May 9, 2014 12:22pm
Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library
Kurt Vonnegut was among the few grandmasters of twentieth-century American letters, one without whom the very term American literature would not mean what it does today. After the publication of his novel Slaughterhouse-Five brought him worldwide acclaim in 1969, Kurt Vonnegut became one of America’s most popular graduation speakers.
If This Isn’t Nice, What Is? is a selection of Kurt Vonnegut’s best graduation speeches, edited and introduced by Dan Wakefield. Amid the sarcasm and wit that are typical of his writing, Vonnegut also conveys in these speeches something of the seriousness and the momentousness of life too. He tells stories and jokes, invokes the figures who inspire him the most–Jesus, Eugene Debs, Bertrand Russell, Jazz historian Albert Murray, and Vonnegut’s friend Joseph Heller among many others. Perhaps most importantly, he inspires the young people in the audience to go out into the world and make a difference.