Winter Booknotes 2021

 

Handpicked new releases, brought to you by the staff of Elliott Bay.

 

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Orwell's Roses Cover Image
$28.00
ISBN: 9780593083369
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Viking - October 19th, 2021

There may be no writer today who can take a surprising premise and not only delve deeply and smartly into it, but then connect other places rooted and linked as Rebecca Solnit does. Here she first takes George Orwell’s engagement with gardening—not usually the first subject prompted by mention of him—and shows its influence in his writing and stance in the world. She also brings in others, writers and artists among them, considers plants and gardens in their spheres, and the ways that roses (especially) are handled as commodities now. The writing is rose-like in its layers; unfolding, beautiful, and occasional, necessary thorns.-Rick


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Crossroads: A Novel Cover Image
$30.00
ISBN: 9780374181178
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Farrar, Straus and Giroux - October 5th, 2021

Fifty years ago, a time now cast as the past, is brought brilliantly to bear in this epic story of a white, Midwestern, suburban family threatening to come apart at the seams—placid appearances to the contrary. Some of us lived through such times and scenarios, which makes what Jonathan Franzen has done here even more palpably real—though that shouldn’t stop those who didn’t. He brings layers of aspiration, intention, longing, and realization to bear through the two married adults and the three college/high-school children in this tempest set mostly within a single winter day. Yes! -Rick


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I Love You but I've Chosen Darkness: A Novel Cover Image
$27.00
ISBN: 9780593330210
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Riverhead Books - October 5th, 2021

For fans of Claire Vaye Watkins, a wildly inventive, ultimately rewarding ride awaits. In this apparent fiction/memoir hybrid, the narrator departs on a book tour, leaving behind her husband and months-old baby. Looming postpartum blues send her fleeing to a family home in the desert, where she careens through a vortex of emotions, self-analysis, and an ever-expanding hodgepodge of memories. Claire’s story pivots from hilarious, charming, familiar, to shockingly honest, raw, and insightful. Abandon any expectations or inhibitions in order to revel in this wholly original novel.-Erica

 


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White on White: A Novel Cover Image
$26.00
ISBN: 9780593330517
Availability: Coming Soon - Available for Pre-Order: Scroll Down to Product Details for Release Date
Published: Riverhead Books - December 7th, 2021

Aysegül Savas writes of people encountering others in cities that are new to them. She did this brilliantly in Walking on the Ceiling, and does so again here to a different end. A student and an older woman both have moved to a city, the student to study, the woman to make art. They meet. What unfolds with the older woman is less the making of art than talking about it, and more the ways that talk can shape and make vivid something that will never be as vivid or real as the talk itself. The lessons for the student become more real than anything academic, the larger schooling being life itself.-Rick


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The Lincoln Highway: A Novel Cover Image
$30.00
ISBN: 9780735222359
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Viking - October 5th, 2021

I loved Towles’ prior novel A Gentleman in Moscow so much, I approached The Lincoln Highway with a mixture of hope and trepidation. The trepidation was entirely unnecessary, as this new venture delights thoroughly; and each of Towles’ novels is so different from the others, it makes comparisons irrelevant. Here we have a narrative romp of two brothers, and a cast of acquaintances, adversaries, and supporters on a road trip of pursuit and discovery. It’s an American tall tale, an odyssey, a picaresque, with characters often larger than life and plot turns occasionally outrageous along the lines of Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?, which is the point and the pleasure: this is fiction. And, in our engagement, we witness and experience courage, decency, loyalty, and perseverance. And are enriched. -Peter


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Love in the Big City Cover Image
By Sang Young Park, Anton Hur (Translator)
$26.00
ISBN: 9780802158789
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Grove Press - November 16th, 2021

Love in the Big City is a vibrantly intimate story shared with wry humor and vulnerability by a messy, intelligent, and relatable narrator. Young navigates the youthful neon-bright nights of present-day Seoul as a gay man, but his life is as lonely as it is freewheeling. As we long for his happiness while he grows and yearns, we realize those same longings for ourselves. Park's English-language debut is devastating, but in the warmest way possible. Although Park's been likened to Nam-Joo Cho, he's truly his own voice, and we can only hope to have more writers compared to him in the future. -Elaine


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Oh William!: A Novel Cover Image
$27.00
ISBN: 9780812989434
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Random House - October 19th, 2021

