If This Isn't Nice, What Is? (Even More) Expanded Third Edition: The Graduation Speeches and Other Words to Live By (Paperback)
Vonnegut himself never graduated college, so his words of admonition, advice, and hilarity always carried the delight, gentle irony, and generosity of someone savoring the promise of his fellow citizens—especially the young—rather than his own achievements.
Selected and introduced by fellow novelist and friend Dan Wakefield, the speeches in If This Isn’t Nice, What Is? comprise the first and only book of Vonnegut’s speeches. There are fourteen speeches, eleven given at colleges, one to the Indiana Civil Liberties Union, one on the occasion of Vonnegut receiving the Carl Sandburg Award, and now the anti-war speech he gave just months after the publication of Slaughterhouse-Five, as well as from related short personal essays—eighteen chapters in all. In each of these, Vonnegut takes pains to find the few things worth saying and a conversational voice to say them in that isn’t heavy-handed or pretentious or glib, but funny, joyful, and serious too, even if sometimes without seeming so.
A longtime friend of Kurt Vonnegut’s, DAN WAKEFIELD is co-editor with Jerome Klinkowitz of Vonnegut’s Complete Stories, which the New York Times called “a fascinating portrait-of-the-artist-on-the-make in the booming 1950s.” Wakefield also edited and introduced Kurt Vonnegut: Letters. He is the author of the memoirs New York in the Fifties and Returning: A Spiritual Journey. His novel Going All the Way was made into a movie starring Ben Affleck. Dan Wakefield also created the NBC prime time series James at Fifteen. He is currently at work on a YA biography of Kurt Vonnegut for Seven Stories. He lives in Indianapolis, Indiana.
“Like [that of] his literary ancestor Mark Twain, Kurt Vonnegut’s crankiness is good-humored and sharp-witted.” —A.O. Scott, New York Times Book Review
"Like so much of Vonnegut's work, these speeches combine absurdist humor, pessimism and countercultural politics, with improbably and disarmingly charming results." —Troy Jollimore, Chicago Tribune's Printers Row Journal
"If This Isn't Nice, What Is? is a blast of pure acid." —Entertainment Weekly
"The material here offers us a slightly different lens, a different window, extending across a wide range of time and geography, from Fredonia College in Fredonia New York in 1978 to Eastern Washington University in Spokane in 2004, and framed by not just Vonnegut’s sense of humor but also of humanity, his faith in our essential decency." —David Ulin, Los Angeles Times
"These delightful scattershot commencement speeches offer fresh clues to what lay behind Kurt Vonnegut's twinkly visage—clues that are well worth celebrating." —Peter Matthiessen
THE SANTA FE LITERARY FESTIVAL
Celebrating the power of story, the inaugural Santa Fe Literary Festival will be an unforgettable weekend dedicated to a shared love and language of ideas. Collected Works Bookstore is thrilled to be the official bookstore of the Festival.
Bestselling, prizewinning authors and literary legends like Margaret Atwood, Joy Harjo, Colson Whitehead, Sandra Cisneros, John Grisham, amongst others, will headline the festival, discussing their work with readings and book signings that set the stage for further inspired conversations.
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