Alabama authorities say a home burglary suspect has died after police used a stun gun on the man.  Birmingham police say he resisted officers who found him in a house wrapped in what looked like material from the air conditioner duct work.  The Lewisburg Road homeowner called police Tuesday about glass breaking and someone yelling and growling in his basement.  Police reportedly entered the dwelling and used a stun gun several times on a white suspect before handcuffing him.  Investigators say the man was "extremely irritated" throughout and didn't obey verbal commands.

Montgomery Education Foundation's Brain Forest Summer Learning Academy was spotlighted Wednesday at Carver High School.  The academic-enrichment program is for rising 4th, 5th, and 6th graders in the Montgomery Public School system.  Community Program Director Dillion Nettles, says the program aims to prevent learning loss during summer months.  To find out how your child can participate in next summer's program visit Montgomery-ed.org

A police officer is free on bond after being arrested following a rash of road-sign thefts in southeast Alabama.  Brantley Police Chief Titus Averett says officer Jeremy Ray Walker of Glenwood is on paid leave following his arrest in Pike County.  The 30-year-old Walker is charged with receiving stolen property.  Lt. Troy Johnson of the Pike County Sheriff's Office says an investigation began after someone reported that Walker was selling road signs from Crenshaw County.  Investigators contacted the county engineer and learned signs had been reported stolen from several roads.

NPR Politics presents the Lunchbox List: our favorite campaign news and stories curated from NPR and around the Web in digestible bites (100 words or less!). Look for it every weekday afternoon from now until the conventions.

Convention Countdown

The Republican National Convention is in 4 days in Cleveland.

The Democratic National Convention is in 11 days in Philadelphia.

NASA has released the first picture of Jupiter taken since the Juno spacecraft went into orbit around the planet on July 4.

The picture was taken on July 10. Juno was 2.7 million miles from Jupiter at the time. The color image shows some of the atmospheric features of the planet, including the giant red spot. You can also see three of Jupiter's moons in the picture: Io, Europa and Ganymede.

The Senate is set to approve a bill intended to change the way police and health care workers treat people struggling with opioid addictions.

My husband and I once took great pleasure in preparing meals from scratch. We made pizza dough and sauce. We baked bread. We churned ice cream.

Then we became parents.

Now there are some weeks when pre-chopped vegetables and a rotisserie chicken are the only things between us and five nights of Chipotle.

Parents are busy. For some of us, figuring out how to get dinner on the table is a daily struggle. So I reached out to food experts, parents and nutritionists for help. Here is some of their (and my) best advice for making weeknight meals happen.

"O Canada," the national anthem of our neighbors up north, comes in two official versions — English and French. They share a melody, but differ in meaning.

Let the record show: neither version of those lyrics contains the phrase "all lives matter."

But at the 2016 All-Star Game, the song got an unexpected edit.

At Petco Park in San Diego, one member of the Canadian singing group The Tenors — by himself, according to the other members of the group — revised the anthem.

School's out, and a lot of parents are getting through the long summer days with extra helpings of digital devices.

How should we feel about that?

Police in Baton Rouge say they have arrested three people who stole guns with the goal of killing police officers. They are still looking for a fourth suspect in the alleged plot, NPR's Greg Allen reports.

"Police say the thefts were at a Baton Rouge pawn shop early Saturday morning," Greg says. "One person was arrested at the scene. Since then, two others have been arrested and six of the eight stolen handguns have been recovered. Police are still looking for one other man."

A 13-year-old boy is among those arrested, Greg says.

Pages

Vonnegut 'Letters' Hilarious And Heartbreaking

Oct 30, 2012
Originally published on October 30, 2012 5:11 pm

In his introduction to Kurt Vonnegut: Letters, Dan Wakefield, the book's editor and a longtime Vonnegut karass member, writes of the late author's aspiration to be a "cultivated eccentric." Over the course of six decades of letters to family, friends, admirers, detractors and fellow writers, Vonnegut shows himself to be so much more, both in terms of ambition and accomplishment. In fact, viewed in its totality, the collection — by turns hilarious, heartbreaking and mundane — is striking in just how uneccentric it shows the author to be. Vonnegut himself is a near-perfect example of the same flawed, wonderful humanity that he loved and despaired over his entire life.

