In fourth grade Sister Eugene Marie taught us to lower our expectations. When you Assume the Worst – the title of a hilarious collaboration between Carl Hiaasen and Roz Chast – you won’t be disapppointed. Sometimes, you might be happily surprised.
In their “Graduation Speech You Will Never Hear,” Hiaasen offers his humorous advice, accompanied by Roz Chast’s signature illustrations.
Among my favorite lines:
“….when the ignorant outperform the attentive—dimness triumphs. The result is that we end up with dangerously unqualified leaders, and then sit around disconsolately hoping the worst of them will be taken down by scandal or maybe an exploding prostate…”
“Stupidity is a real-world pandemic from which there’s no refuge, even at college. Each year, on prestigious campuses from coast to coast, no small number of diplomas are handed out to young men and women who barely scraped by.” (accompanied by Chast’s diploma for a Bachelor of Existing.)
“Spending all your waking hours doing only what feels good is a viable life plan if you’re a Labrador retriever…”
The seasons never seem to change where I live and most flowering trees and plants bloom year-round, but yearning for an old-time Spring, I bought some tulips. With closed buds shivering inside a glassed refrigerator, those flowers spoke to me. Sadly, they sat on my counter all day and night in a bowl of water, still bound with yarn in their plastic wrapping.
After binge watching Elizabeth Bennett and her sister Jane cutting flowers in their garden in the Colin Firth version of “Pride and Prejudice,” I finally decided to arrange my flowers. Unbound and recut, the tulips now refused to stand upright, drooping over the vase. Their green leaves stood up but the red buds flopped over – still unopened.
The next morning I found them, now opening and bending upward to the light in a cluster of red, and today I saw this…
If you are still alive after being bitten by a turtle, swamped by an alligator, and infected by a bat – can you call yourself a survivor? In his fourth book for younger audiences –Chomp – Carl Hiaasen uses his irreverent comedy in his favorite Florida setting to have some fun with arrogant reality show hosts while delivering a campy tale of a young boy’s defining moments in growing up.
Derek Badger (real name – Lee Bluepenny) is the star of a reality television show that has stunt men performing his harrowing escapades, while he secretly eats eclairs out of camera view. Mickey Cray and his son Wahoo (just like the fish) are hired as animal wranglers to provide alligators, snakes, and snapping turtles from their trained cadre to simulate the wilds of the Everglades for a show. Hiaasen offers laugh out loud experiences that have the television star showing off his ineptitude with Alice, the chomping alligator and other assorted wildlife.
When Tuna (yes, another fish), a young girl and classmate of Wahoo, runs away from her abusive father to join the Crays on location, the action takes a serious turn – especially when Tuna’s father shows up with a gun. The wild chase scenes with shootings, mosquitoes, and poison ivy create suspense, but the laughs are never far off.
Although Hiaasen targets a young audience for this weird tale, adults will catch the allusions and laugh louder.