WHO: Carl Hiaasen and Roz Chast
WHAT: ASSUME THE WORST:
The Graduation Speech You’ll Never Hear
WHEN: Published by Knopf April 10, 2018
WHERE: Hiaasen lives in Florida. Chast lives in New York.
WHY: “Two of the literary world’s most entertaining light-hearted cynics collaborate on a brief text that takes the form of a fake graduation speech.
“‘It’s pretty fucked up,’ writes Hiaasen early on in the speech, referring to the ‘real world’ that his imaginary graduates are preparing to enter. Accompanied by apt illustrations from New Yorker illustrator Chast, this speech runs through a litany of life’s challenges and obstacles and how to overcome them (‘lowering your expectations will inoculate you against serial disappointment’) followed by a shorter closing section in which Hiaasen turns more hopeful. ‘After all, he does want his readers to experience happiness, but happiness is ‘slippery. It’s unpredictable. It’s a different sensation for everyone.’
“A good portion of the text discusses our highly divisive society and the prevalence of stupidity — or, more accurately, willful ignorance. Hiaasen is quick to point out that society as a whole may not be dumber than when he graduated college in 1974, but the social and cultural landscape is vastly different. ‘Society has been deeply divided before,’ he writes, ‘but never has it been so inanely distracted. Don’t be shocked if more Americans can identify all the Kardashian sisters than can find Serbia on a world map.’
“Global geography aside, there’s no question that technology has shifted our gaze and often warped our perceptions of each other, and the text and illustrations here serve as a quick, amusing snapshot of that situation. Thankfully, underneath all the despair and snark — social media is ‘a geyser of ominous evidence that our species has begun to de-evolve, receding back to the slime bog from which we first emerged’ — are glimmers of optimism, as in most of the work from both Hiaasen and Chast. ‘One thing happiness is not,’ writes Hiaasen, ‘is overrated.’ Slim but pointed and humorous; a good gift for the neighbor’s kid’s graduation.” –KIRKUS REVIEWS
FROM THE BEGINNING OF THE BOOK:
This commencement address will never be given, because graduation speakers are supposed to offer encouragement and inspiration. That’s not what you need. You need a warning. After an uncommonly long career observing and writing about misbehavior, I have one piece of advice as you launch yourselves from college: Assume the worst.
Knopf. 44 pages. With illustrations by Roz Chast. $15.95
To interview the authors, contact:
Erinn Hartman | 212-572-2345 | firstname.lastname@example.org