Not having previously read an Elizabeth Strout novel, I came to Oh William! (the third of a trilogy or perhaps a series featuring the character Lucy Barton) without preconceptions or expectations. And I was captivated, delighted, disturbed—everything you’d hope for in a novel. Lucy is an accomplished, well-regarded writer whose public renown is completely at odds with her inner sense of insignificance and invisibility. William is her first (divorced) husband and the father of her two grown daughters. He turns to Lucy to help him gather the strands of his unraveling life. Along the way we witness how people carry the damage of childhood woes and traumas, and how they struggle, and often fail, to integrate their inner sense of self with their outer performance and reception. We also see the intricate clockwork of minor—even miniscule—details that make a marriage work or fail. If this seems oppressive, it’s not—it’s merely real, thanks to the perfectly clear, simple, unobtrusive quality of Strout’s writing. I’ll now eagerly read My Name Is Lucy Barton and Anything Is Possible. And if you haven’t, you will too. -Peter


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O Beautiful: A Novel Cover Image
$27.99
ISBN: 9781250274328
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: St. Martin's Press - November 9th, 2021

In Jung Yun’s novel, O Beautiful, a struggling Asian American journalist returns to North Dakota to research a magazine article about the effects of the oil boom on the community where she was raised. Complex and suspenseful, this story’s attention is always on the power relations among community members, both intimates and bystanders, inviting us to turn our attention away from the obvious (an unsolved murder) to a deeper examination of the truth. That all of the mysteries in this book aren’t solved by the end is part of this book’s considerable power.-Karen


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The House of Rust: A Novel Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9781644450680
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Graywolf Press - October 19th, 2021

From Seattle’s sister city of Mombasa comes this beguiling tale of a young girl who takes to the sea on her own in order to find and rescue her missing fisherman father. This award-winning debut novel casts a spell—almost literally—with worldly and otherworldly marvels. Set within the Hadrami community of Mombasa, at sea and on land,  Aisha wants life to be as it was, as she comes to see what growing into her own self and the world means: it’s the mystery of life,  the dimension of something new, revealing the complexity of being and knowing more with surprise and beauty. -Rick


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The Book of Mother: A Novel Cover Image
By Violaine Huisman, Leslie Camhi (Translated by)
$27.00
ISBN: 9781982108786
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Scribner - October 19th, 2021

Translated from French, this debut novel is told in three parts. The book starts from the perspective of then ten-year-old Violaine, the youngest daughter of Catherine, as she describes her glamorous, yet mercurial mother. In the second section, the reader learns of the depth of Catherine's manic depression and her complicated life, and in the final section, Violaine and her sister, now adults, describe their mother's death and their shared grief over it. The narrative fabric provides a rich, textured frame for this torrential family story. -Holly


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Cloud Cuckoo Land: A Novel Cover Image
$30.00
ISBN: 9781982168438
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Scribner - September 28th, 2021

Once upon a time, an unknown writer came to Elliott Bay from his Boise home and read from a book of stories, The Shell Collector. Anthony Doerr came for that and his subsequent books, which got him a nice reception but nothing too much to write home about. These books laid the groundwork for the marvel that would be his breakout, All the Light We Cannot See, and that helped set up this amazing book, which takes us to times past, times present, times future in utterly fabulous ways. Children are involved, as well as libraries and books, the stories that books tell, and how they inform what we know, imagine, love—in a nutshell, you have a book to take to heart. Literally.-Rick


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We Are Not Like Them: A Novel Cover Image
$27.00
ISBN: 9781982181031
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Atria Books - October 5th, 2021

A friendship tested. An innocent murder. Two sides of a racial divide. A national outrage. A grieving mother. A ripped-from-the-headlines story that has become all too familiar. This gut-wrenching saga will tug at your heart and mind as you try to imagine what you would do if you found yourself in this situation. Two brilliant authors combine to share different viewpoints on this tragically common experience. An evocation of grief, frustration, and sorrow. A hard but worthwhile read. -Stephanie


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The Death of Jane Lawrence: A Novel Cover Image
$27.99
ISBN: 9781250272584
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: St. Martin's Press - October 5th, 2021

