Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton was in Springfield, Ill., Wednesday where she sought to use the symbolism of a historic landmark to draw parallels to a present-day America that is in need of repairing deepening racial and cultural divides.

The Old State Capitol — where Abraham Lincoln delivered his famous "A house divided" speech in 1858 warning against the ills of slavery and where Barack Obama launched his presidential bid in 2007 — served as the backdrop for Clinton as she spoke of how "America's long struggle with race is far from finished."

Episode 711: Hooked on Heroin

1 hour ago

When we meet the heroin dealer called Bone, he has just shot up. He has a lot to say anyway. He tells us about his career--it pretty much tracks the evolution of drug use in America these past ten years or so. He tells us about his rough past. And he tells us about how he died a week ago. He overdosed on his own supply and his friend took his body to the emergency room, then left.

New British Prime Minister Theresa May announced six members of her Cabinet Wednesday.

Amid a sweeping crackdown on dissent in Egypt, security forces have forcibly disappeared hundreds of people since the beginning of 2015, according to a new report from Amnesty International.

It's an "unprecedented spike," the group says, with an average of three or four people disappeared every day.

The Republican Party, as it prepares for its convention next week has checked off item No. 1 on its housekeeping list — drafting a party platform. The document reflects the conservative views of its authors, many of whom are party activists. So don't look for any concessions to changing views among the broader public on key social issues.

Many public figures who took to Twitter and Facebook following the murder of five police officers in Dallas have faced public blowback and, in some cases, found their employers less than forgiving about inflammatory and sometimes hateful online comments.

As Venezuela unravels — with shortages of food and medicine, as well as runaway inflation — President Nicolas Maduro is increasingly unpopular. But he's still holding onto power.

"The truth in Venezuela is there is real hunger. We are hungry," says a man who has invited me into his house in the northwestern city of Maracaibo, but doesn't want his name used for fear of reprisals by the government.

The wiry man paces angrily as he speaks. It wasn't always this way, he says, showing how loose his pants are now.

Ask a typical teenage girl about the latest slang and girl crushes and you might get answers like "spilling the tea" and Taylor Swift. But at the Girl Up Leadership Summit in Washington, D.C., the answers were "intersectional feminism" — the idea that there's no one-size-fits-all definition of feminism — and U.N. climate chief Christiana Figueres.

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Arizona Hispanics Poised To Swing State Blue

5 hours ago
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An Exhaustive Survey From Columbus To Nemesis In 'Roth Unbound'

Oct 23, 2013

Roth Unbound, Claudia Roth Pierpont's aptly titled study of Philip Roth's evolution as a writer, unleashes a slew of memories — including my eye-opening first encounter with Portnoy's Complaint as a naive 14-year-old. It also stokes a strong desire to re-read his books, which I suspect will be the case for many.

About that early memory: My father was an avid fan, who connected with Roth's exuberant, subversive take on sex and what it meant to be both a secular Jew and an American in the years following WorId War II. And because I read pretty much whatever I found lying around our home, I wrote a report on his groundbreaking fourth book in my ninth grade reading journal. While most readers were shocked by Portnoy's outrageous, unquenchable lust, what bowled me over was the realization that my overbearing Brooklyn grandmother wasn't unique: Roth had captured her right down to her name, Sophie! (My teacher, no doubt taken aback, commented, "I'd never recommend it to ninth grade readers, but you seem to have seen what's best in it.")

Pierpont, no relation to Roth despite her middle name, became friendly with the writer after he sent her a letter in response to one of her New Yorker articles. In the book's introduction, she acknowledges that she has benefited from his decision to stop writing fiction, which he announced publicly last year: Now "he had time to talk about his work because he wasn't doing it anymore." Her book is sprinkled with tantalizing glimpses of the man, whom she describes as "a brilliant talker ... as funny as you might think from his books," and of his life, including an amusing dinner at his Connecticut home with Mia Farrow. There are also passing mentions of lovers who provided the models for some of his characters. But readers looking for more of the juicy personal stuff will have to wait for a full-scale biography. Roth Unbound is mainly about the books.

All of them. Pierpont tracks Roth's recurrent themes — Jewish identity, manliness, sexual desire, art versus life, the unpredictable savagery of history, illness and mortality – through one book after another, from Goodbye, Columbus in 1959 to Nemesis in 2010. This makes for a dazzling if sometimes exhausting journey. We're relieved when she finally makes it through the entire formidable stack and brings us up to date in a more intimate bonus chapter, "Afterthoughts, Memories, and Discoveries: At It Again."

Despite her personal tie and obvious admiration, Pierpont doesn't mince words in her literary criticism, and her book is better for it. She deems Roth's first novel, Letting Go, "overlong and — toward the end, especially — laborious." His 1998 novel, I Married a Communist (part of his American trilogy, along with American Pastoral and The Human Stain) "does not really work," she writes. "I don't believe there is a book by Roth in which the voices are dimmer or less engaging."

On the other hand, The Ghost Writer, published in 1979, elicits her highest praise: "Like The Great Gatsby or Willa Cather's The Professor's House, it is one of our literature's rare, inevitably brief, inscrutably musical, and nearly perfect books." Then she probes further: "What had happened to make this possible?"

Pierpont flags Roth's "vocal immediacy," exceptional ear and inventive playfulness, his penchant for Swiftian satire, "hall-of-mirrors intricacy," moral dilemmas, doppelgangers, counterlives and "the rapturous list." She reminds us repeatedly that even the recurring characters who share his biographical details — Nathan Zuckerman, David Kepesh, and "Philip Roth" — are masks, and are not to be mistaken for the author. She keeps her quotes to a minimum, but they include winners like this line from The Counterlife: "Jews are to history what Eskimos are to snow."

Pierpont dutifully — and defensively — addresses the accusations of anti-Semitism and misogyny that have shadowed Roth throughout his career, the latter amplified after the 1996 publication of his second wife Claire Bloom's furious post-divorce memoir, Leaving the Doll's House. "It should be clear by now," she comments, "that Roth, when attacked, prefers to goad rather than retreat: to make mischief, to get adrenaline flowing." It often seems that he's fueled by what Mickey Sabbath, his "deliberately abrasive and insanely funny" misanthropic character in Sabbath's Theater, called the male hormone: "preposterone."

In her enthusiasm, Pierpont occasionally goes over the top with "not since" pronouncements. "It's possible that not since Proust has a writer so nearly captured Time," she writes of Sabbath's Theater. Or, more broadly: "Not since Henry James, it seems to me, has an American novelist worked at such a sustained pitch of concentration and achievement, book after book after book." Which leaves me wondering: What about John Updike and Saul Bellow (both of whose relationships with Roth she considers at length)? Not to mention Joyce Carol Oates and E.L. Doctorow.

That said, Roth Unbound brings heightened understanding to the extraordinary scope and risk-taking brilliance of Roth's work, and makes a compelling case for its enduring importance. In fact, not since I first read Portnoy's Complaint have I been so struck by a writer's willingness to – dare I say it? – expose himself to so much outraged criticism.

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