Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit

Arizona Hispanics Poised To Swing State Blue

38 minutes ago
Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit

Edit note: This report contains accounts of rape, violence and other disturbing events.

Sex trafficking wasn't a major concern in the early 1980s, when Beth Jacobs was a teenager. If you were a prostitute, the thinking went, it was your choice.

Jacobs thought that too, right up until she came to on the lot of a dark truck stop one night. She says she had asked a friendly-seeming man for a ride home that afternoon.

Jacobs says he gave her something in an old McDonald's cup — a drug — and as she was waking up the man announced that he was a pimp. Her pimp.

The Boston Citgo sign, all 3,600 square LED feet of which has served as the backdrop to Red Sox games since 1965, is now officially a "pending landmark."

Spanish Surrealist Salvador Dalí spent much of the 1940s in the U.S., avoiding World War II and its aftermath. He was a well-known fixture on the art scene in Monterey, Calif. — and that's where the largest collection of Dalí's work on the West Coast is now open to the public.

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In Alice McDermott's 'Charming Billy', Love Turns To Grief

Mar 31, 2013
Originally published on April 1, 2013 10:12 am

Harold Augenbraum is the executive director of the National Book Foundation.

Alice McDermott's masterpiece, Charming Billy, opens after an Irish-American funeral at a dank restaurant that, "lacking only draught Guinness and a peat fire, might have been a pub in rural Ireland." The widow Maeve grieves. Interspersed into this Dubliners-esque scene are questions of what happened to Billy to send him into the tailspin that ended his life. It must have been Eva, "The Irish Girl," the young woman he loved before Maeve — he never recovered from her death. And it turns out that maybe Billy's particular charm emerged from his own singular brand of grief — a grief that resulted from his own delusions, particularly about Eva, and a subterfuge perpetuated by loving friends.

Love, in this book, tatters its own lovers. Billy, Dennis — Billy's best friend — and Maeve are coping with the final edge of a lifelong grief. This is a book about discovering long-buried secrets, and whether it is better to know or not to know. No one writes better about regret, the chimeras of the past, and about the inadequacy of possible love, the chimeras of the future, than McDermott: "In the arc of an unremarkable life, a life whose triumphs are small and personal, whose trials are ordinary enough, as tempered in their pain as in their resolution of pain, the claim of exclusivity in love requires both a certain kind of courage and a good dose of delusion."

Because she unfolds her story slowly, and you learn about what happened only gradually, you discover with the narrator, the finder-outer, as it were, why Billy's melancholy ran so deep, and why a romance of sadness can seduce the young. All this is told not by a friend or a daughter, which would be too obvious, but by Dennis' daughter. She doesn't lead you to empathize or sympathize with Billy. Instead, you feel with her, you partake in her emotions.

Only the best writers can do that. McDermott controls the tone through perfectly composed sentences. She gives you quiet successions of words that take shape in well-structured paragraphs, as if you the reader were watching her practicing origami. Each fold is a new facet. In her pages one encounters characters passing like paper ducks on a pond.

Dissolution and violence lie just beneath — psychic, emotional and often physical, and certainly the threat of all these. Memory does not work in straight lines, nor should the art that reveals it. When you close the book and go to sleep, the next morning you wake up and you can't remember that you never knew Billy at all.

You Must Read This is produced and edited by the team at NPR Books.

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