Caitlin Starling’s The Death of Jane Lawrence begs you to question your perception of reality. This story follows Jane as she navigates her marriage to a man that she did not intend to love and the secrets that he did not intend to share. In order to live the life that she dreamed could be hers, Jane dissects the line between her world and the horrifying world that rests beyond rational understanding. Starling’s characters are hauntingly human and stunningly complex, and this unsettling, gothic novel will leave you picking up the pieces of what you thought you knew to be true. -Grace


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The Last House on Needless Street Cover Image
$27.99
ISBN: 9781250812629
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Tor Nightfire - September 28th, 2021

Ted is a strict father and a devoted cat-owner who is determined to do what it takes to keep his strange little family, and his many dark and deeply buried secrets, safe from the outside world. This book will keep you disoriented and completely hooked until the very end. Ward’s ability to build tension rivals the mastery of Shirley Jackson, and her use of common horror tropes is clever and subversive, so that just when you think you’ve got it all figured out, the story shifts and you find yourself rethinking all you thought you knew about the secrets inside the last house on Needless Street. -Keenan


Original Sisters: Portraits of Tenacity and Courage (Pantheon Graphic Library) Cover Image
By Anita Kunz, Roxane Gay (Foreword by)
$30.00
ISBN: 9780593316146
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Pantheon - November 9th, 2021

Did you know that a woman first invented the game of Monopoly as a critique of capitalism and England once had a black queen? How about that Genghis Khan's great-great-granddaughter never married because no man could ever beat her in a wrestling match? Kunz's snappy single-paragraph biographies are sure to spark a frenzy of fascinating googling, while her sensitive brushwork and faithful likenesses afford these often unsung women the time and care they so richly deserve. This book makes an inspiring springboard for the budding feminist or a fine addition to the well-curated coffee table. -Lara


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The 1619 Project: A New Origin Story Cover Image
By Nikole Hannah-Jones (Created by), The New York Times Magazine (Created by), Caitlin Roper (Editor), Ilena Silverman (Editor), Jake Silverstein (Editor)
$38.00
ISBN: 9780593230572
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: One World - November 16th, 2021

As long as The New York Times has been around, as many news-making stories it’s published, it’s never had the reaction that a special NYT Magazine article evoked two years ago, marking 500 years since enslaved people were brought to these shores from Africa. Now a book that will endure for years to come, The 1619 Project has grown to epic scale and scope. Nineteen major pieces on themes central to telling this country’s real history as not told before are at the heart of this landmark book, threaded through with poems, plays, and prose pieces that artistically illuminate the immense lessons this book eloquently carries.  -Rick


Born in Blackness: Africa, Africans, and the Making of the Modern World, 1471 to the Second World War Cover Image
$35.00
ISBN: 9781631495823
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Liveright - October 12th, 2021

Africa presses upon the conscience of the world and especially the West with a kind of divine persistence. Yet its place in the history of the modern world has largely been scratched. Born in Blackness corrects the omission admirably with a compelling blend of history and travel narrative. It can pull no punches in detailing a difficult past, yet it does so in a way that mixes gentle, prodding humor with equally gentle, but insistent, anger. Vast, detailed, riveting and accessible; newcomers can find no better introduction. For bona fide Africa-philes it's sheer delight. -Jesse


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Hip-Hop (And Other Things) Cover Image
By Shea Serrano, Arturo Torres (Illustrator)
$27.00
ISBN: 9781538730225
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Twelve - October 26th, 2021

Serrano is back to serve the nerdiest of the nerds for whom no granule of information is too insignificant. His hyper wonky, discursive and incredibly accessible style is evident in a series of deep dives that makes questions you never thought to ask feel imperative and that flow by like you're having a conversation with a close friend. The balance of loony levels of analysis, deep passion and pure reader-inclusive pleasure (make your own mixtape!) land this book in the sweet spot. If you're a far-gone head, it's perfect. If you're not, it'll make you one.-Wes


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Unprotected: A Memoir Cover Image
$28.00
ISBN: 9781419746192
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Harry N. Abrams - October 19th, 2021

Porter’s raw emotional memoir is chalk full of stories that will make your blood boil and then your heart soar. His tale growing up as a gay black man might be too familiar for some but his outlook and the way he handles each situation is uniquely Billy. He’s not afraid to stand up for himself, to be loud (with his words or his outfits!), knows he is allowed to take up space in this world and fights for what he’s earned. He’s truly a pioneer for the LGBTQ community and has led the way for many in terms of acceptance today.-Stephanie


