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"The wail of a steam locomotive whistle, heard at night through an open window, was like no other," writes Louis Rubin in his latest memoir, an elegy for steam engines called A Memory of Trains: The Boll Weevil and Others. The former UNC-Chapel Hill professor and founder of Algonquin Books has written and edited almost as many volumes as there are states in the union, and A Memory of Trains is a gorgeous addition to his canon, full of delicious photographs of engines from the mid-'40s to the mid-'50s and first-person texts that detail his love affair with travel by rail. This is a book to browse through on a rainy afternoon, just after you hear the howl of a passing freight, and has great gift potential for the holidays. To get a copy signed by the author himself, stop by the Regulator Bookshop (286-2700) on Thursday, Nov. 30 at 7 p.m. or Quail Ridge Books (828-1588) on Wednesday, Dec. 13 at 7:30 p.m., where Rubin will be making appearances.

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