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A Curmudgeon's Guide to Virtue & Religion, Vol. 1
Selected & Edited by Tom Willett

It wasn’t until my 30s that I became an avid reader. After 4 years as a musician, booking agent and artist manager in Gnashville, TN, I was released for good behavior to the City of Angels. La La Land. Hollyweird. There I had the great good fortune to work with a group of songwriters and recording artists who were as literate as they were creative. T Bone Burnett, Mark Heard, Sam Phillips and Tonio K., among others, basically taught me to read, and by my estimate, we spent as much time between the pages as we did in the studio.









My fascination with the written word began with cartoonist and writer, James Thurber, and then spread to his co-conspirators at the Algonquin Round Table—S. J. Perelman, Alexander Woollcott, Robert Benchley, Dorothy Parker, George S. Kaufman and the Brothers Marx, before bouncing across the pond to Oscar Wilde, George Bernard Shaw and Gilbert “Keef” Chesterton. With a solid sense of the magical powers of a well-crafted sentence, I drifted on to the study of art theory, philosophy and theology, but always with an ear for a trenchant turn of phrase that was as aphoristic as it was sagacious. As a means of keeping track of the best sayings, I developed a byzantine method of marking my favorite bon mot and soon discovered that I had amassed several thousand “quotable quotes,” those perspicacious epigrams and adages that were as memorable as they were practicable.








In this first collection, A Curmudgeon’s Guide to Virtue & Religion, Vol. 1, we take a righteously raucous look at virtue, morality, honesty and wisdom, plus, for the heavenly-minded, faith, hope, love, God and the life everlasting.


In a forthcoming release, A Curmudgeon’s Guide to Vice & Immorality, Vol. 2, a who’s who of literary iconoclasts will take a clear-eyed and sharp-tongued look at the sins and sensibilities of some of life’s most popular vices, such as casual sex, the love of money, lying, cussing, smoking, drinking… all of our favorites.


Although admittedly a ne’er-do-well musician and entertainment industry shill, I have made it my mission to save you the trouble of having to read the hundreds of books from which I hand-picked these apothegm, in the hope that it will speed you along your way to la dolce vita. The breadth of your erudition will amaze your friends and annoy your adversaries.



Tom Willett

Montmartre on the Cumberland


T Bone Burnett
Mark Heard
Sam Phillips
Tonio K.
oscar wilde.jpg
James Thurber
S.J. Perelman
Alexander Woollcott
Robert Benchley
Dorothy Parker
George S. Kaufman
Groucho Marx
Oscar Wilde
George Bernard Shaw
G.K. Chesterton
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