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New Native Kitchen: Celebrating Modern Recipes of the American Indian Cover Image
By Freddie Bitsoie, James O. Fraioli, Quentin Bacon (By (photographer)), Gabriella Trujillo (Illustrator)
$40.00
ISBN: 9781419753558
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Harry N. Abrams - November 16th, 2021

Executive Chef at Mitsitam Native Foods Cafe at the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian, Bitsoie delivers a must-have cookbook for every home cook.  Himself a Navajo Nation member, the selection of recipes is inclusive of tribal groups from around the country and celebrates each region's heritage. You may never think of corn the same after reading his recipe for Sweet Summer Corn Broth. He offers excellent ideas on sourcing indigneous ingredients, as well as solid instructions on how to truss a bird or roast peppers. Like a lot of successful chefs, he was inspired by his grandmother, who shared her knowledge of food and cooking, which he generously shares with us.-Holly


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These Precious Days: Essays Cover Image
$26.99
ISBN: 9780063092785
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Harper - November 23rd, 2021

She’s such a brilliant novelist that it's easy to forget Ann Patchett is equally, if not more so, a masterful essayist. Three Fathers, the very first essay, which includes a spectacular photo with a mini story behind it, reminds one of the gift of family and how we are shaped by those relationships. Last year, I had the joy of listening to Patchett’s Dutch House on audio—read by Tom Hanks. The novel was immersive and Hank’s voice was a soothing presence during our first Covid summer. Here, in These Precious Days, is the story of how Tom Hanks came to do that recording and it does not disappoint.-Tracy


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12 Bytes: How We Got Here. Where We Might Go Next Cover Image
$27.00
ISBN: 9780802159250
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Grove Press - October 12th, 2021

With conversational ease and a keen feminist lens, Winterson contextualizes our current relationships to privacy, truth, robots, AI, memory, gender, and love, tracing the triumphs and pitfalls of technological "progress" before describing the parabolic paths to our possible futures. Despite a healthy dose of history-fueled cynicism, Winterson does not shake a cane at our ever- evolving tech—each prescient and thought-bending essay inflamed my fear of humans, but gave me real hope that we might build something that can build itself to do better than our striving little meat machines.-Lara


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Seattle's Olympic Sculpture Park: A Place for Art, Environment, and an Open Mind Cover Image
By Mimi Gardner Gates (Editor)
$45.00
ISBN: 9780932216809
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: University of Washington Press - November 30th, 2021

The Olympic Sculpture Park is a dynamic hybrid—an open green space brimming with artworks to explore. More than a catalog of the art, this lively collection of essays (including one from book editor and former Seattle Art Museum director, Mimi Gardner Gates, who made the park a reality by fusing the vision and means of others, along with her own) discusses the land the park inhabits; the partnership of public and private endeavors; as well as the pieces on the grounds. Illustrated with maps and arresting photos of the art and grounds bathed in Seattle blue sky. This is a keepsake treasure for anyone who has enjoyed time on the park grounds.-Holly


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Murakami T: The T-Shirts I Love Cover Image
By Haruki Murakami, Philip Gabriel (Translated by)
$25.00
ISBN: 9780593320426
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Knopf - November 23rd, 2021

Though it's often wise to separate the art from the artist, fans of Haruki Murakami can easily deduce that the author himself is... eccentric, to say the least. Because he wears his influences on his sleeve, it naturally follows that he has an extensive collection of obscure t-shirts, broadcasting such interests as music, books, beer, and running. Murakami has penned so many memorable books over the years, we here at the bookstore would gladly give him the shirt off our back— which is just what we did when he visited the store back in the 90s (and that shirt appears in this book!).-Brendan


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Such Color: New and Selected Poems Cover Image
$26.00
ISBN: 9781644450673
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Graywolf Press - October 5th, 2021

Whether you picked up a copy of The Body’s Question when it first appeared in 2003 and have followed  her since, came upon Tracy K. Smith’s subsequent three books of poetry, or whether this is your first encounter with her work, this is a book of poems to behold. Few poets of her generation—or any—have spanned the range she has, with poems of place, race, landscape, deep thought, life ruminations, vast questions, close encounters—all in a singular, striking poetic voice, intimate and questioning, knowing, seeing, and oracular, at once.-Rick


