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‘Virtue,’ by Hermione Hoby: An Excerpt

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There’s something kind of gratifying about a really bad birthday. Toward the garish end of 2016, the year our idols died, I turned twenty‑three alone, failing to read a book in the dim eggy light of a deserted Chinatown bar. I’d convinced myself that this stoically miserable total nonevent was preferable to drinks with a few people mustering faint cries of “Happy birthday!” or, God forbid, trying to sing the song—always too slow, always going on longer than anyone wanted, particularly when groaning toward that final protracted lift on the first syllable of the penultimate birthday.

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