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Whiskey Wisdom: A Crisp Guide to the Cool Art of Independent Thinking

“Sometimes I just want to slap him across the face and say ‘Why the f*ck can’t you be more interesting?'”

Thus spoke the viper-tongued young lady at my bar one quiet Sunday night. She was three Manhattans in and talking to me as if we were old friends, which we weren’t.

Her remarks, I told her, reminded me of a basketball coach I once had who, in the heat of battle many years ago, when we were in the huddle after an urgent and final timeout, sixty seconds on the clock, the game down to the wire, coach’s face beet-red, spit flying, said to us seriously:

“I told you guys not to let them make baskets!”

The real question, of course, is not whether to be interesting but how does one become so?

Here, from a bartender's perspective, is the fundamental thing:

To become more interesting, become more interested.

Learn to listen, look. Disprove the proven. Then tell about it in a good story.

Whiskey Wisdom represents a compendiation of nuggets of wisdom I’ve mined, over the course of two-plus decades, from the beautiful depths of the bar — a compendiation as well of the fascinating humans I’ve had the good fortune of serving and knowing over the course of those years. 

I offer now these nuggets of wisdom to you.


"There's something refreshing about an independent thinker – and more: something life-affirming, life-giving. It may be the courage it takes to assume responsibility for the ultimate contents of one's own mind, especially when everyone about you disagrees.... This book captures that."

– Cynthia Radowski MD

"Part memoir, part meditation? ... Whiskey Wisdom is what can only be called a manifesto, one specifically aimed at misfits, malcontents, unorthodox thinkers, self-starters, school-leavers, hard-workers. Like a hyena writing poetry on tombstones, it is a howling cry and call for anyone who would undertake the task to do this: think for yourself – and in so doing, make the unimaginable imaginable, the impossible possible, the unthinkable thinkable, the undrinkable drinkable."

– James Cole, Professor Emeritus in poetry, University of Wyoming



Table of Contents

Chapter 1. It’s Not How Clever And How Smart You Are — It’s How Clever And Smart You Want To Be

Chapter 2. How To Be Wickedly Charismatic

Chapter 3. The Awesome Power Of Your Eyes

Chapter 4. How To Penetrate People’s Brains As Though You’re Telepathic

Chapter 5.How To Charm The Pants Off Anyone Without Saying A Single Word

Chapter 6. How To Have People Dying To Hear What You’ll Say Next

Chapter 7. How To Answer The Age-Old Question: What Do You Do?

Chapter 8. How To Become A Freakishly Brilliant Small-Talker By Doing One Simple Thing

Chapter 9. How To Come Across As Diabolically Clever

Chapter 10. Ten Authentic Signs Of Intelligence That Cannot Be Faked

Chapter 11. Lynchpin

Chapter 12. Are You Fascinating?

Chapter 13. How To Be Unforgettable

Chapter 14. How To Be The Smartest Person In The Bar

Chapter 15. The Truckdriver

Chapter 16. The Art Of Independent Thinking

Chapter 17. What is Independent Thinking?

Chapter 18. The One who Spends Her Life Educating Herself

Chapter 19. A Liquid Life, Forever Flowing

Chapter 20. High-School Basketball Star

Chapter 21. What Is Friendship?

Chapter 22. “Whiskey is Merely Sunshine Held Together by Water”

Chapter 23. The Brown-Eyed Beauty Of Distilled Spirits

Chapter 24. Whisky, Whiskey, White-Lightning, Moonraker, Moonshine

Chapter 25. Work 

Chapter 26. Hard Rock Miner

Chapter 27. Waitress

Chapter 28. The Woman with the Grasshopper Mind  

Chapter 29. Postmodernism: Destruction of Thought

Chapter 30. Equality is Unfair and Intrinsically Unjust 

Chapter 31. Egalitarian Horror Story

Chapter 32. The Sudsbuster



"Rich in its study of human cooperation, Whiskey Wisdom is at the same time a depiction of the bartending life by a person who chose the nocturnal profession in order to pursue literature during the day. I've had the great pleasure of drinking his martinis, and being astounded by his memory. [In these pages] you see firsthand some of the outlandish behaviors of that strange earthen creature called homo-sapiens under the influence of philosophy, economics, literature, lust, and alcohol.... By turns witty, mordant, bitter, and lyrical, Whiskey Wisdom is one of the most unexpected yet most refreshing books I've read all year."

– Chilton Williamson Jr., author of The Homestead and Mexico Way


"Ray Harvey is a special writer, whose work will do what fine fiction must: take you on a journey from which you return transformed and renewed, seeing this world differently because of the world he has created. It is always heartening to find a new storyteller, and we can only hope that there will be more stories to come."

– Nicholas Christopher, author of Veronica and A Trip to the Stars

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  • This book was a passion project I started years ago, and I typed my heart and soul into it. In many ways it is my most personal book. This price includes a signed paperback AND shipping-and-handling fees, as well as the electronic version optimized for Kindle, Nook, iBooks, Kobo, Google Reads, and PDF. You also receive access to the audio-book (read by me).

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Whiskey Wisdom: A Crisp Guide to the Cool Art of Independent Thinking

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