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The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows Cover Image
$19.99
ISBN: 9781501153648
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Simon & Schuster - November 16th, 2021

This is one of those wondrous books you want to both devour and savor. Drawn from languages around the world both living and dead, Koenig melds root words into entirely new expressions that land somewhere between whimsical and poignant in an attempt to apply an ephemeral meaning not to things or concepts but to states of being. The six chapters group the terms and definitions by theme (outer world, inner world, time, etc.), supplying a definition as well as the etymology the word was born from. Not just for the logophile, all readers will swoon for this ingenious and fanciful tome. -Holly


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Amos McGee Misses the Bus Cover Image
By Philip C. Stead, Erin E. Stead (Illustrator)
$18.99
ISBN: 9781250213228
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Roaring Brook Press - November 23rd, 2021

The beloved characters from A Sick Day for Amos McGee make a sweet reprise in this  endearing companion book. Amos falls asleep at an inopportune time and misses his bus. This is not the only wrinkle to his day, but fortunately, he has the support of his loving friends from the zoo. With their muted palette and simple outlines, the charming illustrations capture so perfectly the tender nature of Amos and his faithful friends. This is another genuinely heartwarming tale from the Steads!  -Holly


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Stuntboy, in the Meantime Cover Image
By Jason Reynolds, Raúl the Third (Illustrator)
$13.99
ISBN: 9781534418165
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books - November 30th, 2021

Master storyteller Reynolds takes on divorce, bullying, friendship, and more in this kinetic read. Our hero, Portico Reeves, is dealing with a classmate bullying him and his parents constantly arguing.  His best friend Zola (who is teaching him to meditate) suggests they create superhero alter egos, and thus Stuntboy is born.  Boldly illustrated, this clever format lies somewhere between a TV script and graphic novel, and it will surely capture the attention of young readers.  -Holly


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The Beatryce Prophecy Cover Image
By Kate DiCamillo, Sophie Blackall (Illustrator)
$19.99
ISBN: 9781536213614
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Candlewick - September 28th, 2021

At the monastery of the Order of the Chronicles of Sorrowing, Brother Edik finds a child, Beatryce, very ill and curled up with a disagreeable goat named Answelica. Brother Edik comes to realize Beatryce is the subject of a prophecy he himself transcribed, and that she is being hunted by the king for her dangerous secret. Stunning illustrations by Caldecott Medalist Blackall are the perfect rendering to Newbery winner DiCamillo’s motley cast of characters and their momentous journey. -Holly


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What Is Love? Cover Image
By Mac Barnett, Carson Ellis (Illustrator)
$17.99
ISBN: 9781452176406
Availability: Coming Soon - Available for Pre-Order: Scroll Down to Product Details for Release Date
Published: Chronicle Books - December 28th, 2021

Award-winning children's book authors Mac Barnett and Carson Ellis team up to display their expert craftsmanship while exploring one of life's central, unanswerable questions. What Is Love (despite initiating an earworm of the Halladay "classic") is a warm-hearted fable about the importance of learning to listen to the world within and without ourselves. With understated wit and humor, and with close attention paid to the details of an engaged life, What Is Love is both timely and timeless.-John


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It Fell from the Sky Cover Image
By Terry Fan, Eric Fan, Terry Fan (Illustrator), Eric Fan (Illustrator)
$17.99
ISBN: 9781534457621
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers - September 28th, 2021

The Fan Brothers are back with another sumptuously-illustrated picture book brimming with heart! When a mysterious object falls from the sky one Thursday, all the creatures in the garden agree that it’s the most amazing thing they’ve ever seen. No one knows what to do with it, until Spider insists that it actually belongs to him. Featuring lush, intricate graphite drawings, and whimsical, funny characters, this book is a beautiful lesson in how we can all choose to share the wonders in our lives. -Laura


George and His Nighttime Friends Cover Image
$18.95
ISBN: 9781648960703
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Princeton Architectural Press - October 19th, 2021

George is having trouble sleeping, being afraid of the dark. A little mouse shows up and leads him on an adventure through the darkened house. Meeting many nighttime friends along the way, they illuminate the house and help him realize it's not so scary after all! Wonderfully written and illustrated by Seng Soun Ratanavanh, its style reminds me of the many colorful picture books I read as a child and all the nighttime adventures I wanted to have. -Andy