash a show that’s “based” on books because they don’t follow the books exactly. There is a VERY simple solution to this..

    Wait for it…

    READ THE BOOK AGAIN!!

    I didn’t read the books, only got into the show a month ago, and I liked the twist. Even if I had read the book(s), why would I want to watch a show where I know every storyline and twist before the episodes are filmed? What fun is that? Who cares if it’s different than the books. Last time I checked, the show is BASED on the sookie books, it doesn’t say “copied word for word” from the book(s).

    • 4F says:

      I’m a fan of the books, and I agree with you. I think the show has done a good job of respecting the source material and using it as a framework, but not slavishly copying everything exactly. One thing Alan Ball talked about in an interview was the fact that you have to remember that the books are all told from Sookie’s perspective in the first person so the only time other characters even exist is when Sookie is interacting with them. The show obviously could not function that way so by virtue of the POV differences in the mediums (book vs. television)–it’d be pretty much impossible to have the two be mirror images of one another.

  17. 4F says:

    Loved it! While I agree the fairy stuff in the beginning came off as somewhat cheesy, it didn’t bother me so much. I feel like Ball has a better grip on telling the story of such a sprawling cast this time around. I really thought the episode was excellent. I particularly liked the crosscutting between Eric doing his public relations video and Bill cutting the ribbon in front of the senior center.

  18. navy689 says:

    As always the comments are interesting. I haven’t read the books and don’t plan too. I liked last night’s episode and agree that the series could drop the Tara character and not loose much. The time shifting idea is not new but does move things forward. I would like to see other characters have more screen time as many are interesting in their own right. I’m looking forward to the coming season and do wonder where the writers will take us.

  19. samantha says:

    I agree. If everything was exactly like the book it would be a BORE. However I would LOVE if they did Eric/Sookie. I for one am sick of the love of Beel n Sookeh enough AB enough it will never end I’m sure lmao

    • Chris says:

      In the books eric/sookie end up married. I can’t see how they reach that point in the TV series now.

      • Bubu says:

        I think they will, i mean Hunter is in book 8 and they already introduced him. AB already used book 5-6 plot, so they will skipped these books, they will probably left the whole vendetta vs Eric and Sookie in Book 5 but not with Mickey but with Russell…you know a lover for a lover..Talbot for Sookie. Alan Ball LOVED book 7 and the hotel explotion and it’s the book where S/E bonded so yeah,,i thnk he will use thye last books…the whole fairies.not.so.good are from book 11 actually…like the red ribbons Eric left at Sookie’s…

  20. Sarah says:

    I think the time jump was necessary. Seriously the 1st 3 seasons happened over the course of like 2 months!! They needed something to pass some time and show the characters in different places. Otherwise it was just getting to be so much stuff happening all at once. I like seeing how the characters have grown and changed over the year that Sookie was gone. I actually found Tara refreshing for once. She has driven me crazy since Season 1 with her attitude and general hatred of everything. To see her on her own, happy, and in a plce where she seemed happy made me actually start to like her character.

  21. Nicole says:

    I think some of the hate for the deviation from the books is due to not wanting AB to cheat the viewers out of the Eric-Sookie storyline. That’s my main concern; he can do whatever with the other characters as long as the shower scene occurs:)

  22. cemf says:

    I liked it! One of the things I like the most about True Blood is it’s departure from Charlaine Harris’ books. The first 3 books in the series were good, and then they get progressively worse and worse. So changing things up is a good thing in my opinion.
    Here’s some stuff I liked in this episode:
    I think Bill as king is awesome.
    I like Tara taking control of her life.
    Jason in the freezer – poor guy.
    So here’s some stuff I didn’t like all that much:
    Lafayette’s mohawk
    Jessica and Hoyt having relationship problems
    Faerie land
    Det. Bellfleur addicted to V – WTH?

  23. Walrus says:

    A few of my own thoughts:

    On the books vs the show: I’m a fan of both… I’ve read all the novels except the new one (which is on my table waiting for me to finish what I’m currently reading) but I understand that it was never the intention of Alan Ball or Charlaine Harris to faithfully interpret the books. To the contrary, it was stated early on that they were not… it’s ‘inspired by’… therefore I can enjoy the series for what it is. Sure, some of the changes have bothered me… primarily the depiction of Calvin Norris. Also, let’s face it… the books are pretty badly written. They are interesting, so I read them… but Harris isn’t a great writer. The ‘adaptation’ can’t be compared to things like Game of Thrones, which *was* intended to be a faithful adaptation of the books, so much so that George R.R. Martin is one of the producers and wrote some of the episodes.

