Master storyteller and satirist Kurt Vonnegut was one of the most in-demand commencement speakers of his time. For each occasion, Vonnegut’s words were unfailingly unique, insightful, and witty, and they stayed with audience members long after graduation. As edited by Dan Wakefield, this book reads like a narrative in the unique voice that made Vonnegut a hero to readers of all ages. At times hilarious, razor-sharp, freewheeling, and deeply serious, these reflections are ideal for anyone undergoing what Vonnegut would call their “long-delayed puberty ceremony”—marking the passage from student to full-time adult. This book makes the perfect gift for high school or college graduates—or for parents and grandparents who remember Vonnegut fondly and want to connect with him in a new context.
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ABOUT KURT VONNEGUT Kurt Vonnegut is a unique voice in the American canon—a writer whose works are hard to categorize, often straddling the space between literature and science fiction, and filled with cutting satire and dark humor. Like Mark Twain before him, Vonnegut's reputation and impact on American writing and reading will continue to grow steadily and increase in relevance as new insights are made. Vonnegut was born in 1922 in Indianapolis, and studied at the University of Chicago and the University of Tennessee. In the Second World War, he became a German prisoner of war and was present during the bombing of Dresden. This experience provided inspiration for his most successful and influential novel, Slaughterhouse-Five. Vonnegut—admired as much for his views and his “Vonnegutisms” as for his publications—wrote extensively in many forms, including novels, short stories, essays, plays, articles, speeches, and correspondence, some of which was published posthumously. ABOUT DAN WAKEFIELD A lifelong friend of Kurt Vonnegut’s, Dan Wakefield both edited and wrote the Introduction to the bestselling collection of Vonnegut’s personal correspondence, Kurt Vonnegut: Letters. In addition, Wakefield is the author of the memoir New York in the Fifties, which was made into a documentary film, as well as Returning: A Spiritual Journey. He created the NBC prime time series “James at Fifteen” and wrote the script for the movie based on his novel Going All The Way, starring Ben Affleck.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
“One sort of optional thing you might do is to realize there are six seasons instead of four. The poetry of four seasons is all wrong for this part of the planet, and this may explain why we are so depressed so much of the time. I mean, Spring doesn’t feel like Spring a lot of the time, and November is all wrong for Fall and so on. Here is the truth about the seasons: Spring is May and June! What could be springier than May and June? Summer is July and August. Really hot, right? Autumn is September and October. See the pumpkins? Smell those burning leaves. Next comes the season called “Locking.” That is when Nature shuts everything down. November and December aren’t Winter. They’re Locking. Next comes Winter, January and February. Boy! Are they ever cold! What comes next? Not Spring. Unlocking comes next. What else could April be?
“One more optional piece of advice: If you ever have to give a speech, start with a joke, if you know one. For years I have been looking for the best joke in the world. I think I know what it is. I will tell it to you, but have to help me. You have to say, “No,” when I hold my hand like this. All right? Don’t let me down.
“Do you know why cream is so much more expensive than milk?
"It is because the cows hate to squat on those little bottles.”
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