Letters should be read as a necessary companion piece to Charles J. Shields' evenhanded 2011 Vonnegut biography, And So It Goes. The Shields book reveals a successful but mostly unhappy man, one with a penchant for professional betrayals (he nixed an agreement with longtime friend and editor Knox Burger); an anti-war, liberal champion who had no problem investing in napalm manufacturer Dow Chemical.

The singular, iconic author was certainly complicated — and at times vain and quick to anger. Those critics who pigeonholed him as a sci-fi hack promptly felt the wrath of his epistolary ripostes. For example, six years after achieving lasting fame for his classic, Slaughterhouse-Five, a miffed Vonnegut felt compelled to write to Osborn Elliott, the editor of Newsweek, concerning a piece on science fiction written by Peter Prescott. Prescott's offending lines went like this: "Few sf [science fiction] writers aim higher than what a teen-age intelligence can grasp, and the smart ones, like Kurt Vonnegut, carefully satirize targets — racism, pollution, teachers — that teen-agers are conditioned to dislike." To which Vonnegut tersely replied, "I have never written with teen-agers in mind, nor are teen-agers the chief readers of my books. I am the first sf writer to win a Guggenheim, the first to become a member of the National Institute for Arts and Letters, the first to have a book become a finalist for a National Book Award." He goes on to list his undeniably impressive accomplishments and titles for several more lines.

This fierce pride in his work and resistance to the shallow critical dismissals that would label him a one-trick genre pony were tempered by a constant and playful deprecatory air. In 1959, Vonnegut wrote a short missive to a writer acquaintance named Norman Mailer: "I have just finished reading your ad for yourself — a lot of it twice, at your suggestion. Since my reputation is worthless, my comments on the book would be worthless, so f - - - them."

His note to Mailer continues with an anecdote about a time, about 10 years prior, when the two of them socialized with Vonnegut's drunk mother-in-law: "[She] was about two feet away from you, indoors, separated from you by a window shade drawn over an open window. She said to me in a loud, indignant squawk, 'Well — I think you're cuter than he is ...' It's a fact, incidentally — I am cuter than you are. Respectfully, Somebody named Kurt Vonnegut, Jr."

Vonnegut saved some of his harshest criticisms for censors who would ban and sometimes burn his novels without having read a single page, and there are no shortage of these scathing attacks in the collection. But it's the letters to his children that reveal the private figure. In the early '70s, soon after he took a teaching position at the Iowa Writers' Workshop (where he mentored the likes of John Irving and Gail Godwin), Vonnegut split from his wife, Jane. Though the breakup was mostly amicable, its quiet fallout underlies much of the subsequent correspondence with his daughters Nanette and Edith. In an unintentionally amusing letter dating from 1973, Vonnegut refers to Geraldo Rivera, Edie's then-husband — and current Fox News reporter — as "a fierce Democrat and closet Marxist." So it goes.

Toward the end of his life, the correspondence gets a bit sadder and more self-reflective, as is to be expected. In a few late letters, Vonnegut refers to himself as one of "Melville's whalers, who didn't talk anymore because they'd said all they had to say." By the time he died, in 2007, the writer had outlived his first wife and many friends. In many of the letters, you get the sense that he is just killing time — making silkscreen paintings, writing tributes and blurbs — while waiting for the end.

If that seems unpleasant, consider it in light of his unsuccessful 1984 suicide attempt. After that booze-and-pill cocktail, he found reason to keep going — and even to impart some wisdom. Kurt Vonnegut: Letters ends, appropriately, with the last words of advice he wrote for an audience: "And how should we behave during this Apocalypse? We should be unusually kind to one another, certainly. But we should also stop being so serious. Jokes help a lot. And get a dog, if you don't already have one ... I'm out of here."

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.