REVIEW: If This Isn’t Nice, What Is? by Kurt Vonnegut

I’m sitting in the shop where I hang out, vaping on New York Cheesecake by The Real, with the book in front of my face. The black leather couches are so comfortable. I start laughing senselessly and all my friends are looking as if I have really lost it. I guess it’s only acceptable to laugh at a movie, not a book. I guess that’s weird; I don’t know. I read it again, and try to stifle the second laugh, but I can’t. It’s so funny. I want to repeat it to one of them, but I don’t, and I’m glad I didn’t.

“Well-dressed people ask me sometimes, with their teeth bared, as though they were about to bite me, if I believe in redistribution of wealth. I can only reply that it doesn’t matter what I think, that wealth is already being redistributed every hour, often in ways that are absolutely fantastic.”
-Kurt Vonnegut, If This Isn’t Nice, What Is?

I have to stop reading then, because more of our friends have arrived, and I have to pretend that being social comes naturally to me. At least there are cards. Castle. I hate this game.

In my life, I have gone back and forth in disagreeing with my own ideal that no one understands me. Most of the time I default to the reasoning that such a thing is immature thinking; something a sixteen-year-old teenager would say in a fight with their parents. Something sixteen-year-old-me would say in a fight with her parents. Surely I have surrounded myself with enough authors and artists and activists and intelligent thinkers that someone will know what I’m talking about at least half the time. Someone will get it, even if I only give them half the story to get.

In my bout with this book, If This Isn’t Nice, What Is?, on Instagram, I posted a renowned quote by another great genius of literature, and linked it to Facebook, as I sometimes do.

“Find what you love and let it kill you.”
-Charles Bukowski

The comments I got proved that either (1) even in the hundreds of people who are known as authors and artists and activists and intelligent thinkers in my circle, no one understands me or (2) I am in fact an angsty sixteen-year-old girl stuck in a twenty-nine-year-old woman’s body. Comments like “love and puppies”. Look, I get that love and puppies are pretty awesome – who doesn’t like puppies? – but you are completely, completely missing the damn point. I am quite sure that was not what the author of Post Office (Google it), a literary giant and rumored misogynist, had in mind. But I have this thing where I never argue any point on the Internet. It is a waste of my time. So I like the comments and go on my merry way.

“I am, incidentally, honorary president of the American Humanist Association, having succeeded the late, great science fiction writer Isaac Asimov in that utterly functionless capacity. We Humanists behave as honorably as we can without any expectations of rewards or punishments in the afterlife. We serve as best we can the only abstraction with which we have any real familiarity, which is our community.
We had a memorial service for Asimov a while back, and at one point I said, “Isaac is up in Heaven now.” That was the funniest thing I could have said to an audience of Humanists. I rolled them in the aisles. It was several minutes before order could be restored.
If I should ever die, again God forbid, I hope some of you will say, “Kurt’s up in heaven now.” That’s my favorite joke.”
-Kurt Vonnegut, If This Isn’t Nice, What Is?

A friend of mine, a mental health advocate, took this as an opportunity to express his devoted Christianity. I can appreciate this. Really, I can; I respect all religious beliefs even if they don’t match my own. But this is a satirical quote. It is not meant to stir up the world enough to debate which religion is better. It’s funny. Kurt Vonnegut is funny. I am apprehensive to admit this or to even write any of this. It could upset people, or even worse, garner comments that are similar to the ones I have already received: ones that miss the entire point of the integral epitome of everything Vonnegut’s literature represented. It makes me so sad that I even have to explain this. But it shouldn’t, because I guess that’s the whole point. The greatest element of Vonnegut’s work is that the majority of the world doesn’t get it. It’s only meant for the small number of people that do.

If This Isn’t Nice, What Is? is a fantastic compilation of Vonnegut’s satirical advice to the young. It is certainly the first book in ages that has got my intellectual wheels turning into such an ideal that some people are too different to even fit in to a group of people who are supposed to be like-minded, and again, that is the point. The point is that Vonnegut is great because he is misunderstood by most. Most.

I’m sorry about the time I said I was just a normal girl. That’s obviously grossly incorrect.

“Many people need desperately to receive this message: ‘I feel and think as much as you do, care about many of the things you care about, although most people do not care about them. You are not alone.'”
-Kurt Vonnegut

If only he were still alive.


A Bestselling Author, NPO VP, and Psychology Today Blogger from Burbank, California, Allie Burke writes books she can’t find in the bookstore. Having been recognized as writing a “kickass book that defies the genre it’s in”, Allie writes with a prose that has been labeled poetic and ethereal.

Her life is a beautiful disaster, flowered with the harrowing existence of inherited eccentricity, a murderous family history, a faithful literature addiction, and the intricate darkness of true love. These are the enchanting experiences that inspire Allie’s fairytales.

From some coffee shop in Los Angeles, she is working on her next novel.


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