    On Tara: The debate on whether or not Tara can just ‘become gay’ is a silly one. Why do I say this? I know someone who has done practically the same thing. Bad relationship with a guy ended, she decided to try women on for size. Eventually ended up in another relationship with a man. Does this mean she chose to be gay, then chose to change back? No. It means she tried something other than what wasn’t working. Will everyone have that tendency? No. I don’t see myself trying out men if my relationship with my wife goes bad… but to each their own. Some people don’t define themselves by who they are sexually or romantically attracted to.

  24. amandria says:

    I thought the opening show was great, gripping a real roller coaster ride. I read the first 2 books in the series because I watched the first season of True Blood, but I found I actually like the series alot more than the books, same with Dexter. I love how Layfette is still ALIVE. I love how they changed Jason’s character to be a far more silly, childish but good hearted person, and that he is still ALIVE. So for me keeping true to the story would of been very sad, so those of you whining, tell me you would prefer these story’s with these characters dead?

    • Walrus says:

      Well… Lafayette was such an inconsequential character in the book that if they’d stuck to the original story, we wouldn’t have been very attached to him anyway so we wouldn’t miss him if he were gone. And granted, it’s been a long time since I read the books, but I don’t recall Jason being dead.

  25. distraction says:

    I spent the last few months waiting for True Blood to come back. After watching the season opener, I am still waiting for True Blood to come back. There was none of the edgy, raw drama that I have come to expect from True Blood. No matter where they took the story line, they have always before taken us along for the ride.
    It was much like going to a high school reunion. Everyone has moved on and are no longer a part of my life. Am only mildly curious now as to what the next show will bring and if things don’t change soon will no longer even be mildly curious. Afraid it has become “just another show” for me.

  26. Walrus says:

    As to comments about the decline in quality of the show:

    It’s on Sundays, during the summer… not a lot of competition during it’s time slot (for me, anyway). An hour later… well that would be a different story (The Glades, In Plain Sight). I have to catch Treme on the west coast feed.

  27. alikat says:

    I watched and spent the whole episode trying to understand why I loved it so much. My friend got me hooked on it last year and I watched all three seasons before S4 started. What a disappointment! Before I always thought Stephen Moyer/Bill was a pretty lame character and the acting was bad. But now the bad acting has spread to Anna Paquin/Sookie. Which surprised me since I’ve liked her in other things. But her acting in S4 premier was SO bad it was almost comical. She does this thing with her eyes where she tries to look all innocent then like a lightswitch she’s trying to act tough and badass. Not enough Eric in the episode to make up for Bill/Sookie. We need more Eric, Sam and Lafayette. Tara was always pretty cool too. I’m neutral on the others. But damn, can we kill off Bill and remind Anna how to act so Sookie won’t suck so much?

  28. Sophie says:

    Sucked me in from the start. What a strange brew Ball has concocted! It dares to be provocative and campy at the same time. It has become the guiltiest if pleasures on my DVR.

  29. Jodi says:

    If you haven’t seen episode 2–sit tight. It answers a lot of questions that I thought were unanswered in episode 1. And for the people ragging on the show vs the book—I like that they are different. While I love the books and eagerly sit in anticipation for each new one to come out, what I enjoy about the show is that I can predict some of what is going to happen but not all of it. I, for one, do not want to see a regurgitation of the books.

  30. gari says:

    time for true confessions. sshhhh. don’t tell my accountant. i actually signed up for hbo so i could watch tb. looking at my checking account, it is a luxury that i really can’t afford, but i consider it the best investment i’ve made this year. the fairy scene gave me bad flashbacks to star trek, and i dislike hotshot on tb as much, if not more than i dislike it in the books, but other than that, i really enjoyed it. then, using my newly purchased hbogo i checked out the next episode, and all i can say is “all hail king bill” and “long live the king”!

  31. Tina says:

    I didn’t mind the Tara stuff, but I’m not gonna lie–I really LOVE her and Sam together.

    The new chick that’s supposed to hook up w/Sam & who used to be on Dexter…meh. She can go.

    I hated Jason’s entire storyline last season–the panther girl was/is boring. And, some of the crap he did was ridiculous. However, the first epi seemed like the old Jason. I just don’t like where they are taking his character–if in fact they are staying somewhat true to the books w/him.

    I’m sad about Jessica and Hoyt–they can’t ever seem to catch a stinking break! Give them some happiness together already!!

    Sookie and Eric could be hot, but I’m hoping for some sexy time w/Alcide!! And…Bill. I’m good with them keeping him different from the book–Stephen is HOT!

