What Wit is, How it Works, and Why We Need It
Wit is often thought of as simply being funny. But wit is more than just having a knack for snappy comebacks. Wit is the quick, instinctive intelligence that allows us to think, say or do the right thing at the right time in the right place.
Forthcoming from Norton in November!
I Is an Other
The Secret Life of Metaphor and
How It Shapes the Way We See the World
New York Times bestselling author James Geary offers a fascinating look at metaphors and their influence in every aspect of our lives, from ordinary conversation and commercial messaging to news reports and political speeches.
Geary's Guide to the
World's Great Aphorists
Geary's Guide is the result of a lifetime's obsession with aphorisms and a year's death-defying research in the British Library. More than 350 authors from around the world, some of whom appear here in English for the first time, are brought together in this lively and thought-provoking compendium.
The World in a Phrase
A Brief History of the Aphorism
The World in a Phrase is a whimsical, humorous tour through the history of this remarkable literary form and its extraordinary practitioners. The book chronicles the varied, often idiosyncratic backgrounds of the world’s key thinkers and shows, as eighteenth-century aphorist Vauvenargues puts it, just how much “the maxims of men reveal their hearts”.
The Body Electric
An Anatomy Of The New Bionic Senses
Drawing on fields as diverse as artificial intelligence and neuroscience, The Body Electric provides an exciting synthesis of the people and technology making the convergence between biology and technology possible, while addressing the psychological, social and philosophical implications of these startling developments.
Photographs by Maciek Nabrdalik
Advance praise for Wit's End
"I have been reading Wit's End in juxtaposition to rereading and again writing about James Joyce's Ulysses. Geary prompts me to think that Joyce's title could have been No End to Wit. Goethe wrote an essay called No End to Shakespeare. There seems to be no end to James Geary's versatility."
– Harold Bloom
"Wit’s End is delicious. James Geary has managed to produce a witty book about wit that steers an elegant path between waggishness and wisdom."
– Stephen Fry, comedian, actor, and writer
"Whoever was the foremost authority on this topic is now second most."
– Bob Mankoff, cartoon and humor editor for Esquire and former New Yorker cartoon editor
"Comedy is famously impossible to describe without destroying it, so James Geary — in this entertaining and informative and funny book — makes a very smart and effective move: he does the police in different voices. He embodies the many different forms that wit takes, from poems to jokes to jive to rap. In a time of constant, unintentional humor, here is a purposeful and valuable reminder that sometimes it's on purpose and sometimes it's very nearly life-saving."
– David Shields, bestselling author of Reality Hunger and The Thing About Life Is One Day You'll Be Dead
"Playful, fiercely intelligent, silly, funny and immensely informative - [Wit's End] makes for a breathless read that leaves you feeling enormously enriched. The reinvention from chapter to chapter is a masterstroke and keeps the subject matter joyously buoyant."
– Reece Shearsmith, actor and writer, The League of Gentlemen, Psychoville, and Inside No. 9
"If you've ever spent hours overanalyzing your favorite standup special or sitcom episode, this is the kind of insightful, carefully reasoned deep dive you'll love."
– David Litt, New York Times bestselling author of Thanks, Obama: My Hopey Changey White House Years
"James Geary has produced a rich cornucopia of wit and its origins in the wittiest literary way possible. A delight."
– Julia Hobsbawm, founder Editorial Intelligence, the Names not Numbers ideas conference, the UK Comment Awards, and author of Fully Connected: Surviving and Thriving in an Age of Overload
Music: "Shotgun House Rag" by Dan Burley
Aphorisms by Simon Constam
June 30, 2018
Attending a reading by Terrance Hayes at the Harvard Book Store the other day, I happened to sit next to Simon Constam. We happened to get to talking, and we happened to discover that we both write and read aphorisms. As Simon said, "the odds are astronomical against two people interested in aphorisms just happening to sit down beside each other." So here, against the odds, is a selection of some of the aphorisms Simon subsequently shared with me, drawn from his manuscript-in-progress...
Exile is, like everything else, too much of a good thing.
Night after night all the things that do not change / Are startled by the changes that light brings.
Eventually you ignore the traffic, even the sirens, even the disturbances in the apartment next door. The classical guitarist cannot hear the squeaking of the strings.
Uncertainty disappears into habit.
Go and see what you don’t know is there.
Strength is the ability to forgive oneself for weakness.