Cold Water for the New Graduates Soul: ASSUME THE WORST

Assume the Worst

assume the worstThe Graduation Speech You’ll Never Hear

Written by: Carl Hiaasen
Read by: Carl Hiaasen
0 Hours and 15 Minutes
PRHA | Imprint: Random House Audio
Genre: Humor – Form – Parodies
Release Date: April 10, 2018

I voluntarily reviewed an advance readers copy of this book. No remuneration was exchanged and all opinions presented herein are my own except as noted.


This is Oh, the Places You’ll Never Go–the ultimate hilarious, cynical, but absolutely realistic view of a college graduate’s future. And what he or she can or can’t do about it.

“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.”
So begins Carl Hiaasen’s attempt to prepare young men and women for their future. And who better to warn them about their precarious paths forward than Carl Hiaasen? The answer, after reading Assume the Worst, is: Nobody.
And who better to illustrate–and with those illustrations, expand upon and cement Hiaasen’s cynical point of view–than Roz Chast, best-selling author/illustrator and National Book Award winner? The answer again is easy: Nobody.
Following the format of Anna Quindlen’s commencement address (Being Perfect) and George Saunders’s commencement address (Congratulations, by the way), the collaboration of Hiaasen and Chast might look typical from the outside, but inside it is anything but.
This book is bound to be a classic, sold year after year come graduation time. Although it’s also a good gift for anyone starting a job, getting married, or recently released from prison. Because it is not just funny. It is, in its own Hiaasen way, extremely wise and even hopeful. Well, it might not be full of hope, but there are certainly enough slivers of the stuff in there to more than keep us all going.


My Take Oblong Shaped


This is kind of a joke, but also, it’s a dose of reality. It is, of course for that bright-eyed graduate who you want to discourage in their attempt to take over the world (People graduate in December too). But, does it discourage the newly-minted engineer, teacher or social worker?  I don’t think it will kill a self-starter’s enthusiasm? I think not — it’s funny and delivered by Hiassen in a friendly tone. 

As he says, this is not a graduation speech you’ll ever hear because it doesn’t offer encouragement and inspiration.  It offers the student a warning to assume the worst. If we lower our expectations when we head off to interviews or a first job then we have less chance of being disappointed and more chances of having an uplifting experience when something good happens.

First off he dismisses the idea of a carefree life, and continues disposing of the aphorisms of youth.   I would say I wish someone offered me  this advice, but even the best advice would probably have been ignored by my very immature self. 
ere are a lot of crappy things that will happen if we just have a sunny point of view . It’s not that optimism is not a bad thing, but optimism without caution is.

Do you have someone graduating this December, or even in May?  This is a good listen and short. Like my post.


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