    Layfayette is my favorite. I hope he has some good stuff in spite of all the crazy crap about to happen to him!

  32. Hollie says:

    I thought the season premiere was awesome. I liked all the storylines, I was not bored with any of the scenes. It was good that they moved up a year, the show seems very fresh. Everybody looks really good, in great shape, nice clothes and makeup. I don’t see a problem with Tara being with a woman for the time being, she is just taking a break from dating men; I don’t see what a big deal is at all. Her girlfriend seems really nice; I am sure we’ll see her with Sam sometime in the future again. And I like Tara’s new haircut. I laughed at Andy Bellefeur’s scenes, he is so funny! I am enjoying the witch storyline a lot. Fiona Shaw is a great actress, she is amazing as Marnie, her character is much more interesting than Russell’s. The other twist that Eric bought Sookie’s house made me happy; I can’t wait to see more between them. Alexander is a great actor, he makes Eric so sexy, confident and alluring. I love the way he speaks. Eric and Sookie have a lot of sexual chemistry between them. With Bill being king now, it will be interesting to watch what his next steps are. Bill seems like he has secret plans and from the previews it looks like he wants to get rid of Eric. Also, I think Bill is just trying to get Sookie jealous so that she goes back to him by letting Sookie see him and Katerina getting dressed in his room. But mostly I watch the show to look at Eric, because he is unbelievably sexy!

  33. Darcy says:

    So both Black characters are now gay….well I’m not liking Tara Thornton being a friggin’ lesbian. I wanted a transformation but not this crap.

    The books may not be the show but he had to know that book readers would “watch the show” The books are best sellers “for a reason” There are many things I don’t like…Just because this is his spin on the books doesn’t “automatically” make the criticism less valid its not the first time that a movie / TV show has been loosely based on a novel and won’t be the last.

    So this is “NOT” the books chant is irritating, its about telling a good story book or no book.

    • Brooke says:

      Completely agree about Tara… interesting point… why are the only 2 black people on the show now gay??

  34. Cyberologist says:

    After Balls rendition of Bk 4 and the Eric amnesia storyline I am well over the Eric/Sookie /Bill triangle; I’ve really had it after 4 seasons and want Eric in lust with someone else let Sookie go to Bill Alcide or whereever just free up Eric and/or Bill …I like Sookie but I find her frustrating to watch at times.

    Can’t wait to see Alcide hopefully Joe shows up by Eppy3.

    Absolutely intensely dislike Crystal Meth w/Jason stuck again in Hotshot but I’ll roll with it and see what’s coming up for him.

    As a Tara/Sam, Tara/Franklin PRE before he just got too crazy and raped her, Tara/Jason fan her now being a lesbian is a complete letdown she has amazing chemistry with men and I don’t find it with this woman thus far. I’m glad she’s lied about who she is and where she went maybe they’ll breakup. Her character “enriches” the canvas for her “fans.”

    Not sure about my fav Sam’s story his relationship w/his awful brother/Luna and the shifters yet too soon to tell.

    Along w/ the politics of Bill / Eric’ amnesia the best stories for me is Layfayette/Jesus and the witches coven; Hoyt/Jessica re: the protesters seems like BabyVamp is getting more aggressive…Adore Pam can’t wait to see what’ coming up for her. Fan of Arlene/Terry and their evil infant storyline.

    Huge Bill/Eric fan its not either or but “both” I think Eppy2 is better than the premiere so it can only get better and better..

  35. Lana says:

    I’m sorry but the whole Bill as King deal has really thrown me. I just could never see Eric having to obey anything Bill has to say. Eric is far older and stronger on top of that he doesn’t like Bill. I was fine with them changing up some of the storyline from the book to give an element of surprise but some of these changes are making absolutely no sense. All I know is if they kill off Eric I’m done.

  36. Christine says:

    I loved the first episode! I think it’s cool that Sookie figured out the plane of the fae, pretty quickly. Too bad Barry is stuck there. I love that Bill is King, loved the flashback in episode two that explains it all too! I suspected from the start that the buyer for Sookie’s house was Eric, and it was a cute twist. Feeling bad for poor Jessica and Hoyt, cuase it just doens’t look like it’s going to work out. Love the Tara switch up. I have so much more respect for her as a lesbian. It just seems to fit the character with the way she is written in the series…not the books, though. I’m loving that they are following he book with Eric’s spell. I can’t wait to see what he does with it..but I will be really disappointed if Sookie doesn’t jump him already for God’s sake!

