A new posthumous book by Kurt Vonnegut is coming to print, and it’s aimed at the nation’s youth. Vonnegut’s lifelong friend, David Wakefield, in conjunction with Donald Farber, the literary executor of Kurt Vonnegut’s estate, compiled discarded speeches and commencement addresses Vonnegut had written or given during his lifetime.
Wakefield edited the speeches and penned an introduction to make it into an eBook last year entitled, If This Isn’t Nice, What Is? This year, the book will be released in hardcover, including various illustrations by Vonnegut.
As time winds down for those who are graduating the MS in Publishing Program this May, we’d like to leave you with the imparting words of wisdom from Vonnegut’s commencement speech to the Syracuse University class of 1994.
“Now this gathering is a work of art. The teacher whose name I mentioned when we all remembered good teachers asked me one time, “What is it artists do?” And I mumbled something. “They do two things,” he said. “First, they admit they can’t straighten out the whole universe. And then second, they make at least one little part of it exactly as it should be. A blob of clay, a square of canvas, a piece of paper, or whatever.” We have all worked so hard and well to make these moments and this place exactly what it should be.
As I have told you, I had a bad uncle named Dan, who said a male can’t be a man unless he’d gone to war. But I had a good uncle named Alex, who said, when life was most agreeable – and it could be just a pitcher of lemonade in the shade – he would say, “If this isn’t nice, what is?” So I say that about what we have achieved here right now. If he hadn’t said that so regularly, maybe five or six times a month, we might not have paused to notice how rewarding life can be sometimes. Perhaps my good uncle Alex will live on in some of you members of the Syracuse Class of 1994 if, in the future, you will pause to say out loud every so often,
“If this isn’t nice, what is?”