  37. tracy says:

    I am a dedicated TB/CH book /fan If you listen to interviews w/ AB and CH you would realize that they both enjoy each others work and both r different. To some degree I like and dislike some things about the book and the show but if u r a true fan u r not gonna give up onthem because it didn’t go ur way just watch read and enjoy just like life everything is done for a reason. Thumbs up to all involved in both creations

  38. Linda says:

    I liked the new twist in the show gave it a shot in the arm.I found it strange when Bill ordered Eric to leave and he did… made sense in the end with Bill being king.
    I used to like Tara but got sick of her victim thing and think it might be great to have her stand up…and of course people can have male and female lovers who hasn’t.
    I was getting a little sick of Sookie and Bill she needs a break from him while he learns to be less of a liar, although that could change again but bring on some hot Sookie Eric action.YUM
    I only read the first two books and stopped reading them.I like the TV show better the books seemed to be aimed at a younger Audience than me where the TV show is for any age that likes some thing different and a bit hot…Change the plot producers surprise us…

  39. Anie says:

    I did like it because id like anything truevlood but i have to agree it did not make my top 10.. However i am a huge fan of the books an i still like how the show is different!
    Bill being king and having more power than eric!!! Yayyy thats interesting!!
    Bill needed something that isnt his relationship with sookie!!

    And i love that eric bought sooks house :) and if they stick the minimun to the books…. Well well see them together soon ;)

  40. Wings says:

    TARA…..Lost me here. If Tara has found herself then why is she using a different name and lying to her new love about where she is from? She is still the same old dependent Tara who must have someone in her life to survive. Tara must learn to live with Tara before she could ever love someone truly. Sorry AB storyline has been done to death.

    JASON…Same story as book with small twist. Needs to stay in story for Sookie and for draw for female audience. And Ryan K is a good actor and plays roll of dimwitted Jason well.

    BILL…His true colors are showing more and more. He may be King but not THE KING. He rushes to Sookies as soon as the sun goes down to tell her how empty he has been and he loves her. But when she shows up at his place does he rush{remember he does have vampire speed} to finish his sexual encounter with his spy? Does he meet her downstairs? NO! He let’s Sookie walk in on them getting dressed. Yeah he really loves her and is good for her.

    ERIC… Found out Sookie’s house was for sale, paid more than was ask for it{Eric is a cheapskate so why did he pay more?}, fixed it up, yet did not throw her out when she refused him. He could have forced her but did not. He said he would have something fixed and did immediately. He offered her protection….did Bill?

    SAM…Wtf is going on here? Sam has too much going on to pull off any decent storyline. And that is too bad because he is one of the best characters on TB.

    LALA…Iknow u flaming but MAN UP b_ _ch. I love u and Jesus together but quit letting him pull your strings. You were better when you walked your own walk and made them step your step.

    ARLENE….Honey I am more worried about your genes than Rene’s. Get some counseling PLEASE!!!!!

    TERRY….Just hang in ther bud. You are one of my top 3 favorites. I would give up on the show if any one of the 3 of you were taken off the show. You are probably the most sensible one there. That baby needs you.Hang Tough

    SOOKIE…WAKE UP!!! Are you really still that naive after the last three seasons? Who has been honest with you? Who has done nothing but lie to you? Who gave up on you? Who did not. And who defied his King just to say something else to you(a King to woosy to stand his ground and enforce his order I might add)? And if he was to much of a weakling to force Eric to obey an order how in the world could he have possibly defeated Sophi Anne who was much older and stronger than him? OK you were blindly in love. Remove the blinders and wise up. Give me a reason to root for you this season.

  41. Mac says:

    The books were great…why would you change things so drastically? I kept my HBO just to watch True Blood. I am probably going to drop it now. The show is getting more and more away from the books, so you can’t even recognize it is supposed to be based on the books. The names are the same…..but that is about it.

  42. Maureen says:

    Well, I have to say that overall I am disappointed with the deep changes in the characters that I have come to know and love via the books. That said, book 4 was one of my favourites and I dislike that much of the comedy written in the books is lost in the series. There is a sense of betrayal when characters whom you love are radically changed; it would be like having had the characters from LOTR changed drastically in the movies. Each book was longer, and thus AB had the material to work with, and still maintain character integrity. So much has changed that one has to really wonder how much longer the series can hold up. Just my viewpoint of course, however I still watch out of curiosity despite my disappointment in the radical changes in personality. One example? Sookie and Pam’s relationship grows over time into a friendship… and yet Pam is still as badass as ever. So, there you have it; leave the characters in tact and perhaps I wouldn’t mind the strayings from the books.

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